AGIOS IOANNIS ON-THE-ROCK
Turning left at the entrance of Kapsali village, above the picturesque port at an altitude of about 100m, you’ll find the small chapel of Agios Ioannis on-the-rock. The stone stairs lead to the church entrance, where you’ll see the inscription of the monk Ioannikios, who restored the shrine in 1725.The church is built inside a small cave where, according to tradition, Evangelist John came after he left Rome –where he was persecuted- and began the writing of the Apocalypse, before moving to Patmos. Above the arched entrance is the guest house, with two rooms and a kitchen, originally built 500 years ago. Approximately 5-6 monks once lived here and in a couple of small cells nearby. Going further up the stairs you’ll first meet a small ancient temple that was probably in honor of Evangelist John and soon you’ll see the cave. It seems that during the 17th century the complex consisted of two churches: Agios Ioannis the Theologian inside the cave and the Baptist further down on the cliff which was ruined due to barbarian invasions and neglection. When restoration took place in the 18th century the cave was inaugurated under the name of the Baptist, putting aside the worship of the Theologos, which was initially related to the space.
The cave consists of two areas; the first is the spacious 7m long main church and the second, narrower and lower, is a 20m long area with clay basins to collect the water dripping from the cave’s roof. A small door on the right of the wooden chancel screen leads to the narrow hermitage. At the end of the 18th century to the early 19th Anthimos Levounis was the abbot on-the-rock was and later became bishop of Kythera. The last abbot, Cyrilos Kentrotis, served during the years of British rule. In nowadays the church celebrates the Nativity of the Baptist on June 24 and the Beheading on August 29. Another reason worth visiting the church for is the stunning view of Kapsali, the castle and Chytra!