The tiny village of Panormitis is located southwest from the main harbor of the island, Gialos. It is widely known as home to one of the most emblematic monasteries in Greece, Panormitis Monastery. Dedicated to Archangel Michael, the patron of Symi island, the monastery boasts the largest baroque style bell tower in the entire world. Even though there are other monasteries throughout the island devoted to the protector Saint, this is the best known and attracts most visitors from all over the globe. Its imposing architecture, the frescoes in the interior and of course the mesmeric landscape are all reasons for you to visit.
There is a mystery as to the time when the monastery was actually built. According to the legend, it was built on top of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo. No evidence is found to prove that theory, sadly. Some people claim that the monastery was established in the 4th century or even earlier than that. Written proof, though, only mentions that Panormitis monastery had already been built in the 14th century. And reconstruction took place in the 18th century. In the monastery yard and the wider area, there are two museums and a library. The first museum covers religious items, whereas the second one focuses on folk culture and daily life in past centuries. The library hosts an impressive collection of Byzantine manuscripts.
But what makes this religious structure unique is the miraculous icon of Archangel Michael. It has been believed that the icon appeared on the very same spot again and again, till the monastery was built there. It is an impressive icon, blending perfectly with the rest of the frescoes and the grandiose architecture. Many pilgrims pray to Archangel Michael and promise things, as reward to fulfill what they seek. However, if these promises are not kept, the Archangel is known to demand his reward and remind the pilgrims of that, in their dreams or even in real life. Back in the day, a common offering was a broom. Monks and visitors mentioned that they could hear him sweep the monastery with the broom, which was impressive to say the least!
Panormitis Monastery celebrates on 8 November, with a great feast taking place. People from all over the island come to the monastery, along with pilgrims from afar. It is a wonderful day to visit the monastery, as well as other monasteries in Symi, like Monastery of Sotiros and of Stavros Polemou, Roukounioti and Kokkimidis.