November 10, 2014

Struth! Santa Claus the protector



IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that with seating for a mere six, this little chapel on a rocky islet off Hydra Island in Greece has to be amongst the tiniest and most picturesque in the world.


Snapped from mega motor-cruiser SeaDream I as it sailed last month from Athens to Rome, the chapel was built in the early 19th century by a prominent Hydra-based family involved with the sea, and named St Nicholas Chapel after the Patron Saint of Greece – and it's Protector of sailors and seamen.


The unique St Nicholas Organisation that promotes everything to do with the Saint from saving lives to Santa Claus, says that with almost every family in the Aegean Islands having a connection in some way with the sea, many of the wealthier in the past built chapels like this one throughout the islands.


It was so that, in the event of family members being endangered at sea, prayers could be offered with the promise of placing a tiny model or plaque of their ship made out of wood, silver or even gold in these chapels in thanks to St Nicholas for the family member's survival and safe return home.


Called tamata, these promised offerings were then laid before an icon of St Nicholas in the chapels by the saved seamen, and locals on Hydra say they've seen a number of these in the remote and picturesque St Nicholas chapel.  (More information St Nicholas and his achievements,  and for SeaDream Yacht Club's 2015 year Mediterranean sailings go to )


THEY SAID IT: Wood burns faster when you have to cut and chop it yourself. (Harrison Ford.)






[] TINY St Nicholas Chapel on a rocky islet off Hydra Island, Greece – one of the world's smallest and most picturesque chapels. (David Ellis)

[] PLAQUES like this are called tamata and offered to St Nicholas in little chapels like that on the islet off Hydra Island, in thanks for having saved endangered seafarers.



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