The Castle of Panagia
Medieval walls and Byzantine relics
If one had to visit only one place in Leros, then let this be its “impregnable Castle”. Breathtaking views, medieval walls, miraculous images, history and Legends! One visit is never enough to fit all the beauty and history of this castle.
The “Castle of Panteli” is the most important medieval monument and fortress complex of the island. It is built on the foundations of the ancient Acropolis on the of Apityki hill. The two circumstingable quadrangle that are preserved until today belong to the Byzantine period. In its present form it was the Knights of St. Ioannis that builted (mid 15th century-early 16th century) to resist effectively the continuous and harsh pirate attacks of the Ottoman fleet. They added the third and largest bailey, reinforced the Byzantine castle with repairs and customized it to the needs of the new form of war with new fortification buildings. The four coats of arms at various places around the fortifications testify their passage.
The church of Panagia (Virgin Mairy) that gives the castle and its name, “Castle of Panagia”, is the most important religious and spiritual symbol on the island. In the church there is the icon of Panagia Odigitria, which according to the religious tradition appeared on the island during the era of Iconoclasm (9th century) from the sea and was installed miraculously in the powder keg of the castle between two lighted candles. The temple was built in the exact same place. In its present location the temple was built in 1669 and until 1719 the original small temple was renovated and expanded many times.
At the five churches that are preserved inside the castle, the visitor can admire the gold-plated temples of 1745 B.C., parts of frescoes of the 9th century, the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary, dressed in silver dating back to 728 A.D. and speculated that it was his work Evangelist Loukas, the precious devotional relic in a wooden frame of Virgin Mary and a golden lining that was crafted in 1732 and exceptional hagiographies.
In the ecclesiastical sacristy of Byzantine art which is also inside the castle the visitor can see the exhibition of valuable manuscripts and books, rare icons and ecclesiastical objects.During the Italian occupation, interventions were made in the area and the castle was being used as an observatory.