Vlatades Monastery was founded by the brothers Dorotheus and Markus Vlatadon, who were students of Gregory Palamas, in the latter half of the fourteenth century. It was first mention in a letter by Patriarch Matthew dated in 1400 to Metropolitan Gabriel of Thessalonica.
In 1387, Thessalonica and the monastery were occupied for the first time by the Ottoman Turks. While the monastic community held together, the monastery properties were sequestrated as royal property and the main church was converted into a mosque with the frescoes of its interior plastered cover. During the Turkish occupation a unit of Turkish troops, commanded by a cavus, was billeted at the monastery giving rise to the name Cavus Monastir, still often popularly applied to the monastery.
During the latter part of the sixteenth and most of the seventeenth centuries the condition of the Monastery of Vlatadon and its dependencies deteriorated. While supported by a succession of Patriarchs of Constantinople, the monks of the Monastery of Vlatadon attempted to recover and restructure their dependencies in Thessalonica.
By the mid-twentieth century the monastery became a meeting place for scholars and academics of the city. In 1965, the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies was established that has worked closely with the Aristotelean University of Thessalonica. In recent years the Monastery of the Vlatades has been further renovated and expanded.References:
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.