The story of Panagia Argokoiliotissa began almost two centuries ago, about 1835 and is a unique, unusual one.
In that year, a local of the nearby Koronos village in Naxos visualized in their slumber a visit from a spiritual being that revealed a specific location. After sharing this with their fellow villagers, two excavations were performed in the Argokoili area unearthing two very old orthodox icons, dating back to the Byzantine era. One of them pictured Virgin Mary near the fountain of life; coincidentally, it is said that in the next year (1836) at the excavation’s anniversary, there was a small stream of holy water coming out of a rock in the same area.
The villagers continued the excavations there and discovered an underground cave-like Byzantine observatory, speculated to be standing since the Iconoclasm years. After a short period of time, a small basilica church was built atop the observatory, elongated in the next few decades. It was named after the place (Argokoili) and the icon it hosted, resulting in its modern name of Panagia Argokoiliotissa. The steep, carved inside the rock staircase leading to the underground rooms is accessible to this day, albeit restricted to the crowds as a precaution.
Following the original church’s architectural additions, an imposing basilica is under construction on the eastern side of the small church. It is the largest one in the Cycladic region and will allow for more travellers and Christians to visit it once the traditionally colorful murals are finished. The newly constructed roads in the area are also a result of the popularity that the small, scenic church has attracted to this serene corner of Naxos.
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