Die Gipfel

The Monastery of Saint Dionysios

To the village Litochoro belonging exist two monasteries consecrated to Saint Dionysios. The older of the two monasteries is located at an elevation of 850 m at the edge of the Enipeas Gorge .

The old Monastery

There are two ways to get there. The sporty variant leads from Litochoro along the E4 long-distance trail towards Prionia. The way to the monastery is not signposted, but still very easy to find.
From the sacred spring and the chapel of Dionysios, which are directly on the way, there are still about 20 minutes walk to the monastery. After crossing the wooden bridge over the Enipeas, a path leads to the right after several hundred meters. Initially, the kicks are formed from roots, later stages allow the comfortable ascent The less cumbersome way to visit the monastery is the ride on the asphalt road from Litochoro. You'll pass the Olympus National Park Information Center and drive past the new monastery. After 18 km, two kilometers before Prionia, the exit to the monastery is signposted.

Please respect the requests of the monks to the visitors: (Please click):

In the monastery, women are allowed access to all areas. However with the request for propper clothing. Short skirts and short tops are frowned upon. Directly behind the entrance door lie some adequate clothing, from which woman can borrow a suitable skirt to wear over her clothes. Smoking is not permitted in the monastery. The monks expect a proper attitude to the sacred place.

In 1542 it was founded by the Saint Dionysius and devoted to the Holy Trinity. Surrounded by strong high walls and towered by a watchtower, it resembled a small fortress.
During various conflicts it served as a shelter for civilians, but also for fighting troops. Today the visitor can see a ruin from the outside. In its history the monastery has been destroyed and rebuilt several times.
In 1821 Veli Pasha burnt it down. The last destructive blow, however, brought him the German Wehrmacht in April 1943. Since Greek freedom fighters had retreated in the monastery, it was first bombed and later blown.

As I walked into the place, a colorful picture presented itself to me. Over the balconies were hung ceilings and sheets, which were aired after the winter. I met Father Christodolos and talked with him for a while. "The old monastery is inhabited by a part of us only in the summer," he said. "In the winter we are lodged down in the new monastery". He took care of the necessary repairs and yes, I could look around.

The contrast between old and new is striking. The sacred place was inhabited for over 500 years. The monks were known for their skill in iconographic painting and copying of books. The surrounding forest and the vast Metochion, on which the new monastery was built, are part of the possession of the monastery. Slightly above, in Prionia (in English sawmill), it had its own sawmill.

It can be seen that the monks are not defeated again this time and gradually rebuild the plant. Thus the tower was rebuilt and the Katholikon, the church, was rebuilt. Also the cells of the monks are partially habitable again.

In a well, which has apparently survived the destruction, water trickles. A metal drinking vessel attached to a chain invites the visitor to refresh themselves. Plants are overgrown with it, and the little garden in front of it is still a bit wild. In short: a picturesque spot.

The Katholikon is cross-shaped in the Byzantine style. In the north-western part is the tomb of Saint Dionysius, in the south-western part the tomb of St. Nikanor, a friend of the saint. The church is dominated by a huge chandelier under the dome in the main part of the building. A shrine in which an icon is kept is decorated with elaborate inlays The iconostasis is decorated with wood carvings. The carvings show, in addition to figures of the saint, other ecclesiastical motifs. In addition, there are illustrations of animals and plants. Nevertheless, many of these carvings are now machine-made, it is a feast for the eyes.

In contrast to the jewelry in Katholikon, the simplicity of the monk's cells stands. Father Christodolos allows me to enter and photograph a cell. The low entrance door is made of thick wood. If you want to enter a cell as an average large Central European, you have to bow. The floor is tiled, the walls are painted white, the ceiling is vaulted. Through the window one can hear the noise of the nearby Enipeas river.

The décor consists of two simple wooden beds, a small cabinet with a secretary and a stool. That's all. Like an anachronism, there are electrical and electrical lights. Especially since the monastery has no connection to the electricity network. Brother Christodolos told me that it is far beyond the financial resources of the monastery to have a power line installed. If electricity is needed, a gasoline-driven generator must help.

If you want to see the chapel at the holy spring, follow the well signposted path from the parking lot. After a few minutes you cross the Enipeas and continue to the right of the river After about 20 minutes you reach the chapel built under a protective rock.
The saint lived in low hut in front of the church. In the small church consecrated to the birth of Christ, he celebrated the Holy Mass. For those who are well on foot it is a worthwhile walk.


    As of an interview with Pater Christodolos
    Book: The Holy Patiarchical Ana Stavropegic Monastery of St. Dionysios of Olympus, published in 2014 (without ISBN)

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