Monastery of Panagia Spiliani (Monastery of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
The Monastery of Panagia Spiliani is built inside a cave, few miles northwest of Pythagorion. It is actually a cave-pit (or a cave church). The dimensions of the pit are: 120 x 36 meters, while its depth is 8,5 meters. It is located at an altitude of 109 meters. It was first explored by I. Petrohilos 7/1952 [Hellenic Speleological Society (Hellenic Speleological Registry 204)].
The monastery is located in an area full of trees, while is dedicated to the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to ancient accounts, the cave was a place of worship since ancient times. In fact, experts claim that Pythagoras established a philosophical school, in the place where the monastery stands today.
The monastery’s priceless relic is the old miraculous icon of Panagia Spiliani (The Blessed Virgin Mary of the Cave), which has undergone many damaged, thus it is cracked. According to the local tradition, the cracking is due to the efforts made by some foreigners to steal and transfer the icon, in their place, by ship. Locals say that the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, wishing to remain in Samos, split and sank in the sea. It was later found on the beach and it was returned in the Church. This is why the icon is also known with the name “Kaliarmenissa”, since the icon sailed back to the island by itself.
Next to the cave, a small chapel is built to honor Saint George, while, inside the cave, holy water gushes out from the ground.
Walking down the stairs, if you look on to the right and left you’ll observe the manual cut of the stone. Even deeper, you’ll see the columns left behind to support the roof and few stalactites.
It is possible that this place housed the Oracle of Sibyl (600-500 BC). The oracle prophesized Pythagoras’s journey to South Italy, and his intellectual evolution.