Monasteries in Greece

Brontochion Monastery

Brontochion Monastery is located on the northern slope of Mystras, an archaeological site dedicated as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The abbot Pachomius incorporated into  the small church of the Hodegetria, or 'Aphentikon', as the monastery"s catholicon. The church was reconstructed and completed around 1310.
Founded: 1308-1322 | Location: Mystras, Greece

Arsaniou Monastery

Arsaniou Monastery for old men was possibly founded during the 2nd Byzantine period (961-1204). It was founded by a monk named Arsenios, after whom it was named. According to the most likely version of events, it was deserted at one point due to pirates causing problems to coastal hamlets and, like many other Cretan monasteries, it was renovated before 1600. The Church of Agios Georgios, the Catholicon of the Mona ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Rethymno, 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

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

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

Preveli Monastery

Preveli Monastery comprises two main building complexes, the ruined Lower Monastery of St. John the Baptist, and the currently operational Upper (Rear) Monastery of St. John the Theologian. The monastery was probably founded in the Middle Ages, during the occupation of Crete by the Republic of Venice, its founder being a feudal lord named Prevelis. It developed over several centuries as a religious and cultural centre ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Ágios Vasíleios, Greece

Vosakou Monastery

According to various historical sources, Vosakou monastery was in continuous use from the early 17th century until 1960, when the last of its monks died. In April 1676, Vossakos became a Patriarchical monastery (i.e. stauropegic), proclaimed by an act of Ecumenical Patriarch Parthenius IV. The monastery played an important role in the greater area of Mylopotamos and owned many pieces of land as well as establishments i ...
Founded: 1676 | Location: Mylopótamos, Greece

Epanosifis Monastery

Epanosifis (Upper Sifis) is one of the largest and richest monasteries on Crete. It flourished during the era of Ottoman rule and is dedicated to Saint George. The structure of the monastery is reminiscent of 17th century secular Cretan architecture with independent cells, one built next to each other. The Refectory and the priory are located west of the church. The surviving manuscripts, dating back to the 1 ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Archánes-Asteroúsia, Greece

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Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.