The Dionysiou Monastery is one of the twenty monasteries located on the peninsula of Mount Athos in northeastern Greece. The monastery is on the southwestern side of the peninsula. Dionysiou ranks fifth in the hierarchical order on Mount Athos and is dedicated to St. John the Baptist.
Dionysiou Monastery was founded in the 14th century by St. Dionysios of Koreseos. The golden bull authorizing the founding of the monastery was signed in 1374 by Alexios II Comneno. A treasure, the bull is kept in the monastery. Construction proceeded with financial aid from emperor Alexios III Comnenos.
The monastery is built along the western coast of the peninsula on a rocky cliff high above the sea and overlooking a deep wooded ravine. In 1535, the monastery was swept by fire destroying it. Reconstruction began quickly and by 1547 the principal church of the monastery, the katholikon, had been built and painted with several murals by the Cretan painter Tzortis. A golden iconostasis was added in the 18th century. Around the katholikon are number of chapels including one that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Inside the monastery walls, a 25 meter high defensive tower was built in 1520. The tower was used periodically for safe keeping of the monastery's library. A dynamic community of monksnow inhabits Dionysiou and has undertaken the job of renovating and redecorating the older buildings.
The well organized monastery library contains many old documents, including 804 codices and more than 5,000 old printed books. Among the holdings are Gospels (Evangels) from the eleventh century as well as chrysobulls (golden bulls) and manuscripts. Among these manuscripts is an illuminated Gospel from the thirteenth century.
The relics of St. Niphon, Patriarch of Constantinople, are housed in a special crypt in the katholikon.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.