#74 Monastery of Molivdoskepasti

Location

The Koimiseos of Theotokou Molivdoskepastis monastery is built at the confluence of Aoos and Sarantaporos rivers, near the borders between Greece and Albania, and at a short distance from the homonym village (Molibdoskepasto).


Construction Data

The current monastery of Molivdoskepasti has a fortress-like structure and a high enclosure. Its Byzantine-style main temple consists of an undersized triconch Temple, which is assumed to be built in different periods

On the western side of the narthex there are murals, depicting Konstantinos Pogonatos and Andronikos Palaiologos. In the north and south sides there used to be two chapels dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. Paraskevi, but they are destroyed.

As indicated by the Monastery's construction, the triconch temple must have been built in the 11th century by craftsmen from the Macedonia region. This is assumed by taking into consideration the morphological features of the monastery, that can be observed on the exterior views of the main temple (a faceted apse of the sanctuary, lacy molding of the dome, blind arches of the dome).In addition, the rectangular cross-shaped part of the church, must have been built on the west side around the 14th century.

The wood-carved iconostasis of the church which is based on the remnants of an older marble iconostasis is also impressive. The handwritten Gospel of the monastery which is dated back to the 12th-13th century, as well as the miraculous icon of the Virgin the Vrefokratousa and the 14th-century wood-carved door, which is a sample of Byzantine woodcraft are also remarkable relics.

 

Historical Data

The name of the monastery originates from the lead plates which covered the roof of the main temple in the past, instead of tiles or stone tiles

According to tradition the monastery was founded by the Emperor Konstantinos Pogonatos, on the return journey from his campaign in Sicily (671-672 a.d). However, the architecture of the monument does not confirm its foundation in the 7th century. The monastery was renovated by the Emperor Andronikos Palaiologos (1328-1341 A.D)and by the residents of Pogoniani, in 1522.The residents have also created hagiographies inside the main temple.

The monastery was the seat of the Archdiocese of Pogoniani from the 12th to the 17th century. It operated as a chirography school since the 14th century, in which monk-teachers taught chirography at monks and other common people. Many scholars and writers of the era graduated from this school.

However, at times the monastery suffered from countless looting and destruction. In July 1943, the monastery was bombed by the Nazis, its cells and dining room were burned and the main temple was plundered.

Today, the monastery is an active male only monastery and celebrates every year on the 15th of August. It must be mentioned that lead plates were recently repositioned on the roof of the main temple.

In the courtyard of the monastery, behind the sanctuary is the tomb of blessed Metropolitan of Dryinopolis, Konitsa and Pogoniani, Sebastian's.


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.