#48 Monastery of Panagia of Stomio

Location

Crossing on foot the bridge of Konitsa, the slopes of Tymphi and Aoos National Park, and after a two hour hike, we arrive at the Holy Monastery of Stomio. The monastery is located in one of the most impressive sites of the area, between the steep slopes of Gamila (2497 m altitude) and Trapezitsa ( 2022 m. altitude),beside the river Aoos,at the place where a ''spout''-opening of the ravine is formed.


Construction Data

In recent years, the monastery was subjected to various restoration and preservation works, while the roof of the main, central temple was covered by lead sheets.


Historical Data

In the past, the monastery was built on the right bank of the ravine, at Paliomonastiro. ''The Monastery had a great fortune and was spending considerable amounts for the Greek school that was operating in Konitsa. From the early 20th century, the monastery remained inactive and was abandoned. In 1943 it was burned down by the German troops. Despite the fact that its cells were burned, the main central temple, which is built in the style of Mount Athos, survived.

From Paliomonastiro, as it is called, some items were preserved like , fragments of the iconostasis, the ''Bimothiro'' (a religion book) of the ancient gate, old Byzantine icons, ecclesiastical books and Saints' holy relics, such as Great Basileios', Ioannis Chrisostomos', Kosmas Anargyros', Martyr and Avower Samoni's and Saint Alypios's of Kionitos.

Abbot Constantinos transferred the monastery at its current location in 1774, and according to the inscription on the right of the entrance

In the past, there was a great conflict regarding the ownership of the monastery, between Konitsa and the village of Vrisochori of Zagori. Today, after many years of disputes, the final court decision ruled that the monastery is under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan temple of Konitsa.

The quarrels began in the early years of the operation of the monastery. In 1798, after the issue of a Sultan's order, Stomio is included in the community of Vrisochori (Lesinitsa).As it seems, the order was not acknowledged by Konitsa's authorities, which resulted in repeated protests by the authorities of Brisochori.

So, in 1812 Ali Pasha sends the following message to the Abbot of the monastery, which is reproduced in Nicholas Exarchos' book, called ''Brisochori of Zagori":

"Father Monk Laurentios,

When you get this message, hand the monastery over to the Lenintsiotes immediately. Even if the Sultan's order was about Konitsa, then Konitsa would be theirs as well. If you do not do it, then the iron tipped Black Snake is going to eat you (that means: you are going to die).

The end."

Ali Pasa of Ioannina, July 5 1812."

After Ali Pasas' letter, the situation was settled and compromises were reached between the two sides. But that lasted until Ali's death, when the disputes about the construction of the temple appeared again.

Today, the monastery of Stomio is an active male only monastery. It is like a fort and has a tall enclosure, inside of which there is a three-niche domed church as well as eleven newly built cells with auxiliary rooms.

The monk Paisios (Eznepidis) of Mount Athos lived for approximately four years in the Holy Monastery of Stomio.

The monastery of Panagia of Stomio celebrates on the 8th of September, when naturalists, pilgrims and mountaineers flock to the area.



Additional information of historical, cultural and tourism interest

Konitsa during recent years has become one of the most attractive destinations for Greek and foreign travelers, since apart from hosting countless activities, it also has numerous places of historical, cultural, civil and natural interest.

From the Early Christian and Byzantine period (4th century AD - 1430), some of the monuments preserved are, the castle (14th century), the church of the Red Panagia (late 13th century) in the Konitsa field, the temple of St. Nikolaos (14th century), the temple of St. Dimitrios (11th century) and the Monasteries of Theotokos (14th century) and of Metamorfosi Sotiros (1305) in Kleidonia. From the Ottoman period (1430-1913) remain, the temple of St .Apostles (1791), the Muslim mosque of Suleiman (16th century) the cathedral of St. Nikolas (1842), the residence of Hamko (18th century), the residence of Sisko (1845), the temple of St. Apostles (1537), the temple of St. Athanasios (1617) and the chapel of Neo-Martyr George, with 120 pictures made from Chioniadites painters.

An introduction to the town's traditional architecture can be done in Upper Konitsa, where most of the mansions and housing estates, built during the Ottoman period, can be found. In the area there are more than 50 preserved buildings, from which the ones standing out are, the Husein Bey Sisko, the Hamko residential estate, the Mpekiareiko, the Floreiko, the Papadiamantis residence, the Schinias residence, the Voudasis residence, the Housious residence, and others.

One of the trademark attractions of the region is undoubtedly the large singe arched bridge of Konitsa, which imposes at the edge of the settlement, in the Aoos gorge. The infamous bridge was built in 1870 by chief mason Zioga Frontzo form Pirsogianni and its dimensions are 20 x 40. It is a true monument of architectural heritage that one ought's to visit on his way to Konitsa.

One can also encounter great monuments of historical and cultural heritage, in the villages around Konitsa, like the "Kleidi" and "Mpoila" rockshelters that host findings indicating the existence of human presence in the region since the Late Stone Age, and the "Megalakkos" cave.

In the Kleidonia village, which is located on the outskirts of the Konitsa plain, at a distance of 14km from the town, the visitor is advised to visit the homonymous bridge, the temple of the Metemorfosis tou Sotiros, and the Monastery of St. Anargiroi.

The bridge of Kleidoniavista or Voidomati, is a single arched bridge situated on the banks of Voidomatis River, and connects Zagori with Konitsa. It was built in 1853 and was funded (37000 grosz) by the benefactor Mpalkiz Hanoum of Malik Pasha. The bridge's name was derived from the almost abandoned mountainous village of Kleidoniavista( Upper Kleidonia). It is a single arched bridge, with 20m span and 9,15m height, while its deck is cobbled (paved in a kalnterimi style)

Mpourazani is located approximately 12 km from Konitsa. Mpourazani is not a village, but an area subjected to the Aidonochori community, with rich natural environment and remarkable touristic growth over the last years.

In the region we can find the base of the Mpourazani Environmental Park, which spreads over an area of 1200 acres. It contains rich vegetation and is home to various species of wild animals, like deer, wild boars, and wild goats. In addition the village there is an operational Museum of Natural History

At the point where Aoos meets the Nemertsika foothills, we encounter the Monastery of Koimiseos of Theotokou Molivdoskepastis. According to tradition, it was built by Emperor Konstantinos Pagonatos in the 7th century AD and derived its name from the led plates that used to cover its central temple. From the 12th until the 17th century the Monastery was the seat of the Pogonianis Archdiocese, while from the 14th century it operated as a chirographer school. In July 1943 it was bombed by the occupation armies, resulting to the destruction of the cells and the diner. The central byzantine rhythm temple of the Monastery together with its wood carved templon, are particularly interesting.

At the end of the route through the Lakka Aoou villages, we find Distrato, which is built below the Gomara summit (alt. 2126m) of Vasilitsa. There are three neighborhoods (machalades) in Distrato: The Machalitsio (Lower machalas), where byzantine and roman/ancient tombs were discovered, the Middle machalas and the Upper machalas (machlelou nti tziana).

Approaching the infamous Mastorochoria villages, we make our first stop in Pirsogianni, which is built amphitheatrically on the slopes of Mount Steno at 860m. While walking on its graphic alleys we can admire the mansions and elaborate stone constructs, most of which were built in 1750.

In Pirsogianni we also find the National Museum of Epirotes Masons.

The Vikos-Aoos National Park is one of the areas included in Natura 2000 network and since 2005 in the National Park of Northern Pindos. The Park is distributed between the municipalities of Konitsa, Central Zagoria and Timfi, as well as the Papigo community. Its total area reaches 13.000 hectares and includes the Aoos ravine to the north, the Vikos and Voidomatis gorges to the south, as well as a large section of the Timfi mountain range.

Nature lovers and alternative activities enthusiasts will find their paradise on earth, in Konitsa. Hiking, climbing, and all sorts of mountain and river activities are automatically connected with the town's name, because in addition to being a town of historical significance, in recent years it has evolved to an unofficial "capital" of alternative touristic activities in the Prefecture of Ioannina.