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.
There are a number of legends concerning the founding of Stavronikita. A monastery was probably founded on the site of Stavronikita in the 10th century as the Haritona monastery according to one legend. According to another, two monks, Stavros and Nikitas, made their cells there, thus giving rise to the name ‘Stavronikitas'. About 1530, a monk, Gregory, purchased the cells of the early monastery from the Philotheou monastery. Over the next several years, abbot Gregory began rebuilding the monastery. With the help of Patriarch Jermiah I the katholikon was built between 1527 and 1536 and dedicated to St. Nicholas.
The monastery has experienced several major fires that caused serious damage. The earliest was in 1067. Other followed in 1607, 1817, 1864, and 1879. While the damages caused by the fires was repaired little maintenance could be done nor renovation and expansion could be undertaken as the monastery was constantly in debt until 1960 when the monks retired the monastery's debts.
The structure of the Stavronikita follows the traditional Athonite form with the katholikon situated in the center of the enclosed monastery space. Stavronikita has a pronounced shape of a fortress. The refectory is on the first floor of the southern wing. Six chapels are located both inside the monastery as well as outside. The frescos in the katholikon date from the sixteenth century and include work by the Cretan painter Theophanes and his son Simeon.
The monastery library contains 58 manuscripts on parchment from the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. There are two manuscripts on silk and 109 from the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries on paper in addition to several hundred printed books. Additionally, the monastery holds many other treasures including portable icons, crosses, relic of saints, and liturgical objects. A mosaic icon of St. Nicholas the Streda from the fourteenth century is a major treasure. The icon received its name ‘Stredas' (which is oyster in Greek) from the oyster on the forehead of the saint's image.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.