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The ruins of the Monastery of Christ near Therma

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Even though the sign says, in both Greek and English, "Holy Monastery of Christ", the monastery in fact doesn't exist anymore. Only the ruins are left, placed in a beautiful natural setting, somewhere to the East of Therma. The gravel track branches off the main North coastal road and slowly winds for almost 2 kilometers through ferns and trees before it comes to a stop. From time to time you might run into the ever present goats of the island.

The archeological site The Holy Monastery of Christ

We stopped the car 50 or so meters away from the ruins and walked the last part of the way. Here, 150 meters above sea level you can peek through the dense vegetation upon the distant panorama of the continental Greek shores and the intense blue of the Thracian Sea.

A metal fence and some tall trees hide the monument which dates from the late Byzantine period. It is believed that the monastery was built in the middle of the 14th century and, given the dense habitation traces in the area, it was most probably part of a settlement. Due to the advanced state of decay and other various hardships, in 1771 it became a metochi (dependency) of the Iviron Monastery of Mount Athos. The same thing happened to the St. Athanasius Monastery (near Alonia), the only one on the island which still functions today. In the 19th century the Monastery of Christ was abandoned. These days only the ruins of the church are preserved, together with the remains of the buildings which once formed the monastic complex - a cistern, some cells and a bakery, all surrounded by an old wall.

The church is small - about 12 meters in length and a little more than 4 meters in width. It consists of a narthex, a nave and only one apse to the east. It was built out of different materials - stone, bricks, mortar combined with some bits of ceramic tiles, but also marble pieces originating from the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. Blind arcades underlined by bricks in the upper part decorate the walls of the nave. A couple of cute mice scattered quickly up these very walls when we made our appearance.

Overall, the monument provokes some mixed feelings as it is a strange combination of Christianism and paganism. On one hand you see crosses engraved in stone, on the other the inscribed marble pieces taken from Paleopoli. And then there's the silence. A lot of silence…

Usually the monastery can be visited during the months of July and August, between 8 and 15 o'clock (the program found on the gate is from 2016 and incorrect). Anyway, to be sure about the visiting hours better call (+30) 2551 041 474 beforehand.

The road to the Monastery of Christ

The track to the Monastery of Christ

The view from the Monastery of Christ

The sign to the Monastery of Christ

The courtyard of the Monastery of Christ

The landscape from the Monastery of Christ

The walls of the church of Christ

The nartex of the church of Christ

Blind arcades at the Monastery of Christ

Little mouse on the walls of the Monastery of Christ

Dormouse at the Monastery of Christ

Christian symbol at the Monastery of Christ

Pagan inscription at the Monastery of Christ

In the yard of the Monastery of Christ

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