The most famous and oldest church of Paros is the Church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani (Our Lady of the Hundreds Gates) or Katapoliani, which is also considered as one of the most important Byzantine Monuments of Greece. Located in the capital of Paros, Parikia, the church is believed to be miraculous and every year, thousands of Pilgrims visit it for its celebration, on the 15th of August.
This church is supposed to have been built according to the orders of Saint Helene, mother of Constantine the Great (the first Christian Emperor) when she stopped in Paros, during her travel to the Holy Land of Palestine in order to find the Holy Cross. Panagia Ekantontapiliani was built on the site of an older cross shaped wooden basilica which was destroyed, nobody knows exactly why.
The new church built there had beautiful vaults and domes but was hit by many catastrophes all over the centuries, creating great damages.
The worst of those was in 1733, when an earthquake caused the destruction of the northern and western vaults. The consolidation and reparation of the church has changed its initial architectural shape, distorting its original style, creating an interesting and unique result.
In its interior, the church has a beautiful cross-shaped baptistery, wonderful sculptural decorations, fine post-Byzantine icons, astonishing marble-carved iconostasis and more.