The Gregoriou Monastery is situated on the southwest side of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece, between the monasteries of Dionysiou and Simonopetra. Gregoriou originally was dedicated to the St. Nicholas but later was renamed in honor of its founder, Gregory. It is ranked seventeenth in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Mount Athos peninsula.
The monastery was founded by St. Gregory of Mount Athos (Younger) in the 14th century when he came to Mount Athos to pursue asceticism. Over the next several centuries little is known about the monastery other than that it suffered serious damage from raiders and in 1761 from a fire. Barsky, an 18th century Russian visitor, observed that restoration work had been done in 1500, and also noted that the fire of 1761 had destroyed many of the heirlooms and documents then held by the monastery. Additional damage was incurred during the Greek revolution against the Turkish sultan in 1821. Restoration work at Gregoriou monastery that had been accomplished over the years was supported by various benefactors including the princes of Moldavia, Phanariotes, archbishops of Hungro-Wallachia. Even a few Turkish sultans provided aid.
The katholikon, dedicated to St. Nicholas, was built in 1768 and follows the Athonite style. The frescos in the katholikon were done in 1779 by the monks Gabriel and Gregory from Kastoria. The frescos present scenes from the Old Testement. A narthex was added to the katholikon in 1846, under the direction of Neofitos, the abbot. The monastery also contains ten chapels as well as four cells in the administrative center Karyes.
As noted above much of the older treasures of the monastery were lost in the fires of 1761 and the warfare of 1821. Those treasures that the monastery now holds are kept in the katholikon. These treasures include icons of the Virgin Galatotrophousa and Virgin Pantanassa, relics of saints (the relics of St, Gregory were believed taken by some Serbian monks), and various liturgical objects.
The monastery library holds 297 manuscripts, many other documents, and some 4,000 books. These include the only existing manuscript copy of the Shepherd of Hermas a work that dates back to the first century.References:
Ceský Sternberk Castle is an early Gothic castle which was constructed, named and still owned by members of the same family. Today it is a residence that bears a long historical and architectural heritage and represents an attractive tourist destination open to the public. It is considered one of the best preserved Gothic Bohemian castles.
The castle was initially built in 1241 by Zdeslav of Divisov, later called Zdeslav Sternberg. The development of new firearms in the 14th century posed an unexpected threat to the defensibility of the castle. Its 13th century architects hadn't foreseen the danger of long-range firearms and its reinforcement became a necessity. During this period the Ceský Sternberk castle's fortifications were improved through the construction in the north of a three-story tower, which was connected to the castle by a rampart. In 1467 the castle was seized by the royal armies of George of Podébrady. Later, the ruined castle was regained by Sternberk's aristocracy, who, by the turn of the 15th to 16th century, had reconstructed the castle, renewed its defensive system and expanded it with the construction of a new cylindrical tower in the south and the Dungeon in the north. The castle managed to survive the looting of the rebels in 1627, during the Thirty Years' War. With the death of Jan Václav in 1712, the Holicý branch of the Sternberg family died out and its ownership passed to other families, who in 1751 built the lower palace next to the surrounding wall.
The ownership of the castle was returned to the Sternberg family in 1841 when Zdenék of Sternberg from the Konopisté branch of the family bought it. It remained in Sternberg's ownership until 1949 when it was nationalized by the Communist government of the Republic of Czechoslovakia. After the fall of Communism and the Velvet Revolution, in 1992, Ceský Sternberk castle returned to Jirí's son, the count Zdenék Sternberg, the current owner of the castle.
Ceský Sternberk Castle was originally built as a Gothic castle. Eventually it underwent several periods of reconstructions and further fortification and the Gothic architectural features were in parts concealed by the new reconstructions. Especially the interiors of the castle were realized under the Baroque and Rococo styles. In 1760, the master Carlo Brentano performed the elaborate stuccoing and renderings of the halls' interiors. The castle offers a rare collection of 545 copper engravings, depicting the entire history of the Thirty Years' War. Also, historical weapons and hunting trophies are exhibited within the castle's halls.