#222 Chrisospiliotissa Monastery

Location

Between the dry Xirovouni and the imposing Tzoumerka, we identify one of the scattered and thinly populated villages now, the Gouriana. This also belongs to the Municipal Unit of Agnanta.

The monastery of Chrysospyliotissa is geographically situated in an imposing, idyllic spot, a commanding but also evocative location in the Tziouma place of Tzoumerka Mountains at an altitude of 750 m, at the root of a cliff, near the village.


Construction Data

It's a single cross-shaped vaulted basilica with a dome to which was added later a wooden roofed narthex.

The church interior is full of paintings, which however have suffered the ravages of time, but also the plundering from the occasional Turkish raids.

The paintings are dated in 1801.

(http://el.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%9A%CE%AC%CF%84%CF%89_%CE%93%CF%81%CE%B1%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%B9%CE%BA%CF%8C_%CE%86%CF%81%CF%84%CE%B1%CF%82)

The same applies to the carved iconostasis of exceptional art, which bears glyphic representations of various themes (animals, birds, angels, evangelical scenes, etc.). Of special interest is the image of the Nativity of Mary (project 1831).

 

Historical Data

According to scholar G. Papageorgiou, 'it is so evocative this site, chosen by the denialists of the worldly things... that understandably from the first time the visitor feels the chills of a religious awe'.

It is glebe of the Monastery of Theotokios and honors the memory of the Nativity of the Virgin. Tradition has it, that the caves around the monument, converted into a hidden School by the monks throughout the Turkish occupation.

Again according to tradition, its epithet is due to a cave found in its precinct and in which one golden icon of Virgin Mary was found, which unfortunately today is not preserved.

According to Seraphim Xenopoulos the church was built in the 11th century, although probably he refers to the initial building, as revealed by the technique of the present church.

This is confirmed by an inscribed plaque walled in the conch of the south wall of the church, from which we learn that in 1663 the monument was radically reconstructed, when it took its current form, which points to the most common type of Epirotic church during the Turkish occupation.

Rare heirlooms of the monastery are kept in Gouriana. Most important of which are some liturgical books (published in Venice), a Holy Chalice, and a reliquary - everything from the early 19th century.

"Today, apart from the church and the two fountains in its courtyard, nothing is reminiscent of the old monastery. Chrysospiliotissa, however, compensates the guest who will have the strength and courage to climb high up there to enjoy the beauty of the landscape and venerate its grace ".

Additional information of historical, cultural and tourism interest

The "proud Tzoumerka" as mentions characteristically the folk music tradition, generously offer visitors wealth of pictures and colors. They usually are haracterized by the changes in the landscape and the towering snow-capped mountains. They have unspoilt natural environment and rich cultural tradition, a variety of historical monuments (archaeological sites, oracles) and museums. The traditional villages, the manners and customs, the hospitality, the traditional music and gastronomy, meet the requirements of even the most demanding visitor. The region of Central Tzoumerka has common historical, social, economic and cultural characteristics, but each village gives its own touch, its own distinctive feature, thus completing the fantastic mosaic called Tzoumerka.

In the villages one can find antiquities (remains of city walls, tombs etc.), Byzantine and post-Byzantine monuments (monasteries, churches), stone bridges (Bridge of Plaka, Bridge in Chatzigiannaiika (Athamanio), Neraidogefyro (in Voulgareli) etc, houses (ie. the Koulies in Theodoriana) and pre-industrial buildings, eg. Watermill (property of Kafkas) in the settlement of Potamia, Watermill - Nerotrivi - Mantania in Agnanta etc. From the monasteries-churches indicative are mentioned the following: The Red Church, the Church of Faneromeni, the Ascension Church and the Church of Panagia in Agnanta, the Church of Saint Michael and Gabriel in Mikrospilia, Church of St. John in Vatatsi settlement, while there are many more remarkable churches-monasteries to visit.



Regarding the museum collections, there are in Central Tzoumerka the Agricultural Museum in Perama (in Distrato), the "Folk Art and Life Museum", life work of Pantelis Karalis (in Kipseli), the stone built Folklore Museum (former school building) and a photography exhibition in Tetrakomo.

Tzoumerka, besides the historical and cultural interest, have gained in recent years a loyal tourism audience, visiting the area and the multitude of sports, outdoor activities offered. Hiking, Cycling trails, rafting and Kayak (in Arachthos and in the artificial lake Pournari, respectively), riding (next to Arachtos or Voulgareli) are just some of the activities in which lovers of alternative tourism can indulge.



Also, of the most adventurous mountain activities is certainly paragliding, parapente, while there is also a Moto-Cross track in Filothei of Arta, where sometimes competitions are organized.

Finally, the area of Tzoumerka has many shops, restaurants, cafes, hotels and rooms to let, traditional market, shops selling local products and handicrafts, thereby satisfying the requirements of the most demanding visitor.