One of the locations that offers stunning views and a magnificent history on the island of Rhodes is Tsambika Monastery. It is Also known as the Monastery of Panagia Tsambika (Virgin Mary Tsambika and Παναγία Τσαμπίκα In Greek), You will find it located 25 Kilometers south of the city of Rhodes and is just outside the area known as Kolimbia Village on the East Coast of the island! You will also see the name spelled as ‘Tsampika’.
So what is this place all about? Why do people come here? What is its importance and significance?
Here I am going to walk you through the history of the monastery, how to get to it and the special story that it holds.
So, let’s begin by talking about the fascinating past events that have taken place, and how this monastery has become famous for Greek people and Non Greek people alike!
The Location Of The Monastery
The old monastery is located on top of a hill commonly known as Tsambika Mountain and it sits at 300 meters above sea level. From the top you will be presented with some beautiful views. The wonderful sea and coastal views are breathtaking from here and you can also see clearly the villages of Kolimbia, Archangelos and Tsambika Beach.
It is not clear when the monastery was actually constructed, but it is known it was reconstructed back in 1770. It really is a beautiful small Byzantine Monastery, and when you make the hard climb to the top of the mountain to see it, it really is worth the effort.
The inside of the structure is floored with gorgeous shells and the yard outside with pebbles.
From the main road you make a turn off and start to venture uphill. From here, you can get approximately half-way up the mountain by car, but from there you will need to park. The rest of the journey up requires a lot of deep breaths and some serious climbing. There are over 300 steps in total and each step is numbered and it works out at about 500 meters in total length.
The Icon Of Panagia Tsambika (Παναγία Τσαμπίκα In Greek)
I personally love the history and the story behind this location. Let’s see if you do too.
Many years ago (centuries in fact) inside a holy monastery in Cyprus, there was placed an icon of The Virgin Mary Tsambika (Παναγια Τσαμπικα).
Somehow and in some unexplained way, this icon made its way to Rhodes onto the mountain of Tsambika. Some have referred to this movement of the icon as a miracle.
On the mountain of Tsambika (then known as Zambiki) the icon lay hidden out of sight in a coniferous tree known as a Cypress Tree!
It is then said that a shepherd climbed the mountain with some others as he saw a light from some distance away! Upon arrival at the top, they were all astonished to find the light coming from the Icon Of Panagia Tsambika from within the tree.
It is from this event that the icon was given its name Tsambika. It originates from the name ‘Tsamba’ which in Rhodes actually means ‘Spark’.
Efforts were made to move the Icon into the local village, but again miraculously, it found its way onto the mountain and back into the Cypress tree. After numerous attempts to relocate it (and each time resulting in the Icon finding its way back onto the mountain), it was understood that it was the wish of the Panagia to have a church built there.
From there, the Icon has stayed and has not left the island of Rhodes since.
The Miracle of Panagia Tsambika
This is one of the reasons that thousands of people visit the mountain of Tsambika.
It is said that a miracle occurred many years ago. A Pasha (a person with a higher rank within The Ottoman Empire) was married, yet his wife was not able to give him the gift of a child.
Hearing of the secrets of Panagia Tsambika, his wife prayed before the icon and she ate the wick of the lamp which was situated in front of her.
After this event, she fell pregnant. Naturally the Pascha was hesitant to believe this as he knew she was not able to conceive. He actually believed the child was from another man.
It was not until the child was born that the Pascha believed. This was because the baby was born holding the wick that the mother had eaten in front of the icon during her prayers.
Because of this miracle, the mountain of Tsambika today is visited by thousands upon thousands of people worldwide who are struggling to naturally conceive a child. People also come to have their child blessed on the mountain.
The last time I visited, I witnessed myself a young lady walking up to the top of the mountain to pray to the Icon.
A Gesture To The Monastery
Women that have been onto the mountain and prayed before the Icon and later been blessed with a child as a result, offer a gesture to the monastery as a thank you for their child.
The child is to be named Tsambikos if it is a boy, and if it is a girl it shall be named Tsambika. If this is not to be the case, and they choose a different name (Greek people tend to name their children after family members for example) then they instead will offer a gift to the monastery to honor Panagia Tsambika.
It is well documented that women from all over the world have said to have visited this mountain in Rhodes and prayed to Panagia Tsambika. They have also said, despite difficulties conceiving beforehand, they have gone on to have children, sometimes more than one. Many who have claimed this, have even returned to Rhodes to baptize their child/children at the Panagia Tsambika Church!
My Overall Opinion!
When it comes to this location, my advice is NOT TO MISS IT.
Aside from its beautiful views, the history makes it worth the journey alone. It would be a real shame to not see this landmark. I love it here.
I just want to warn you, that the climb to the top using the steps can be quite testing. If you have older people, people not so good on their feet or children, you need to have this in your mind.
I know a lot of people that have visited, and certain family members have waited by the car while others have ventured up. There is no shame in backing out, it is a difficult climb. Something you need to be aware of.
Just take care when it comes to the temperatures too. If you visit in July and August the heat can be excessive, and it is extremely tiring when making this climb. Lots of water, sun cream and head protection are things I strongly recommend. It is better to be safe than sorry. Just use your best judgment.
Aside from this, you will love it here. The gorgeous views and fantastic history will stay with you forever.
So, do you have any questions? I would love to hear from all of you. Maybe you have visited and you have your own thoughts? Hey, maybe you have prayed to the Icon and have a story to tell?
I cannot wait to hear from you all, just leave a comment below and I will get right back to you
Thanks for reading.