Monasteries of Greece

Tauris Parke Books, 1996 - 224 σελίδες
Dramatically sited monasteries, built on cliff-tops or hidden in remote valleys, are one of the most characteristic sights of rural Greece. Around two hundred, some small, others more like fortified hill towns, lie scattered across the country, from the central Peloponnese to the narrow peninsulas of southern Macedonia, from the heights of Thessaly to the remotest Greek isle.
This book takes us inside some of the more remarkable houses; to the semi-autonomous theological community of Mount Athos, the leading centre of orthodox monasticism for over a thousand years, and to the soaring pinnacles of the Meteora massif, site of the perched 'monasteries of the air'. On Patmos, the holiest island, stands the fortified Monastery of Saint John, near the grotto where, according to tradition, Saint John had his Apocalyptic vision. And in the central Peloponnese lie the ruins of Mistra, once the 'Florence of the Orient', where the last group of medieval monasteries were built during the final flourish of Byzantine power.
These monasteries contain some of the greatest and most venerated treasures of the orthodox world: fragments of the True Cross, ornate reliquaries and innumerable icons. The monastery churches of Daphni and Saint Luke glitter with an astonishing cycle of eleventh century mosaics, while others are decorated with Byzantine frescoes of saints and martyrs and biblical scenes.
Greek monasticism grew out of the early eremitic communities of the Near East. Its fortunes waxed and waned with the rise and fall of the Byzantine empire. During the Turkish occupation it helped sustain the Greek spirit and played a role in launching the war of independence. In free Greece many monasteries were closed. Yet today several thousand monks, black-clad figures from the past, still follow rites little changed since the days of Byzantium.

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