Destination Description

Filerimos Hill (Φιλέρημος in Greek), just 15 km outside the capital Rhodes, is a hill 267 m. high, overlooking the small town of Ialyssos and the bay of Ixia and Trianda. From its top you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Aegean with turquoise waters near the shore and deep blue as it stretches toward coast of the Asia Minor. Thickly planned with cypresses, pines and other trees, it is an ideal location for a long walk into the Rhodian nature. A winding road leads to the top of the hill where, in relatively wide plateau, the Monastery of Filerimos is located. This place is also an important archaeological site; here once stood the Acropolis of the ancient town of Ialyssos with an important temple dedicated to Athena Polias. The hill took its name from a monk who came from Jerusalem in the 13th century bringing with him an icon of the Blessed Virgin painted by the Apostle Luke.

When Christianity first grew its roots in Greece (before spreading in the world), many of the ancient cult sanctuaries were transformed into churches. At that time the temple was converted into an early Christian three-aisled basilica dedicated to Virgin Mary (Panagià, Παναγιά). The church is well known since for housing the icon of the Virgin of Filerimos. Attributed to St. Luke the Evangelist, the icon was brought in to Rhodes during the 13th century, probably from Jerusalem where it remained until 1523. Under the rule of the Knights of St. John a Monastery was built, surrounded by cloisters and cells and a number of chapels. When the island came into the possession of the Ottoman Turks, the icon was taken by the Knights to France and from there to Italy, then Malta and Russia, where it stayed until the 1917 revolution. Since 2002, it has been kept in the Blue Chapel of the National Museum of Montenegro.

The monastery was destroyed during the Turkish occupation. The Italians rebuilt the monastery during their occupation and kept it open with monks from the Capuchin Order. Behind the church are the monks’ cells, the walls of which are decorated with mosaic depictions of saints. During the war the monks returned to Italy and since then the monastery has been closed. The main church of the monastery was more like a small chapel to the Virgin Mary and young couples had romantic weddings there.

There is a pathway that sets off from the square that leads to the westernmost point of the hill. The Road to Golgotha (Via Dolorosa or Way of the Cross) used by the Catholics was dotted with holy icon-stands and bronze reliefs with representations of the Passion of Christ. Here stands an imposing concrete Cross of 16 meter / 48 feet in the middle of the square, although on the past ages it was an iron Cross. The Via Dolorosa is the journey undertaken by Jesus, starting at the place where Pilate sentenced him to death and ending on Mount Golgotha (Calvary) and is also known as Via Crucis. Jesus walks this distance carrying the cross upon which he will be crucified. You can even climb up the cross and take in the view from the “arms” which is magnificent.