The Karakalou Monastery is situated on the southeast side of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece, between the monasteries of Great Lavra and Iviron. Karakalou is dedicated to the Apostles Paul and Peter. It is ranked eleventh in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Mount Athos peninsula.
Founded in the 11th century, the monastery received its name after either the Roman emperor Karakala or the monk, Karakalas, who was said to be its founder. Karakalou was first mentioned in documents from 1018 and 1087. Built on the side of a mountain Karakalou appears now like a fortress overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the consequence of having been destroyed twice.
In the 14th century it was devastated by Latin and pirate raids during the period of occupation by Frankish forces after they had conquered Constantinople in 1204. Then, prior to its rebuilding in the 16th century, the monastery was destroyed again by pirates. The emperors Andronic II and John V Paleologos rebuilt Karakalou after the first destruction and after the second raid it was rebuilt by Peter, the ruler of Moldavia and his descendants. According to the local athonite tradition, later on, Peter took monastic vows at Karakalou. In the 17th century, Karakalou was given ownership of the dependency of St. Nicholas in Ismaelia. Under Ottoman rule the monastery lost its estates to expropriation by the Turks. The monastery also played a role in the struggle by the Greeks for liberation of their homeland from Ottoman rule.
The main church, the katholikon, was built between 1548 and 1563 in the Athonite style. The murals were added in 1716, and in 1763 the outer narthex was painted with scenes from the Book of Revelations. The church houses a portable icon of the Apostles that was painted by Dionysius in the early 18th century. There are seven chapels within the walls of the monastery. In addition the monastery has eighteen Kellia, four in Karyes and fourteen in the forest southwest of the monastery. The monks of Karakalou have followed the coenobium discipline since 1813.
In its treasury, Karakalou, among many vestments, ecclesiastical vessels, and relics of saints, possesses portable icons of Ss. Peter and Paul and the Circumcision of Christ, and a piece of the Holy Cross. The library contains 279 manuscripts, including 42 on parchment, some 2,500 printed books, and many official documents.References:
The castle of La Iruela, small but astonishing, is located on the top of a steep crag in Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. From the castle, impressive views of the surrounding area and of the town can be enjoyed.
The keep dates from the Christian era. It has a square base and small dimensions and is located at the highest part of the crag.
There are some other enclosures within the tower that create a small alcázar which is difficult to access.
In a lower area of the castle, protected with defensive remains of rammed earth and irregular masonry, is an old Muslim farmstead.
After a recent restoration, an open-air theater has been built on La Iruela castle enclosure. This theater is a tribute to the Greek and Classic Eras and holds various artistic and cultural shows throughout the year.
The first traces of human activity in La Iruela area are dated from the Copper Age. An intense occupation continued until the Bronze Age.
Originally, La Iruela (like Cazorla) was a modest farmstead. From the 11th century, a wall and a small fortress were built on the hill to protect the farmers.
Around 1231, don Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, conquered La Iruela and made it part of the Adelantamiento de Cazorla. Over the Muslim fortress, the current fortress was built.
Once the military use of the fortress ended, it was used as cemetery.