The thousandth monastery

By on April 6th        0 Comments   /   show comments

 

The snow was melting on the mountain of Dirfi in Evia, in Central Greece and the spring sunshine was beautiful and most desired. I descended driving my car from Stropones village watching  the Aegean sea shining in front of me. The clarity of the atmosphere was unique: I could see clearly Sporades islands which are far far way. What a day…

 

I was counting the endless turns in slow speed and in the end I came out of a valley that led to the sea. I was driving beside the river that passes by Lamari village and the plane trees on the river banks were gray and bare. I said it was spring. But not completely …

 

 

Χιλιαδού, Εύβοια

 

 

A shepherd was leading a flock of goats along the asphalt paved road towards the river banks, which were covered with dry plane tree leaves. The beach was close.

“Good morning ! Do you know where the church of Virgin Mary is ? ” I asked.

He looked at me like I was an alien .

” Virgin Mary? What chapel my son ? “, he managed to mumble.

“The Virgin Mary of Hiliadou …» I continued asking undeterred .

“I … do not know … I do not know … ” he said looking at me like he had  a full-time criminal in front of him.

I realized that with that guy I could find out nothing.  And I left.

“Well … thank you … ” I said.

“Hey … Hey hopefully do you have cigarettes? ” he cried with an over- dare I say-  intimacy style.

“No … I do not smoke .” It was my turn to turn him down.

He neither responded … He whistled , the goats gathered somewhat and he continued his riverside trek.

 

Χιλιαδού, Εύβοια

 

I opened my army map, which I was bored to open until then. Yes, it shows the church. Eventually it was easier to find it than I imagined .

I saw the church shining through the gray plane trees on the south bank of the river, whitewashed, with stone tiled roof. And it was open .

The church of Virgin Mary Hiliadou is the main temple of the old monastery of the Assumption. According to tradition it was the thousandth (Hiliosti in Greek) Monastery which was built by the Byzantine Empress Theodora , hence Hiliadou the name. The cross-shaped church is dated to the 12th century (in the second half to be exact) .

Tradition says that the Empress built the monastery here because she supposedly found safe shelter from a storm at this beach, when she was sailing with her fleet. Though this is rather a myth… When the storm comes at this beach huge waves are coming too . It is a really exposed coast, especially with northern winds…

 

Χιλιαδού, Εύβοια

 

 

I saw some nice old paintings (not anything great though) and a truly elegant altar. It is carved and made by master carvers from Epirus region in 1890.

I sat at the coolness and the serenity of the temple for a while. I stared at the four pillars supporting the roof. I thought of the centuries that passed here with endless prayers and prostrations. Who were the monks?

I will not ever know. The old cells are ruined . But I saw the old stone floor with slabs of stone scorched from the monks’ slippers during the ages . I am always touched with old temples’ floors. They define time over their spoilage. What we overtake by stepping on it.

 

Χιλιαδού, Εύβοια

 

 

Before leaving I looked up at the stone image of the Virgin on the lintel. The church has no visitors, it is deserted and quiet . But just down the road, there is certainly one of the most famous beaches of Evia , the vaunted Hiliadou beach.

Oh well … Modern visitors of the beach – the ones that made the place famous – not ever come here to find any monument. Neither they know whence the name “Hiliadou” came.

Adventurers came here of course, since old times, searching for treasures in the old monastery, under the floor of the temple).

And today?

Um, today seems like neither the shepherds do not know the church.
 

The thousandth


 
Where am I ?
 
Hiliadou is located on the eastern coast of central Evia. The best way to come here is by car, following the main road from Halkida through Steni and Stropones villages.

 

 



  


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