Around Marpisa and Kefalos hill

The east coast of the island is dominated by two uniform conical peaks—Kefalos and Antikefalos—which rise from the shore with a regular gradient to their summits of c. 170m, like two gateposts framing the sweep of Molos Bay. The area inland is rich in water below the surface and there are several settlements which have their roots in Antiquity. Like Lefkes, the village of Prodromos (14.5km) is built as a small, mediaeval kastro, with a web of typically Cycladic streets within. The centre can only be reached through one of a series of gates or small tunnels, the eastern one of which is crowned by a belfry, shared by the two 17th century chapels to either side. The village’s former name of ‘Dragoulas’ comes from the sanctuary of Apollo Tragios, who must have preceded Aghios Ioannis Prodromos as protector of the area. In the village 500m to the east of Prodromos, there are quantities of marble elements and spolia from some large pagan sanctuary— so many that the village has taken the name ‘Marmara’ (15.5km), or ‘marbles’. There are column drums built into the houses and into the walls of both the central churches of the village—Aghios Savvas, which has a fine example of the local kind of intricate stone belfry, and the church of the Panaghia Septemvriani­, or ‘Panaghia Pera’. The doorstep of the latter is made from an ancient bound ary marker, which bears the clear inscription ‘Η ΟΡΟΣ ΤΟ ΙΕΡΟ’, ‘boundary of the sanctuary’ at the right-hand end. The village water fountain and well-house, a little way to the north, is ringed by a series of massive marble, column-drums, which have been given a concave upper surface so as to act as basins. These must have belonged to a large Doric temple of the Classical period.
   On the lane running due south between Marmara and Marpisa (16km) is the small fortified monastery of the Pantocrator, with the turreted, four-square appearance of the Venetian pyrgi that are found on Naxos . Tightly fitted into the interior space is the domed catholicon and the abandoned cells. From the cemetery of Marpisa, a track leads up to the monastery of Aghios Antonios on the summit of Kephalos Hill (open July & Aug 9–1, 5–8; otherwise the key needs to be obtained from the pappas in Prodromos).

   The present 16th century monastery buildings, dedicated to St Anthony the Hermit, are built on the ruins of an earlier, 14th century Frankish church. This stood at the heart of the fortifications which were begun in the same period by the Sommaripa Dukes of Paros and Andros. The castle was later enlarged considerably by Nicolo Sommaripa in c. 1500, who moved his headquarters here from Parikia. This process of enlargement can be seen in the three enceintes which originally girded the hill, but which are now difficult to perceive in places: the first is passed through by the road, low down on the hill; the second is crossed just below the ruined churches on the southeast side; the third protected the crown of the hill. The last lord of the island, Bernardo Sagredo, held out in this castle against Khaireddin Barbarossa for four days in 1537: he escaped and returned to Venice after the island fell to the Turks. The two ruined chapels just below the summit which incorporate several pieces of ancient masonry date from the turn of the 15th century.
   The monastery itself and its courtyard contain many ancient capitals, columns, and other architectural elements, suggesting that the site may formerly have been occupied by a pagan sanctuary in the Archaic and Classical period. Certainly, the site is a natural gift both for prehistoric settlement and for later cult. The catholicon has a three-aisled, inscribed-cross plan, with two domes. The interior still con serves large areas of 17th century wall-paintings, in a style similar to those by the ‘Sakellarios Mostratos’ in Aghios Ioannis Theologos in Naousa. The most striking element of the interior is the pulpit, which is supported by a slender marble column standing on an upturned, Ionic capital of Archaic design. In the sanctuary are marble escutcheons of the Sommaripa and other Venetian families, and an elaborate 18th century ciborium.

   The two chapels below the summit of Kefalos are among the earlier surviving churches on the island. One of the earliest of all, stands just above the shore to the north of Piso Livadi (17.5), directly to the south of the hill. The simple, vaulted church of Aghios Giorgios Thalassitis, in un-plastered stone, dates from the 13th century, and contains some fine icons. Its walls incorporate marble elements from an Early Christian building.

Travel Guide to Paros & Greece

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