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From Ithaca's capital, Vathi the drive around this picturesque bay is outstanding, travelling north around Molos Gulf the road very quickly becomes steep and winding. The views across the gulf overlooking Vathi are really memorable. The Monastery Katharon is reached within a distance of approximately 15 kilometres, at an altitude of 556 metres on Mount Niritos. The monastery is connected by a three kilometre long road to the island's oldest village of Anoghi, which means, 'at the top of the world'.

There are two theories concerning the construction of a church and a monastery, both dedicated to Virgin Mary (Panaghia). The first claims that peasants came to the area to burn 'kathara', (e.g. wild grass and thorns), they found Virgin Mary's icon and decided to build a church here. The second related the foundation of the monastery with the Catholic sect of Kathara. Whichever of the two views is true, it is a fact that Virgin Mary's church was built in 1696 and the monastery that was built a few years later was active until the 1980s.

The monastery was used as a hospital for the wounded during the 1821 Revolution. Since then it is open only in the summer months to enable visitors to see the remarkable wall paintings, the valuable reredos, and the icon of Panagia, which is believed was painted by the apostle Luke. The 8th of September is the date of the monastery's celebration. Following the service, a festivity with food and dance takes place, which is organized mainly by the people of Anoghi. The proceeds of the festivities go towards the restoration of the monastery.

I arrived here early morning and was quite amused to find that the local goats had taken over the area around the monastery, especially around the bell tower where many were still fast asleep. As I walked to the far wall past the bell tower I was met with an unforgettable panoramic view of the isthmus of Ithaca, with Vathi far below me in the distance. I just sat on my own in this peaceful setting absorbing the magnificent view below me.

. . . An absolutely breathtaking view of this beautiful island, I will treasure.

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