The church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani, closely linked with the island, is one of the most famous orthodox pilgrimages in the Aegean Sea and is located in one of the most central and popular spots of Parikia within walking distance from the port.
There are two names for this impressive temple. The first name, Katapoliani, refers to its geography, "towards the city” (kata-polis), that is, towards the ancient city. The second name, which is its official name today, Ekatontapyliani, refers to the tradition of the church having 99 visible doors and one remaining hidden until the Greeks take back Constantinople (Istanbul).
With an almost identical design to that of the church of Agia Sophia in Istanbul, the church Ekatontapyliani was created by Ignatius, disciple of Anthemios, the master builder of Agia Sophia, and consists of a building complex, including the main church in cruciform, six chapels, a yard with the cells of the monks and the Baptistery.
The church of Ekatontapyliani, is dedicated to Virgin Mary and is one of the greatest monuments in the Cyclades. In cruciform basilica and colonnades creating transepts, it dates from Justinian’s times, around the middle of the 6th cent., and according to tradition, its creation is the result of imperial sponsorship, which is something that is easily justified by the quality of its decoration and construction.
The creation of the chapels, the cells and the high fence around the church date between the 17th and 18th century. The southwestern part of the cell complex now serves as a Byzantine Museum, which displays part of the relics of Ekatontapyliani and houses icons, woodcarvings, monastic habits, church relics and the wood-curved epitaph of Ekatontapyliani.