Monasteries in Greece

Great Lavra

The Monastery of Great Lavra is the first monastery built on Mount Athos. The founding of the monastery in AD 963 by Athanasius the Athonite marks the beginning of the organized monastic life at Mount Athos. Athanasius began the construction according to the will of his friend and Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas who funded the project. The emperors gave also the Great Lavra many other lands of property incl ...
Founded: 963 AD | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Keras Kardiotissas Monastery

The Eastern Orthodox Keras Kardiotissas is dedicated to Virgin Mary that is situated near the village of Kera of the Heraklion regional unit in Crete. It is built on the north slopes of Mt. Dikti, at an altitude of 650 m and a location that is approximately 50 km east of Heraklion, next to the road to Lasithi Plateau. The exact date of the monastery"s establishment is unknown. However, references to it ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Chersónisos, Greece

Theotokos Kosmosoteira

The Theotokos Kosmosoteira is a Greek Orthodox monastery in Feres. It was built around 1152 by the sebastokrator Isaac Komnenos, a son of the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos. Isaac drafted its regulations (typikon) himself, with those of the Theotokos Euergetis Monastery at Constantinople as his model. Isaac stipulated it as a cenobitic monastery for 74 monks. The complex was surrounded by a double fortified wall ...
Founded: 1152 | Location: Feres, Greece

Iviron Monastery

Monastery of Iviron is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in the monastic state of Mount Athos in northern Greece. The monastery was built under the supervision of two Georgian monks, John the Iberian and Tornike Eristavi between 980-983 and housed Georgian clergy and priests. Iviron literally means 'of the Iberians' in Greek. The name Iviron originated from the ancient Georgian Kingdom of Iberia (Ive ...
Founded: 980-983 AD | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Koutloumousiou Monastery

The Monastery of Koutloumousiou is one of twenty monasteries on the Mount Athos peninsula and is located on the northeastern side of the peninsula, near Karyes. It is sixth in hierarchical rank among the monasteries. While the existence of the monastery is confirmed by document from 1169, Koutloumousiou Monastery was founded in its present form in the 14th century. Its central church was built in 1540. It is consi ...
Founded: 1169 | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Panagia Tsambika Monastery

Panagia Tsambika Monastery nearby the village of Archangelos is a tiny white Byzantine church perched high at 300m with commanding coastal views both north over Kolymbia where the avenue of eucalyptus trees can be picked out and the grid layout appreciated and south over Tsambika beach and beyond to distant Lindos. Inside is miraculous 11th-century icon of the Blessed Virgin found on the mountain by a childless , infertil ...
Founded: 1770 | Location: Archangelos, Greece

Gregoriou Monastery

The Gregoriou Monastery is situated on the southwest side of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece, between the monasteries of Dionysiou and Simonopetra. Gregoriou originally was dedicated to the St. Nicholas but later was renamed in honor of its founder, Gregory. It is ranked seventeenth in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Mount Athos peninsula. The monastery was founded by St. ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Vatopedi Monastery

The Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos was built during the second half of the 10th century by three monks, Athanasius, Nicholas, and Antonius, from Adrianople, who were disciples of Athanasius the Athonite. From then onwards, several buildings have been constructed, most of them were built during the Byzantine period and during the 18th and 19th centuries when the monastery reached its highest pea ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Gonia Monastery

Gonia is an Orthodox monastery located on the coast of the south-east Rodopos peninsula in Crete, overlooking the Gulf of Chania. Today dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, the monastery was founded in the 9th century and was originally dedicated to St. George. It was originally situated at Menies on the ruins of the ancient temple of Artemis Britomartis (Diktynna). The monastery was built in the 13th c ...
Founded: 1618-1634 | Location: Plataniás, Greece

Chrysoskalitissa Monastery

The Monastery of Chrysoskalitissa is built on a rock at the south-west end of Crete. The church of the monastery is dedicated to Mother Mary and the Holy Trinity and its feast is held on August 15 (Dekapendavgoustos). The Monastery was built during Venetian rule on the site of St. Nicholas monastery and, according to tradition, it took its name from a golden step, the final of the original ninety-eight that led to i ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Kissamos, Greece

Docheiariou Monastery

The Dochiariou Monastery is located on the southwestern coast of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece. It is ranked tenth in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the peninsula. The origins of Dochiariou Monastery can be traced to the 10th century. The circumstances of its founding are varied. One variant is that the monastery was originally founded near the port of Daphne at the end of the ten ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Moni Skiadi Church

Moni Skiadi, nearby the village of Mesanagros. One of the more important monasteries on the island made famous by its miraculous icon of the Blessed Virgin (panagia). Legend tells of a heretic who stabbed the painting many centuries ago and brought blood from the cheek of Mary. Still visible brown stains provide their own persuasive evidence. The icon is carried around at Easter time from house to house and village to vi ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mesanagros, Greece

Xenophontos Monastery

The Xenophontos Monastery is one of the twenty monasteries located on the peninsula of Mount Athos in northeastern Greece. The monastery is on southwestern side of the peninsula near St. Panteleimon"s Monastery. Xenophontos ranks sixteenth in the hierarchical order on Mount Athos. First mention of the founding of a monastery was in 998, while the monk Xenophon is credited with building the monastery that bea ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

St. Panteleimon Monastery

St. Panteleimon Monastery is built on the southwest side of the peninsula of Mount Athos. It is often referred to as 'Russian' and does have historical and liturgical ties to the Russian Orthodox Church; nevertheless, like all the other monastic settlements on Mount Athos, the monastery is under the direct ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and all its monks are cit ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Gouverneto Monastery

Gouverneto Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery in the Akrotiri peninsula of the Chania regional unit. Dated to 1537 (although other sources say 1548), the monastery is a Venetian style fortress with towers at each end with some Baroque influences added later. It measures roughly 40 metres by 50 metres and contains some 50 monks’ cells on two floors. Gouverneto is reputed to be one of the oldest monasteries i ...
Founded: 1537 | Location: Chaniá, Greece

Kapsa Monastery

Kapsa Monastery is built on a steep, rocky mountainside near the exit of the Perivolakia gorge, which offers picturesque views of the Libyan Sea. Kapsa monastery was most probably established in the fifteenth century, although no exact date of its establishment is known. In 1471, it was destroyed by pirates and as a result was then abandoned for centuries. In 1841, it was rebuilt by a hermit, who spent his last years in ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Ierapetra, Greece

Stavronikita Monastery

The Monastery of Stavronikita is one of twenty monasteries on the Mount Athos peninsula and is located on the northeastern side of the peninsula at an elevation of about 50 meters above the sea. It is fifteenth in hierarchical rank among the monasteries. Stavronikita is the most recently built monastery on Mount Athos. It is also the smallest monastery among the twenty monasteries and is dedicated to St. Nicholas. ...
Founded: 1527-1536 | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Chrysopigi Monastery

The Convent of Chrysopigi, just outside Chania, is dedicated to Mother Mary, the Life-Giving Font (Panagia Zoodochos Pigi). The convent is built in a fortress style and it was founded by Ioannis Chartophylakas at the end of the 16th century. During Venetian rule it was a significant spiritual centre with a well-stocked library. Its stopped flourishing with the Ottoman siege in the summer of 1645, when Philotheos ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Chaniá, Greece

Kremasta Convent

The name of the Kremasta ('Hanging') Convent is connected to its citadel-type architecture and its location, making it seem like its hanging from the hillside. According to the inscription, it was founded in 1593 by Mitrophanes Agapitos. It was initially a monastery but was converted into a convent in 1993.  The single-spaced arch-covered catholicon is dedicated to the Taxiarchs and features a gilded w ...
Founded: 1593 | Location: Apokoronas, Greece

Agarathos Monastery

Agarathos is one of the oldest monasteries in Crete but its exact date of establishment is not known. Most probably, it was established during the second Byzantine period and originally belonged to the Kallergis family. According to tradition, it received its name from a Jerusalem sage bush (agarathia in the Cretan dialect), under which an old icon of Virgin Mary was found. The earliest written reference to the m ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Hersonissos, Greece

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.