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Holy Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapavsa

Going uphill from Kastraki and leaving behind the last houses of the village, we meet on our left the Holy Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapavsa. The monastery is built on a small rock that resulted in the construction of the monastery in a vertical design, specifically on three levels. We don't have a lot of information about the specific Monastery as to when ascetics were first settled, but according to frescoes found in the chapel of Agios Antonios and dating from the 14th century AD, the ascetic life must have started at the beginning of this century. The Monastery was renovated at the beginning of the 16th century AD by Saint Dionysios, Metropolitan of Larissa and by Hieromonk Nikanoras, and it functioned continuously until around 1900, when it was finally abandoned. In the 1960s the monastery was restored by the Archaeological Service and was inhabited until the 1980s by Father Palamas. Since the flight of Father Palamas and for the next 20 years, the monastery remained closed and opened its gates purely for tourist purposes by the priests of the area. In 1997, the monastery began to function normally until today.

On the 1st floor of the Monastery is the chapel of Agios Antonios, of particular importance since the oldest remains of frescoes were found there. On the same level we find a crypt which kept valuable objects and manuscripts of the Monastery which have been transferred to the Holy Monastery of Agios Stefanos during the period when the Monastery remained closed. Here we also find the manor which is a reception area and got its name because in this particular place the monks welcomed people like lords. The 2nd floor is completely covered by the catholicon of the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos, in which the visitor can admire frescoes of unique beauty. The catholicon of the monastery, with its strange shape due to the strange peculiarity of the rock it was built on, was painted by the famous Cretan painter Theofanis Strelitzas and is the oldest known work of this great artist. The painter is considered to have lived in the Monastery at that time in the capacity of a monk and not simply as its icon painter. On the 3rd floor is the old bank of the Monastery also decorated with works by Strelitza, the bank has been completely renovated and is used as an official reception area. Here you will find the old ossuary of the monastery as well as the chapel of Agios Ioannis Prodromos. It is not known where the monastery got the name Anapausas, with the prevailing theory being that the name comes from its position, a position that offers rest and peace to its visitor.

Access to the monastery is via an ascending path that starts from the parking area. Then the final access is provided by steps built into the rock which replaced the old method, the ascent by means of a windlass or the traditional net, as the great height of the rock made it particularly time-consuming.

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