This Is Greece's Abandoned Heretic Graveyard From Ancient Times

Abandonned cemetery of Nea Chalcedon, Greece
Abandonned cemetery of Nea Chalcedon, Greece | © candiru / Flickr
Ethel Dilouambaka

Greece is a country of many secrets; one of them is the abandoned graveyard of a gnostic Christian sect in a little city outside Thessaloniki. Just 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) from the country’s second city, this forgotten cemetery survived the centuries and reminds visitors of a small page of the country’s rich history.
Nea Chalkidona (or Nea Chalcedon) is a quiet little city that hides a deep secret. The medieval cemetery of the local church of Agia Eloussa is home to a dozen Celtic-style moss-covered stone crosses, testifying to the presence of a Christian sect on Greek soil.

Buried cross in the abandonned cemetery of Nea Chalcedon, Greece

The crosses belonged to the Bogomils, a European heretic cult that existed until the 16th century. The sect flourished during the Byzantine period around the 9th century, which strongly believed that the world was divided between Good or God (who ruled over the spiritual world) and Evil or Satan (ruler of the physical world). Rejecting the hierarchy of the Church, the Bogomils refused to build churches as they believed their bodies to be the temple of Christ and refrained from using the Christian cross, instead using stone crosses surrounded by a circle, just like the Celtic crosses. The sect was confined to the Balkans and Greece and was persecuted by the Christians and the Ottomans when they arrived in the region; the sect disappeared around the 15th century.

Abandonned cemetery of Nea Chalcedon, Greece

Before their disappearance, the Bogomils sent missionaries throughout Europe and one of some of them arrived in northern Greece. These were later buried in the cemetery now located in Nea Chalkidona. After falling victim to vandalism, the cemetery was declared a protected site by Melina Mercouri, minister of culture, in 1988. The forsaken graveyard is definitely an interesting vestige of the past worth visiting.

Bogomil crosses in the abandonned cemetery of Nea Chalcedon, Greece

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article