Tsampika Monastery is one of the things to see in Rhodes Greece and I was planning on taking a road trip around the island. I did a couple of lovely trips and walking tours – through Rhodes city and to Lindos (Things to do in Lindos), but I wanted to see more.
It was when I stumbled upon Nikos and his Ruote Car Rental that I knew that the time has come to drive around. I went early in the morning to pick up the car and was so excited that I will finally take a road trip. (I was driving that cute yellow car I mentioned when writing about the Rhodes weather, remember?)
Since I saw most of the island’s landmarks and visited Faliraki, Lindos, Therme Kallithea, etc., my plan was to go straight to Tsampika monastery and take a break for a swim at Afantou Beach. The next stop would be Prassonissi Beach on the opposite side of the island, 109 km from Rhodes town. Another break there and then to explore the west side of this Greek island. That side is often overlooked because of wind and waves.
So, while you enjoy the view from the hill above Tsampika Beach, let me tell you about the Tsampika Monastery that I came here to see. It is the monastery of Panayia its Tsampika e Kyra, the Virgin Mary of Tsampika or Our Blessed Lady, about 26 km from Rhodes town. It occupies a hill that can be reached via steep steps that go up for 300 meters. (Greeks usually read letters “m” and “p” when combined as “b”, so I am not really sure if the name is pronounced Tsambika or Tsabika.)
It was built in the 16th century and celebrated on September 8 with a traditional festival. But, the thing that made the Tshampika Monastery widely popular is the icon of the Annunciation, believed by some to be a miracle-working object.
Tsampikos or Tsampika
The story goes as such: women with conception issues come to pray to Our Blessed Lady here and they take a special pilgrimage routine. Among other things, they are supposed to climb these steps barefoot or on their knees. The pilgrimage consists of special fasting, etc., but after paying their tribute to Virgin Mary and getting their newborns, they name them after the Virgin here. So, they say that whenever one meets Tsampikos or Tsampika in Rhodes or Greece in general, one can be sure that his or her mom undertook the Rhodes pilgrimage.
Such an amazing story. I was thinking about it while coming down those steep steps (after taking a few dozen of photos from the panoramic terrace of the church). I remembered seeing the miracle-working icon inside and a couple sitting there in front of it… “Best of luck”, I thought, “I wonder if it’s going to be a boy or a girl.”
When you come down, you can turn to Tsampika bay with its white sands and turquoise waters. They say that money from renting sunbeds here goes into the monastery contribution box, so people tend to joke that “sunbeds are rented by priests“. Cute little story (not intended to hurt or insult anyone, of course).
Driving around Rhodes
Okay, so this was my first stop. It took a while to climb up and stroll around the hill. I even had a Greek coffee at the restaurant below, next to the parking lot. The view was amazing. I could see the long Afantou bay, the beach I was going to next… And I am not going to tell you much about it this time since there is one of the previous posts dedicated to the best beaches in Rhodes.
The important thing for our today’s story is that a plunge or two was just what I needed since it was already too hot. I stood there in the sun a bit, enjoying the scenery (and it was possible to see the Tsampika Monastery hill from here as well), and took off in my yellow car.
It took me another 85 km or so to reach Prassonissi, my next stop where I would take a turn back via the west coast. I didn’t know if there was anything there except for a sandy strip with a small rock island at its end and many surfers, but I was hoping there would be a restaurant or at least a supermarket. I felt a bit hungry already…
Rhodes road trip
But for now, I was trying to concentrate on the road, since I didn’t want to turn to Lindos which I already visited, but to take a shortcut that passes by this peninsula. I passed by Kalathos and was trying to see another sign since the road goes left to Lindos and Pylonas. I held the map Nikos gave me right next to me…
I don’t know if you noticed when driving around Greece, but here is the reminder – Greek roads are well marked, and so are those in Rhodes, but you rarely find a sign much ahead of a small crossroad. Try not to rush when approaching, since the signs are at the very spot where you are supposed to go left or right. Hence, it’s easy to miss your turn.
And there it was, the Pylonas sign. I even stopped to see the small church of Saint Gerasimos there, with cute architecture. I love to travel like this, to be able to stop whenever I find something worthy, so I enjoyed this trip immensely.
A few coves before Kattania
I passed Lardos and Gennadi, two villages along the way. And I had to stop to take a photo or two, since the scenery was changing from another beach area – Lardos Bay, to a rocky shoreline on the way to Gennadi. There was another long beach, and it seemed that this would be the last settlement until Prassonissi with shops and such. And when I get there, who knows what I might find.
All the way from Gennadi to the southernmost place of the island the road goes along the coast. You can see villas scattered on both sides, some greenery, and narrow ways turning left towards beach areas. (This would probably be too far to go on a scooter since it’s just too hot to be in the sun all the time. My little air-conditioned car was just the right choice.)
Try to enjoy the ride, there’s no way to get lost. Follow the main road and you will get to Kattania. There is another road sign (at the very spot where you should turn left), and you are on your way to Prassonissi.
Recharging in Prassonissi
I reached the other peak of the island. And there was everything I needed. I took a long swim on the calm Mediterranean side of the beach, walked around the sandy strip in my bathing suit, went to buy more water and have something to eat, and glanced over to the windy Aegean side towards restless surfers. While another red kite was ready to go up in the air, I was looking at my map. Halfway there. I drove along the island’s east side all the way to Prassonissi. Now, I will be moving “up”, driving the west shore, often underestimated because beaches are “prettier” on the east side, they say.
But, did you know that the west side of the island houses a small white village where you can easily get lost among narrow streets, that there is a mountain peak of 1.215 meters, the highest point of the island – and that the road goes all the way up? Stay tuned, since we are going up there next.
Next: DRIVING UP THE WEST COAST
The full Rhodes Greece SERIES
Rhodes looks like a gorgeous place to visit. Lovely photos.
Thank you, so glad you like the pics! It is, very interesting island, with everything there. 🙂
Coastal cliff destinations are my favourite because of the views of the sea from everywhere. Greece is the ultimate of the coastals. I can’t wait to go to Rhodes one day.
You’ll have a lot of those view there, that’s for sure. 😉
Katie @ Zen Life and Travel
So beautiful – I am dying to go to Greece! So, women were supposed to climb those stairs on their knees?! That must have been rough!
One rough routine, I agree. Pilgrimage is always a sort of a challenge. This one is no different.
What an awesome trip! Pilgrimages always fascinate me, so I am extra interested in Tsampika.
I always love stories behind places like this one, amazing really. 🙂
Greece is a beautiful country, and what a lovely trip, you went on. Love the story about the women and church of miracles 🙂
It was so charming. That’s what makes the monastery even more interesting. It’s not just that there’s a lovely view from the balcony on the cliff, but there’s a miracle icon, 300 steps etc, amazing! 🙂
What a beautiful coastal drive. Greece looks so breath taking. I love the shots of the beaches. I would just want to relax on the beach all day.
The good thing about Rhodes is that there are so many different beaches to chose from, sandy or pebbled, maybe rocky! 😀
I’d climb those 300 steps any day to experience that view! The Tsambiko temple sounds quite remarkable with its ‘miracle’ powers!
You captured Rhodes beautifully, what an amazing roadtrip!
Thank you, so glad you like it! And you’re so right, those steps are really worth the view and the story behind the place. Rhodes is lovely all together, a lot of things to explore. 🙂
Rhodes looks so picturesque! Looks like you had an amazing trip!
Yes, it’s lovely. A lot of things to see if you’re willing to explore. 🙂
I am in love with Greece and its my favorite destination in Europe. I am very much fascinated to Santorini and Mykonos but now Rhodos also look beautiful and more peaceful if compare to Santorini and Mykonos will surely visit this also.
Oh, Rhodes is a serious destination with rich history, a lot to see, great beaches. Not just a party island! 😉