The Monastery of
Its history comes from centuries ago, starting from the first apostolic years. For that reason is, one of the most significant monuments of the island and the only monastery still in residence.
The tradition says that the place where it was built was Diana’s Sanctuary of fine marble. The students of Apostle Pavlos, who arrived first in the island, gathered the inhabitants and preached the Christianism, creating the first place for prayer, while one of them, Sosion, had been ordained as Lefkada’s first Bishop. Sosion was the founder of the monastery.
According to religious sources, in the years of Konstantinos the Great, after the A’ Ecumanical Synod, 5 Fathers arrived together with the Bishop Agatharchos. Two of them were settled in the Monastery and three of them in the Hermitage of Holy Fathers outside Alexandros village. The Fathers constructed the first cells, extended the church and organized the monasticism of Lefkada.
The miraculous icon
Another tradition says that the first icon of Panagia, which had been ordered in Constantinople, was revealed as a “God made icon” (was not made by human) to the monk and hagiographer Kallistos, after his prayer. For this reason, the monastery was named Faneromeni.
The monastery took its final figure during the Venetian domination in 1734. The church was rebuilt on the 19th century, after 2 fires and its features reveal the strong influence of Zakinthos architecture.
The icon of Panagia (1887) is a copy of the old miraculous icon of Faneromenis of Aghio Oros Monastery. Its iconostasis was made after 1886, a work of Efstathios Prosalentis, junior. Its icons are works of brothers Christodoulos and Thomas Zografos from Chionades of Ipiros.
Also, to the front of the iconostasis, you will find the works of Leonidas Sideris, featuring times of New Testament. The monastery was renovated recently, with the initiative of Father prior. A new wing of cells was constructed together with prior’s apartment, synodic, library and a chapel dedicated to Aghios Silouanos Athoniti. Here, in a modern building is accommodated the new Ecclesiastical Museum of the Monastery with ecclesiastical art and tradition’s exhibits. Icons, vestments, vessels and books exhibited in 3 floors, characterizing Lefkada’s culture development.
The monastery exhibits Christian books and has a small guestroom for the pilgrims. Panagia Faneromeni’s church, stands for centuries, to the holy rock, gathering many pilgrims every year. It is the patron saint of the “Lefkada’s whole” and her grace is celebrated on Monday of Holy Spirit.
The Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Niras, is located before the lighthouse of Lefkata. It was probably founded at the beginning of the 17th century, 1637. It was built from 7 families and inherited an incredibly big land property. Today’s church is more recent. Its iconostasis is modern with icons created in 1799. 13 icons of dodekaorto and 3 despotika (thrones) are the work of the hagiographer Andreas Betzos. All are painted with special egg color on the board, very well preserved.
The despotic icon of Agios Nikolaos is the work of another well known hagiographer, Dimitrios Foskaris, painted in 1699. This icon is the oldest of Lefkada, signed and dated, stolen and found again damaged, in 1979. Today, it is sheltered in a building of the Monastery in the village of Athani. The monastery does not have any wall paintings.
The Monastery of Agios Georgios in the forest of Skaros, after Klimvata in the area of Alexandros is a fine place with a divine view to the northwest of the island.
According testimonies and documents, was founded in 1911 and is one of the most significant historic monuments of Lefkada.
The monastery had been flourishing during the Turkish domination, when the forest of Skaros became its property. In 1727, the monastery had 8 farms, had been cultivating 708 sq.m and breeding 900 sheep and goats. The church of the monastery was extended in 1709. To its interior, to the east wall which remains untouched, remarkable hagiographies are preserved. Its interesting iconostasis was created in 1724 which is a copy of the iconostasis of the church of Aghios Minas in the town of Lefkada.
The cells of the Holly Fathers are rooted for centuries in a rocky land, 5 km over Nikiana to Alexandros, inside a cave near the area of Skaros. It is one of the oldest Christian monuments of the island.
Religious sources mention that in this place 3 Holly Fathers who arrived to the island after the A Ecumenical Synod to Nice of Bithynia in 325 a.c, took monastic vows, found a shelter in the cave and preached Hevangelion until the end of their lives. In a cave nearby, you will meet their graves and the small church of the Hermitage, built to their honor.
Monastery of Panagia Hodeghetria: It is the oldest Christian monument, preserved in the Island. It is located in the village of Apolpena, inside the oil grove. It was founded around 1449 and 1450 or according to other sources, around the 11th century. Its catholicon, the main church of Panagia Hodeghetria, is a single - aisled vassiliki, wooden roofed, with a three - sided apse to the east. Fragments of the wall paintings are preserved in the south and east walls of the interior which combine the Palaelogy with the West technique. According to tradition, in this monastery hermited Helen Palaeologhina, daughter of Bishop Mistras Thomas Palaelogos, sister of John VIII Palaeologos, wife of Bishop of Servia Vrankovits and mother in law of the last duke of Lefkada, Leonardos II Tokkos.
Wall paintings from the Monastery
It was founded in 1906 and for a period of 3 centuries played an important part to the economic and spiritual life of the island. At the beginning of the 19th century, the monastery of Agios Ioannis had been the richest and the largest in Lefkada, while already since the 18th century, the monastery of Hodeghetrias and 15 other churches of the island became its property. To its catholicon, according to tradition, the famous armatolos Simos Bouas or Grivas was buried. Today’church is more recent, single spaced, wooden roofed with a place set apart for women. It has divine wall paintings, which are dated during 1736 to 1753. To the north wall, wall paintings are preserved in 3 zones.
On the first zone you can find the whole body figures of saints, on the middle you can find busts of saints and on the top one, large many faced figures, ruined from time. To the west you can see Agios Konstantinos, Agia Eleni and Archangel Michael. Next to the catholicon of the monastery, inside the wild vegetation, there is a crumbling chapel of Agios Nikolaos.
The Monastery of Archangel Michael
According to the historian K.Machera, it existed long before 1681. The first church was a little single placed room with a saddled wooden roof completed by small low roofed cells. In 1700, during Venetian domination, the monastery had been flourishing with 19 cells, many fields and animals. All monastery’s settlement were located in a rich verdant valley. In our days, only the ruins of the facilities of the monastery, the cells, the guestrooms, the storehouses, the oil press and the stables are evidences of the past economic strength.
The catholicon of the church has important wall paintings, which were created at the end of the 16th century until the beginning of the 17th century, covering all of the church’s walls. It is worth to admire the “Panagia Platitera” to the edge of sanctum and on the top, the “Ascension of Christ”. The icon of “Akras Tapinosis” (Total Humiliation)to the edge of offertory, the “Vision Of Agios Petros” and the “Sacrifice of Avraam” composing magnificent representations, like the zone of the Prophets and the whole body saints. One of the most well preserved representations with soft and warm colors is the “the miracle of Archangel Michael”, to whom the monastery is dedicated.
The Red Church
In recent years the church and the iconstasis have been repaired. The older despotic icons are great works of the Cretan Michael Gen, dated since 1723 and today are exhibited in the Collection of Post Byzantine Icons of Heptanisian Art, to the Public Library of Lefkada.
These are: “The Annunciation”, “The Mistress of Angels”, “The Christ King of the Kings” and the “Agios Ioannis Prodromos”. The wooden cut iconostasis is magnificent with 5 fantastic well preserved icons. The Red Church is one of the most significant Christian monuments of Lefkada.
The Monastery of Profitis Elias is located at Spanochori, and according to old documents, it had been granted crumbling from the Venetian government to the priest Venetio Vonasieri, who rebuilt it. In 1815 had been devolved to the government. It was renovated recently and is now, open to the public.
The monastery of Agios Ioannis
It was probably built in 1654, over the foundations of an ancient Doric temple of Dimitra, goddess of agriculture and fertility. According to the superstition, if a childless couple prays in the church and steps on the entrance’s doorstep, will have a child. The ruins of an ancient temple like the Doric capitals and a part of the paved ground are still preserved.
Around the end of 18th century, the monastery was devolved to the government and in 1797 had been granted to the Monastery of Asomatos in Vafkeri. The main church which is well preserved, inside a large surrounding, was extended many times. The cells of the monks were increased together with auxiliary spaces. Fragments of wall painting to the east wall of catholicon are also well preserved with exceptional technique. On the edge of the sanctum you can admire the imposing figure of Platitera.
On the offertory, Akra Tapinosi and the protomartyrs Stefanos and Agios Romanos are represented. Despite the damage of representations, its artistry is strongly appeared.
The Monastery of Agios Georgios in Marantochori. It was founded at the end of the 16th century or at the beginning of 17th century, the latest until 1620. The monastery was small but rich with many fields. In 1922, according to local’s testimonies, the church became an isolation place for people infected from variola. After the epidemic, they were hammering and whitewashing the walls for disinfection. The small catholicon of the monastery was full of wall paintings, from which a very small number is preserved together with a part of the iconostasis of exceptional wood carving art, dated around the middle of 18th century. There you can find 2 interesting icons of Virgin Mary and Christ.
The Monastery of Agios Kirikos in Athani. It was founded during the Turkish domination. Small and restricted, became a property of the Monastery of Archangel Asomatos of Vafkeri, in the 18th century. It collapsed from the earthquakes and rebuilt.
The Orea Pili (Beautiful gate, the middle from the 3 gates of the sacrum) of its catholicon irepresents Christ, one of the oldest, now located in the church of Panagias Rachiotissas.
The Monastery of Agios Nikolaos, 3 Km east from Nikoli. In the past, it had been the catholicon of a small monastery which was built, according to testimonials, in 1651. Its only entrance is located on the south side of the church and on its lintel has a carved cross with an epigraphy. The ruins, all around, confirm the existence of the monastery.
The Agios Ioannis Prodromos
It is said that this nun, with her Meganissian assistant Vasillis Politis, was begging in order to fulfill her goal and managed to visit the Tsar of Russia, in order to collect the necessary amount. The monastery was rebuilt and the nun lived there until her death. Her grave is located between the foundation of the old and new wall of the sacrum.