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:
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.