Visit Vlatadon Monastery in Thessaloniki
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Vlatadon Monastery was founded in the mid 14th century by two brothers, Markus and Dorotheus. Its located at the top of the Old Town of Thessaloniki, a port city in northern Greece. A trek up to the Moni Vlatadon reveals both natural and created beauty, as well as a rich history of Thessaloniki and the Byzantine Era. Here’s more information
Early History of the Monastery
The monastery began its life thanks in part to a royal grant from Byzantine Empress Anna Palaiogos and was given royal status because of this. The brothers who founded the monastery are generally held to be from Thessaloniki by birth, traveling with Saint Gregory Palamas before returning to their home city. The monastery was built land where, according to legend, the Apostle Paul preached to the Thessalonians in 51 A.D, during his second mission.
In the 1380s, under Ottoman Turkish occupation, the main church was converted into a mosque, and the frescoes were plastered over. Eventually, it returned to being a Greek Orthodox church, and as it no longer claimed royal status by that time, the second Turkish occupation allowed it to remain a church, even entrusting it with relics from the Church of Hagia Sophia when the latter was converted into a mosque.
Abbot Ignotios Konstantinou led the Vlatadon Monastery through a period of renovations and repairs from 1755 to 1814. Over a century later, in 1965, the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies was founded there, as the monastery had become a place of learning.
Legends Associated with Vlatadon Monastery
One popular tale of the Vlatadon Monastery comes from its time under Ottoman occupation. A guard captain damaged the monastery and then became gravely ill. While he was sick, the guard captain had a dream of an old man who promised to cure him if he repaired the damage he had caused. The ill man did repair the monastery and recovered. From then on, he was a great friend to the church. There is some evidence that this story does coincide with historical fact, including the grave of a guard captain by the south door of the Katholikon (main church building), believed to be the captain from the story.
Spending Time at the Monastery
Vlatadon Monastery is a ranked as a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the fifteen that are in the city of Thessaloniki. Frescoes decorate the walls, and tour guides share the rich history of the monastery. There’s also a collection of religious art in a small museum on the grounds. Breathtaking panoramic views of Thessaloniki can be seen from the site and its surroundings. Occasionally, the monastery will also have temporary exhibits, such as one of early Christian icons in early 2019.
Vlatadon Monastery is a place to feel history come alive, learn about the past and see beautiful works of religious art. It is a connection to both the early days of Christianity and the rich tradition of Greek Orthodoxy. It is absolutely worth a visit, especially while visiting Thessaloniki!
This post was written by Greek Boston