Perhaps the most recognizable historic attraction on the island of Leros is the emblematic Medieval Castle of Panagia, or else the Castle of Pandeli. This fortress lies on top of Apitiki hill and overlooks the entire island, as well as the cobalt blue of the Aegean Sea. Due to its privileged location and its emblematic size, this is the first thing travelers to Leros remember from their journey to the island.
The Castle of Panagia is a Medieval fortress that dates back to the 11th century. It has been built over the ruins of an ancient acropolis, as the highest point of the island offers unique vistas to the sea and the rest of the mainland. As a result, the islanders must have used that very spot to identify any threats ahead of time and react accordingly. The Byzantine Emperior Alexius I Comnenus had donated the Castle to the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos (Saint John Theologian).
Over the centuries, it has been renovated by the Knights of Saint John and then used as an observatory for the different rulers of Leros. On site, you will also find a chapel of Panagia, which features a miraculous icon. The church is totally protected by the walls of the fortress. On August 15th, there is a great procession with pilgrims coming to pray and enjoy the stunningly religious atmosphere. Moreover, within the walls you can visit the Ecclesiastical Museum with a rich collection of icons, holy items, statues etc.
If you want to visit the Castle, there are two ways to do so. The easiest one includes a drive to Apitiki hill, while the other requires being fit and climbing 300 stairs. If you want to challenge yourself, the stairs start from Platanos village and lead you all the way up. Either way, you will get 360 panoramic view and you will be well compensated for your efforts!