#132 Monastery of Vella

Location

Near Kalpaki, on a green slope, extends one of the most important monasteries in the region, the Monastery of Vella. Of particular importance is the position which the monastery is located, since it was built on the ruins of the ancient city of the same name.

Construction Data

The monastery is impressive both for its architecture and for its size. This is a sprawling building complex, in which the katholikon and a landscaped patio area to the west stand out.

Architecturally, the Katholikon constitutes a three aisled basilica, which includes the nave and the Sanctuary. Almost all the rooms are decorated with frescoes, among which the depiction of ancient Greek historians and philosophers stands out.

Of particular beauty is the carved, gilded templon, characteristic of the 17th century art.

Historical Data

The monastery has a rich historical and cultural background. Initially, it formed an autonomous diocese until 1834. It then merged with the Archdiocese of Pogoniani. In 1863, it's detached again and remains independent. In 1936, it will be reunited with the Cathedral of Dryinoupoli, Pogoniani and Konitsa. Today the Monastery of Vella belongs to the Metropolis of Ioannina.

The Monastery, distinguished for the momentous educational and cultural project which it performed for centuries. From the 13th to the 17th century, it established a school which among others, taught Religion but also philosophy. The intellectual background the school is also reflected by the interesting frescoes of historians and philosophers in the katholikon of the monastery, a fact that indicates the hierarchy, in turbulent periods, of the historical and philosophical spirit.

The Monastery outside of its great intellectual capital, it also possessed considerable wealth. It was even in possession of a skete, the Transfiguration of Christ Monastery in Rimnicu Sarat of Wallachia. Under contracts, the Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ yielded annually a sum of money to Vella.

The continuous presence of the monastery, in the religious and cultural life of the region will be violently interrupted in 1817, when the monks would abandon it, resorting to Corfu, after the dangers faced by Ali Pasha, because of their refusal to the cede the church property.

The disorganized Monastery was attempted to be reconstituted by the Bishop of Vella and Konitsa Spyridon Vlachos, by founding in 1911, the seminary of Vella, which will be attended by candidate primary school teachers and priests, who will work in the surrounding regions. By a Presidential decree in 1977, it was divided in four-class ecclesiastical Lyceum and in three-class Ecclesiastical Pedagogical Academy. The seminary played an active role in the region, being a significant spiritual outlet in troubled times. It operated for 78 years from 1911 until 1989, and ceased its activity only between wars. The educational activity took place initially in the cells of the monastery, whereas during the period of 1928 - 1982, new buildings were erected, in which provision was made to accommodate 200 children.

Additional information of historical, cultural and tourism interest

Almost every village has surprises that challenge/cause the visitor to explore them.

Kefalovryso, the old big village of the area develops intense economic activity even today, because, apart from the livestock activities, it hosts the machining factory, the well-known "Metallurgical Industry", in which euro coins have been manufactured.

Dolo is one of the most beautiful villages in the region. Since 1978 it is a featured traditional settlement, due to its significant architectural features, which were stockpile.

Apart from people's works, Dolo is also endowed by nature, which gave it a unique landscape that is formed around Kouvaras' ravine.

Palaiopyrgos village has also a strong archaeological interest, as on the banks of Gormos river, in Plasi and Palioura location, the archaeological excavations brought to light two settlements of the early iron age.

Delvinaki has been the historical centre of Pogoni for years.

A village which stands out both for its rare beauty and its architectural heritage is Visani.

In Oreokastro village there are the sources of Glava, from which Gormos River is formed.

One of the most important economic and administrative centres of the region and the headquarters of the municipality of Ano Kalamas is Parakalamos which is located at an altitude of 400 m. and is 45km. away from Ioannina.

A unique natural gem of the area is Zaravina Lake. The Lake is included in the area of the Natura 2000 network, under the name "Mount Douskon, Oraiokastro, Meropi forest, Gormos plain, Lake of Delvinaki (GR 2130010)" band indeed is one of the main reasons for the integration of the region in the European network of protected areas.

In an area of rich vegetation and fascinating nature, there are the ravine and the waterfalls of Kalamas.

One of the most beautiful villages of the region, Pogoniani, stands out both for its natural environment and its cultural contribution.

Built amphitheatrically, near Greek-Albanian borders, lies Staurodromi village. Amongst its buildings, St Ioannis' the Baptist church stands out, which was built in 1183 and is one of the oldest monasteries in Epirus.

Near to the frontier station and to the custom of Kakavia, there is Ktismata village. In the region the stain of the ancient greek culture is evident, because evaluatively, in Ktismata are kept the most important discoveries of Pogoni. There we meet findings of the ancient city "Kastri", which is the second oldest city of Epirus.