In Parikia, the capital of Paros, close to the port, there is the imposing church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani (also known as the Church of 100 doors). It is one of the most important and best preserved Christian churches of Greece. According to the tradition of Paros, it was built in the middle of the 4th century by St. Helen or by Constantine the Great, who fulfilled his mother’s vow. At the same location there was a chapel, before the 4th century. Saint Helen had stopped to worship at this chapel, on her way to the Holy Land to find the True Cross. According to the legend, Saint Helen made a vow to the icon of the Virgin Mary that she would build a bigger and more glorious church to her Grace in Paros, if she found the True Cross. Saint Helen fulfilled her vow, however the church was destroyed probably by a fire and it was rebuilt during the reign of Justinian, in the middle of the 6th century.
The name Ekatontapiliani or Katapoliani derives from the term “katapola” and it means “towards the city”, probably because it “points to” the area where the ancient city of Paros was located. The official name of the church today is Ekatontapiliani, which is also associated to a legend: “Katapoliani has ninety nine visible doors. The 100th door is closed and can not be seen. It will appear and it will open when Constantinople becomes Greek again.”…
There is another legend, which is tragic and which is associated with the big Monumental Gate that was installed at the northern wing of the building complex of Ekatontapiliani, a few meters from the chapel of Saint Theodosia, by Professor Orlandos, during the restoration of Ekatontapiliani. The two human forms that are sculpted on the cubical bases that support the marble decoration excite the popular imagination. According to the popular legend, during the reign of Justinian, Ekatontapiliani was build by the former assistant of the chief craftsman of Agia Sofia, Ignace. When the pupil finished the temple, he invited the master to admire his work. The chief craftsman felt envy and was afraid that his pupil would overshadow his reputation. Pretending that he wanted to show him an architectural fault, he took his pupil on the roof of the church. From there, the chief craftsman pushed his pupil with intent to kill him. The pupil however held on to the teacher and finally they both fell and were killed in front of the church. The two sculpted forms on the base of these gates depict the chief craftsman and the pupil who were killed there.
Paros Butterflies (www.parosbutterflies.gr)
The valley of butterflies is located four kilometers to the south west of Parikia. It is a biotope with a small source, which is covered by dense vegetation; cypresses, plane-trees, oleanders, carob trees and orchards. This area is ideal for the Tiger moth butterfly. It is a brown and yellow butterfly with a bit of black and white spots and two orange-red back wings, which appear when it flies.
The butterflies gather at this specific area in June and they “disappear” in August. This happens because in September the female butterflies search for bushy areas to lay their eggs and then, they die. The caterpillars come out of the eggs in October and they turn into butterflies in May. In June, the butterflies come again at the valley and they stay fixed and almost still on the trees till August, when they mate.
The visitors can enjoy their beauty, however they must be careful not to make any noise because the population panics and consumes the energy that must be saved for its journey in autumn and for its reproduction.
Park of Paros
The Environmental – Cultural Park of Paros has been created at the bay, where the monastery of Saint John Detis is located. It is a thematic park, which is located on a peninsula of 800 square kilometers in area, with a special geological and historical interest. This park is a pioneer in its kind in Cyclades, which relies mainly on volunteers and organizes all kinds of events every year.
More particularly, in the park you can enjoy the beauty and the peace of Paros’ nature, taking a walk around the paths of the area all year round, in every season.
You can watch various shows at the park’s amphitheatre, with the moonrise in the background or concerts, book presentations etc., which are organized during the summer.
Here, you can also swim in the blue-green waters of the four beautiful bays of the Park. One of the four beaches is equipped with sunbeds and parasols, while the other three are “free”.
At the canteen you can enjoy your coffee, juices, sweets, salads & various snacks. You can also relax, having a glass of wine, a beer or even a glass of souma. And for those who love water sports, there are many choices.
In this area you will also find the post-Byzantine monastery of Saint John, Russian installations of the Orlov events and the big shipyard of the 20th century.
The Environmental and Cultural Park of Paros implements a program of green development projects and activities, for the protection and promotion of the area’s culture and nature.
An annual Festival is also held in the Park from June to October, with many quality music, theatre, dance and speech events as well as environmental and athletic activities.
The Park belongs to the Municipality of Paros and it is administrated by the Municipal Limited Company and it is based on donations and volunteers.