10 Amazing Monasteries To Visit In Athens, Greece

monasteries in athens
| 5 min read

Picture Athens and you immediately conjure up scholars and emperors eating cheese, grapes, and figs, debating about the state of their nation. What doesn’t usually appear in immediate association, though, are the lives of scholarly monks and their quiet life in monasteries. Greek monasteries are very much part of the country’s scholarly history and are a must-visit when you’re here. Many of ancient history’s best minds are connected to the history of these monasteries, from saints and mathematicians to poets and philosophers. If you’re ever in Athens, its monasteries should definitely be part of your itinerary. Here are the most amazing monasteries to visit in Athens, Greece.

1. Evangelistria Monastery

Evangelistria 05
Source: Photo by user sailko used under CC BY 2.5

This beautiful monastery on top of Skiathos is also called the Monastery of the Annunciation. It is important to the history of Greece because it houses the loom where the first Greek flag was created. You’ll find important artifacts here, as well such as rare books and manuscripts from the 17th century.

While the monastery’s monk population has dwindled greatly from its early days, it’s still a lovely place to return to time and time again. Following ancient practice, when monasteries were built on top of isolated cliff tops to help monks live a more venerable and ascetic life, you’ll have to hike from Skiathos up a metalled road to reach the monastery. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful scenery. Try Evangelistria’s own brand of wine, called Alypos, a red Muscat wine grown on the island. Entrance is free – you’ll only have to pay with the sweat of your brow.

Evangelistria Monastery

Address: Ιερά, Σκιάθου, Moni Evaggelistrias 370 02, Greece

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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2. Monastery of Panagia Spiliani

The Monastery of Panagia Spiliani in Samos, also known as the Virgin of the Cave, is a small monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Another part of this monastery’s mysticism is the belief that the cave under which it was built is the teaching place of the famous mathematician, Pythagoras. Remember the Pythagorean Theorem from your Geometry Class? Yes, that Pythagoras. It also happens to have a remarkable view of the Pythagorian.

Monastery of Panagia Spiliani

Address: Pithagorio 831 03, Greece

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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3. Great Meteoron

The Great Meteoron Monastery is the biggest and oldest monastery in Athens. The whole monastery looks like it’s suspended in the air because it was constructed on top of a huge rock. Because of its inaccessibility, many of the items that the monks used here, such as their soup hearth and bread oven, are still very much intact.

Even more mesmerizing are the 16th-century and Byzantine fresco details painted all over the walls. The monastery now also has a museum where historical codices and religious icons can be found.

Great Meteoron

Address: Kalabaka 422 00, Greece

Opening hours: Fri - Sun: 9am - 2pm (closed Tue - Thu)

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4. Monastery of Agia Triada

Monastery of Agia Triada
Source: Photo by Flickr user Nelo Hotsuma used under CC BY 2.0

This monastery and museum were built in the 17th century by the Zangaroli brothers. Within the monastery, you’ll find a library which still holds rare books and exhibits from St. John the Theologian, works by Emmanuel Skordiles, and an old manuscript that documents the mass of St. Basil. The monks who reside here also sell wine and olive oil that guests can purchase and enjoy on the premises.

Monastery of Agia Triada

Address: Moni Agias Triados ton Tzagkarolon 731 00, Greece

Opening hours: 5am - 6pm (daily)

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Athens Tour Guide



5. The Monastery of Mega Spilaio

Be awestruck by the awesome view that overlooks the Vouraikos River when you visit the Monastery of Mega Spilaio. Found in a large cave that leads to a cliff, the monastery is known to be one of the oldest in Greece. It is also where the daughters of Proetus were said to have sought refuge when he went mad.

But this monastery really only gained fame when it became the residence of the Orthodox Metropolitan of Patras in 1354. Since then, it’s been destroyed and rebuilt countless times and is a testament to the power of human resilience.

The Monastery of Mega Spilaio

Address: Kalavryta Municipality 250 01, Greece

Opening hours: 9am - 3pm (daily)

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6. Monastery of Hosios Loukas

monasteries in athens | monastery of hosios loukas
Source: instagram

On the slopes of Mount Helicon is the monastery of Hosios Loukas, or the Venerable Luke of Steiris. St. Luke was the saint who predicted the fall of Crete by the hands of Emperor Romanos. His relic is found between the two churches of Hosios Loukas, which are made of three materials – stone, marble, and brick, the location of which is said to be the source of a type of perfumed oil that can heal anyone who uses it.

Monastery of Hosios Loukas

Address: Distomo 320 05, Greece

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

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7. Monastery of Saint John the Theologian

The monastery of Saint John the Theologian is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known for its Cave of the Apocalypse, where Saint John was said to have dictated the Book of Revelation to his disciple. The monastery is also known for its beautiful polygonal structure, complete with crenellations and towers. Other than the architecture, you’ll find a wide collection of icons, manuscripts, and liturgical artwork here.

Monastery of Saint John the Theologian

Address: Patmos 855 00, Greece

Opening hours: 8am - 1:30pm & 4pm to 6pm (daily)

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8. Arkadi Monastery

The Arkadi Monastery has been part of Cretan history for over eight centuries. This is where many monks used to copy manuscripts and do embroidery work with gold, a novelty in the 17th century. The monastery is also the site of the attack by over 30,000 Ottomans, led by Sulayman. Many women and children hid in the monastery before their eventual surrender.

In the monastery, you’ll still find the Bullet Tree, the cypress that witnessed the attack, and a Katholikon church.

Arkadi Monastery

Address: Patmos 855 00, Greece

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

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9. Mount Athos Monasteries

The Mount Athos Monasteries is a collection of 20 monasteries found on Mount Athos or the Holy Mountain. The Holy Mountain is found in northeastern Greece. This collection of monasteries is perhaps the most traditional in keeping to its 1,800 years of Christian traditions and many of the monks here have chosen to isolate themselves and live a monastic life.

Monks come here from all over Europe, including Georgia, Romania, Russia, and Serbia. Because of their strict routines, the Mount Athos Monasteries can only be accessed by men and women are not allowed inside.

Mount Athos Monasteries

Address: Mount Athos 630 86, Greece

Opening hours: 9am - 3pm (daily)

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10. Monastery of Kaisariani

monasteries in athens | monastery of kaisariani
Source: instagram

The Monastery of Kaisariani was first a temple of Aphrodite before it became a Christian basilica in the 10th century. While the monastery underwent a storied history and for a time was laid to ruin, it eventually was utilized as a Katholikon and is protected by large, thick walls. It also has a refectory, a bathhouse, and several monks’ cells.

Monastery of Kaisariani

Address: Kesariani 161 22, Greece

Opening hours: 8:30am - 3:30pm (daily)

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Appreciating the storied history of monasteries

While many of these locations seem elevated and too inaccessible for comfort, visiting them gives you a first-hand experience of the monastic practices that have moulded great minds through the practice of silence, simplicity, and a certain harmony with nature. May the open sea and the olive groves inspire you to lead a more contented life, very much like Greece’s ancient monks who lived in these amazing monasteries in Athens, Greece.

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Johanna Michelle Lim is a brand strategist, creative director, and travel writer based in Cebu City, Philippines. She swims in jellyfish-infested oceans, treks through mountains, rides rickety...Read more

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