Already the journey from Leptokarya to the monastery Agia Triada is an experience. We cross the Olympus from west to east.
From some places eg (N 40.030557, O 22.510613) one can see the coastal section of Agiokambos in Thessaly in the south, over the entire Olympos Riviera and Thessaloniki, up to the Halkidiki peninsula. On clear days you can even see the holy mountain, the Mount Athos.
Worth mentioning is the well-marked so-called "Magnetic Point" (N 40.035115, O 22.516976). This road section is given the property of reversing gravity. Is there something true? Look for yourself and make up your mind.
Just before the road winds down again, there is a platform created from overburden of road construction (N 40.024502, O 22.488118). This is the highest point of the route. We pass the monastery Kanalon and drive further toKarya. We pass this village and cross the villages of Sikaminea and Kriovrisi. We continue downhill to a riverbed. The bridge (39 ° 59'30.79 "N, 22 ° 17'6.12" E) is crossed, then we turn right and follow the signs "Olympos Ski Center". If you follow the road to the end, you reach the monastery of Sparmos.
The Monastery of Agia Triada, Sparmou (Holy Trinity, Sparmos, 40.013970 N, 22.316261 O) is located just off the usual tourist paths, on the western slopes of Mount Olympus. It is a very old monastery and it houses remarkable art treasures.
It is located at a branch of the road that from Leptokarya to Elassona.
After leaving the narrow curves of the last kilometer behind, the building is suddenly in full force in front of the visitor. Through a high gate one drives to the fortress-like plant. A tower overlooks the high exterior walls, which are interrupted only by small, barred windows from the second floor. At the northern part, four massive retaining walls reinforce the statics of the outer wall, which is about one meter thick. The ground plan is a pentagon, the church (Katholikon) is the central building. The monks' cells run around them. The wooden entrance door is covered with iron and is very stable. It can take a while before one of the monks opens after ringing and lets the visitor in.
The exact date of the foundation is not known. Over the centuries saved records prove however that the monastery at least since the year 1386 was inhabited. Like the monastery of Saint Dionysius in Litochoro is Agia Triada stavropegial and directly assigned to the Patriarch of Constantinople.
The monastery's best times began at the beginning of the 17th century with its peak in the second half of the 18th century. The church was renovated in 1633. The oldest, very well-preserved icons are also from this period. The cells of the monks were completed around 1739. The monastery got its property, became largely self-sufficient and had the financial possibilities to engage in external affairs. The most difficult years were those of the Turkish occupation. During this time, the monks helped the people to keep faith. The way of life following the liturgy gave people support and orientation.
The monastery was one of the liturgical schools of Orthodox Christianity as well as Thessaloniki, Constantinople or Venice. Particularly educated monks not only kept the Greek language alive, but they also taught the population. A library and a study room were established, the bookbinding workshop was practiced by experienced monks from the 17th to the 19th century. Many of the manuscripts and books of that period were saved and are located in the Monastery of Panagia Olympiotissa. Some copies are exhibited in the museum.
During the liberation struggle against the Turkish occupiers the monastery supported the Greek fighters. Because of its location, far from the Turkish administration in Elassona, the monks could act relatively freely. They hid fighters and ammunition, cared for clothes and provisions.
From the middle of the 19th century the slow decline began, and in the second decade of the 20th century the last monks left the monastery. For about 80 years it was closed. After the introduction of the Metropolitan of Elassona, Basileios, the reconstruction began. With the help of the people from the surroundings, the present jewel was created. In 2000, the first monks returned to the renovated monastery to manage the legacy of their former brothers.
The combination of old and new meet the visitor everywhere. On a tour you might think you are moving in a newly built monastery. Almost everything was renovated recently. The walls, the roof tiles, the plasterwork, the windows, the floor, even the bells seem to be new. But if you enter the museum, or go into the twilight of the church, you will be moved back centuries. To the inside of the convent, the rooms of the second storey are supported by columns. Architecturally, the colonnades (arcades) create a shadowy colonnade, forming a walkway around the church. Benches invite the visitor to rest, the friendly monks offer him a candy and a glass of water.
From the colonnades are the entrances to the museum and the small shop of the monks, as well as to the areas of the monastery which are not accessible to the visitor.
A small, very old well on the south side, donates holy water. In the south-west you can find the bell-tower of the monastery. By hitting the wooden board (Semantron) with a hammer, the monks are called to prayer.
Four chapels belong to the property, of which the chapel of Saint Haralambus is located on the site of the monastery. The chapel of the All Saints, the chapel of the High Saint Theotokus and the chapel dedicated to John the Baptist are located outside the grounds.
As mentioned above, the church was renovated in 1633. It is 23 meters long, seven meters wide and has external walls of one meter. It is a simple, straight building, covered with natural stones. It consists of the antechamber, the church room and the altar room, which is separated from the iconostasis, the iconic wall, only accessible to the priests.
Through small windows penetrates light, the paintings, the carvings, the icons, everything is in the half-dark. It almost disturbs as father Vasilis turns on the subtle light. All walls are painted with biblical or sacred motifs. The ceiling is made of wood and is shaped into different patterns painted in different colors. Over and over again ceiling paintings were admitted. Several chandeliers hung with wax candles hang from the ceiling. They are decorated with porcelain bowls and ostrich eggs. The floor is made of marble with beautiful inlays.
The door to the altar room was adorned with gilded wood carvings and icons. The old carvings of the iconostasis are pure craftsmanship. I do not want to describe them here, you have to see them yourself. Some of the icons are more recent because the old originals were stolen.
Many treasures are displayed on quite a few square meters. Precious robes, the oldest icons of the monastery from the year 1633 and books, which were partly bound here. Old silver vessels - which were used during the liturgy, precious embroideries and documents which are witnesses of the monastery's history, are shown.
Who would like to support the monks can shop in the small museum shop. In addition to icons, books and other devotional items, Mountain Tee, honey and herbs are sold at moderate prices.