Monastery of Megali Panagia (Madonna)
The Monastery of Megali Panagia is located 2 km to the east of the village of Koumaradei. Built at an altitude of 225 m, it offers fascinating views over the surrounding area. The monastery was founded in 1586 by the monks Neilos and Dionysios, who had taken monastic vows on mount Latros, close by the ancient city of Miletus in Asia Minor.
The church of the monastery, called “katholikon”, is dedicated to Dormition of Holy Mother. It is an accurate copy of the inscribed-cross type of churches, characteristic of Mount Athos, with four columns supporting a dome, with a narthex, an exonarthex and a chapel, dedicated to Holy Apostles. The old marble floor tiling still survives in the interior of the church with a bas-relief composition of Adam and Eve, portrayed in full size, with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil between them and the serpent as a symbol of evil and deceit. The wood-carved and gilded iconostasis, dating back to 1740, still has some 18th-century icons. The Episcopal throne is also wood-carved and gilded and dates back to 1803. The pulpit and the lecterns are fine examples of decorative wood carving from the 18th century. Rich frescoes decorate the interior walls of the church Although partly damaged by various factors, the frescoes of the church are rich and of major significance. The murals include iconographic cycles, scenes from the Akathist Hymn dedicated to Holy Mother, scenes from the New Testament (as for example a scene representing the Last Judgement, which can be seen in the narthex of the church), etc. In a chapel, inside the church, there are frescoes with scenes from the lives of saints.
The Monastery of Megali Panagia has been an important religious centre where the art of chanting has been taught and developed for centuries. However, it was repeatedly raided and plundered by pirates and other invaders.The Monastery of Megali Panagia celebrates its patronal day on August 23, when it is visited by worshippers from all over Samos.