The first name of Messene was Ithomi. But how can one explain these names? First of all there is Mount Ithomi and there, the Sanctuary of Ithomi was discovered in 1843, but was later lost in the lush forest. Today, after twenty years of efforts of Prof. Petros Themelis we can enjoy the sanctuary and its foundations. It is dedicated to goddess Artemis Laphria and references of travellers report that there was a statue of Damophon dedicated to her.

Artemis Laphria is a goddess of the underworld and of nature. Cult customs and worship rituals are performed by women and pertain to fertility rituals. Besides, next to the sanctuary there is another one, dedicated to Eileithyia, a deity that protects women in labour and guards the souls of pregnant women. They are deities that govern the passing from life to death. Relevant deities were also the Kourites demons and nurturers a strange combination of schooling and exceptional breeding, who sometimes save children and other times intimidate them.

Here an extraordinary coincidence takes place. The sanctuaries of Ithomi, Eileithyia and the Kourites are comingled in the mythical stories about the adventures of Zeus of Ithomata. A tradition of the land recounts that here the holy infant was worshiped, saved and brought up. At the altar of the Ithomata sanctuary a statue was found a worshiping idol of child Zeus dating back to 369 BCE and attributed to Ageladas. At the same place, Mount Ithomi, we find the foundations of the old monastery of Vournakos. It seems that sanctuaries have an affiliation from antiquity to the modern religion. At the sanctuary of Ithomi, Zeus the "transformer", the one who re-invents himself and changes is worshiped; on the other hand, the Monastery of Vournakou celebrates Virgin Mary and especially Dormition; it is built in the summit of Mount Ithomi on an enormous natural rock. A sacred place from antiquity, it offered asylum and protection in any given difficult moment of the land's history.

Panagia (Virgin Mary) of the Summit

Mount Ithomi is sacred. It may change forms and guardians but its mission remains the same. In antiquity, it hosted the sanctuary of Zeus of Ithomata and later, in the Byzantine era, Voulcanos Monastery dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God. The monastery was founded in the 17th century and bears the name of its founder Voulcanos or Dorkanos, but for many it is known as the Monastery of Panagia of the Summit. It was built circa 725 AD by iconolater monks and the miracle-working icon of Virgin Mary was discovered here.

The church of the Monastery is of the crossed-dome type. It celebrates on September 8 at the day of the Nativity of Mary and on August 15 at Her Dormition. Thousands of visitors come as pilgrims and celebrate the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary every year.

On the day of the Nativity, the icon is transferred throughout the city of Messene on the night of 19th to 20th September so as to remember the divine intervention of Virgin Mary at the plagued area in 1755. The icon is transported at about 2 am from Voulcano and arrives after a procession of 20 kilometres to the church of Virgin Mary at Mavromati at 7:30 in the morning. It's more than a religious procession, rather a ritual.

The monastery was the first to be built in the region, was always a monastery for monks and its operation was never uninterrupted. Today, it is the only male commune belonging to the Holy Metropolis of Messenia. The treasures of the monastery are many: the miraculous icon of Panagia bearing an inscription awarded to Hosios Loukas, relics of saints, a rich library, literary works, Ottoman documents and four sigilliums of Patriarchs of Constantinople that certify the privileges awarded to the monastery.


Messene Virtual Tour


Messene Virtual Tour



Athens, a modern metropolis, a european capital, a nest for all the Mediterranean cultures. Athens, the meeting point of East and West, the harbor of everyone, who still loves passionately life! There are so many different ways to describe and analyse Athens, that any given effort to do a short depiction of the city is nothing but a try doomed to fail. Nevertheless, we will try to underline some of the main characteristics of the city of Athens. Visit Virtual Tour


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Known from the Homeric myth, as the mythical island of Phaeacians where the shipwrecked Odysseus was soothed by princess Nausika, Corfu continues to welcome visitors from all around the world. Be a synchronous Odysseus and follow the new destination of YouGoCulture initiative. Having the Central Corfu and its old town which is in the list of the Unesco World Heritage Sites, a journey begins in the history, the traditions and the unique beauties of the island. Visit Virtual Tour


Situated in continental Greece on Mount Parnassus, Delphi was considered to be one of the most important cities of ancient Greece. It was believed to be home to the goddess Gaia, or Earth, and later to Apollo after slaying Gaia’s son, the snake Python. The Pythian games—similar to the Olympic Games—were held here every four years to honour Apollo’s slaying of the Python dragon. Visit Virtual Tour


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Even today’s visitors feel that they are in a sacred place as soon as they set foot in the Asklepieion of Epidavros. The place where healing was a religious mystery. The sick were cured by the god Asklepios in their sleep (enkoimesis) or received from him instructions on the therapy they should follow. From the sixth century BC until the end of antiquity, hosts of people resorted to the Sanctuary of Asklepios in expectation that their prayers for healing would be heard and answered by the god. These were patients and pilgrims who arrived there bringing precious votive offerings from all parts of the then-known world. Visit Virtual Tour


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Ancient Olympia

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