Nea Fokea and St Paul’s Cave Church in Halkidiki

entrance of st pauls cave church

 

The small fishing village of Nea Fokea was a short drive from our villa in nearby Kriopigi, situated along the first ‘leg’ of the three which make up the Halkidiki peninsula. There are thought to be somewhere in the region of only 1,500 inhabitants here during the year. This figure swells during the tourist season taking it well over the 10,000 mark.

Fishing boats dot the port whilst traditional tavernas serve up fresh seafood dishes as diners look out across the stunning blue sea.

 

nea fokea port and fishing boats

 

By the coastline stands a Byzantine fortress which is thought to have been built in 1407 and rises up to a height of 17 metres. By the tower is a stage set up for one of the many cultural events that take place there, including the feast dedicated to St Peter and Paul the Apostles that takes place on June 29th each year.

 

byzantine tower at nea fokea halkidiki

 

Despite being partially destroyed by fire in 1821 the Byzantine Tower, thought to have been built as a protection for local farmers, is still in amazingly good condition. It is also the perfect spot to take a family photo where most of the family aren’t even looking at the camera…

 

byzantine tower nea fokea halkidiki

 

Directly opposite on the other side of the main road is where you will find the cave church of St Paul. The story goes that St Paul hid here to keep safe from his persecutors during his missionary journey.

 

st pauls cave church halkidiki arch - Copy

 

The archway can be seen from the road. A large fig tree stands in the gardens and the cave church is tucked away to the side. The doorway, as you can see, is very small indeed. To give you an idea, Harry is approximately 5’9 or so now…

 

harry by doorway of st pauls cave church - Copy

 

Here is another perspective on the size of the door with Paddy entering the cave. The door is little more than three and a half feet tall.

 

st pauls cave church small doorway - Copy

 

As you enter the cave the climate instantly cools. A series of steps leads down into the tunnels…

 

st pauls cave church entrance

 

A hollow carved out of the side of the cave acts as an altar on which icons, candles and other small objects of worship stand…

 

st pauls cave church entrance 2

 

You then descend down the steps and start walking along the tunnel which is long and narrow…

 

st pauls cave church view of steps from tunnel - Copy

 

As you continue to walk, the tunnel becomes smaller and smaller, until you have to crawl through to continue. I couldn’t personally continue through to the end but Mike and the kids did manage to – he did have to take them through a couple at a time.

 

st pauls cave church narrowing tunnel - Copy

 

Finally, the tunnel opens up into a small prayer room. Rumour has it that there were more tunnels leading off but they had been blocked as tourists were getting lost within them.

 

st pauls cave church prayer room

 

Want to see St Paul’s Church Cave for yourself? Eddie takes us on a quick tour…

 

 

 

 

This post was featured on Monday Escapes

6 thoughts on “Nea Fokea and St Paul’s Cave Church in Halkidiki

    1. We visited Halkidiki before the tourist season began, leaving just as it was taking off. I imagine that where we stayed would be incredibly packed during high season so it was a good time to be able to visit the surrounding area without any crowds, yes.

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