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Rodos, Greece

Tsambika Monastery

Scores of wax baby figurines add an unusual mood to this beautiful church on the Greek coast. 

Perched atop a mountain overlooking a luxurious stretch of golden shore, this monastery is worth the effort for anyone willing to clamber up a steep path filled with stairs. 

Newlywed couples and women struggling with infertility trek the 300-odd steps to the Greek Orthodox church at the top of this mountain to ask to be blessed with a child. Successful couples have been known to name their children “Tsambiko” (boy) or “Tsambika” (girl) in honor of their visits to the monastery.

Many of these pilgrims bring wax figures of babies or knitted cardigans as an offering to the Virgin Mary. The baskets full of naked little dolls add a creepy, somber mood to the church. They look slightly out of place among the religious artwork adorning its walls and the blend of shells and stone that forms the floor.

Even if you aren’t looking to become a parent anytime soon, taking the many stairs up to the church is still worth the effort. It offers spectacular views. Look to the coast, and you’ll see blue-green water stretching between the sandy shore and the distant horizon. Turn your attention inland, and you’ll find verdant hills bathed in Greece’s signature Mediterranean sunshine.

Know Before You Go

Car parking available at the bottom of the climb. The steps are numbered.