HOSIOS LOUKAS

The monastery of Hosos Loukas, built n the west-slopes of Mount Helkon, near ancient Stiris, is perhaps the most important monument of the Middle Byzantne period in Greece. During the roughly ten centuries since its foundation, the monastery has played leading role in the historical vicissitudes of the area. It won the favour of emperors and officials during the Byzantine period. During the Frankish period it passed into the possession of an order of Catholic monks and subsequently suffered the destructive frenzy and plundering of Catalan and Turkish conquerors. During the Greek Uprising of 1821 it was a base for "armatoloi" and "klephtes" (freedom fighters).

 


According
to the "Life" of the saint, "Hosios Loukas settled in the area of Stiris and founded monastic community in 946. After his death in 953, the rumour that his relic worked miracles brought great numbers of believers to the monastery to be healed, and the original buildings gave way to more monumental structures.

n its present form, the monastery complex consists of a group of two churches, flanked by cells and ancillary buildings. It is protected by an enclosure wall with towers at the corners.

The church of the Panayia is the earlier of the two. It seems highly likely that it was built at the initiative of the emperor Romanos 11.(959-963), immediately after the great historical event predicted by Hosios Loukas, the Byzantine recapture of Crete from the Arabs in 961. Its architectural type, pioneering in Greece at the time, is that of the complex tetrastyle church, which was very widely found in Constantinople.


Other features include the superb cloisonne masonry with its pseudocufic decoration, and the abundance and high quality of the sculptural decoration, which is not confined to the interior but also extends to the exterior facing of the drum of the dome. Examination of these details reveals the enormous outlay required, and also that teams of craftsmen were summoned from the capital of the empire. The robust figure of Joshua, the only one to survive of the original mural decoration of the monument, appears to be the work of Constantinopolitan painter. The representation could be seen on the exterior of the west wall of the church of the Panayia until the construction of the second church, when this side was incorporated into its north-east corner.

The church of Hosios Loukas was built in the first half of the l0th c. The donor is said to have been the Abbot Philotheos or Theodoros Leovachos, who belonged to prominent Theban families of landowners and state functionaries, or the emperor Constantine Monomachos himself. new architectural type was employed, that of the domed octagon church, the main feature of which was the huge dome supported on squinches, leaving the main area unified and unbroken. The wisdom of the composition, the perfection of its execution, and the wealth and quality of the decorative materials used in the paved marble floors, the wall revetments, the brilliant mosaics and wall-paintings, all make this monument one of the most important of its period.

The mosaic decoration is dominated by figures of saints - monks, church fathers and military saints. One of the main features is the use of an outline to indicate the figures, which have pronounced static quality and large, ecstatic eyes. The same hieratic manner is followed by the wall-paintings in the side bays of the church and in the crypt.

The refectory, now restored, has been used since 1993 as sculpture museum, in which are displayed high quality marble architectural members from the buildings of the monastery and in the surrounding area. n the stable, which is also restored, are displayed wall-paintings dating from the l8th c., detached from the church of Ayios Spyridon Medeonos, in the area of Antikyra.

Since 1990 the monument has been included in the UNESCO List of Properties Included in the World Heritage List.

 

The abbey decorated with marbles, frescos and mosaic works, is a true jewel for the region  and for the whole Greece. 


A. KTOLIKO OF HOSIOS LOUKAS
B. CHURCH OF PANAYIA
. REFECTORY
. UNDERGROUND CISTERN
. HEARTH
. MODERN ENTRANCE
. BELL-TOWER
. OLD FOUNTAIN
0. NEW FOUNTAIN
-. OLD CELLS
. OLD STOREROOMS
. CALEFACTORIUM
. EAST GATE
. STABLE
. OLD TOWER
. LATER CELLS
I. HYPOSTYLE HALL
. OLD TOWER

 

 

 

 

 

The monastery is open with tickets  for foreigners at 8.00am - 7.00pm 
(closes 2.00 - 4.00 pm) for the period of 3/5 - 15/9 and at 8.00am - 5.00pm for the period of 16/9 - 2/5. Because of the early Eastern, this year it will be open at 8.00am - 6.00pm for the period of 1/4 - 2/5 and especially for this year's Olympic period it will be open at 8.00am - 7.00pm during the Olympic Games.
 

For further info please call: Tel. +30 22670 22 797,
or +30 210 321 3571
2003 ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECEIPTS FUND