Monastery of Osios Loukas

Location: Distomo   

The Monastery of Osios Loukas in Distomo, Arachova: The Monastery of Osios Loukas is an 11th century monastery located in the area of Distomo, about 30 km from Arachova. This monastery is the epitomy of the Byzantine architecture while it is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Within the monastery complex, visitors will come across the Church of Theotokos (Virgin Mary), the only church in Greece that is certain to have been built in the 10th century. The architectural design of the church follows the typical Byzantine architecture of "cross-in square" type and the walls have been built out of a mixture of bricks, marble and stone. On the walls, there are strange designs which resemble a lot like cursive Arabic script writing.

Interestingly, the Church of Theotokos adjoins another large cathedral, the Katholikon, built in 1011-12. This cathedral is the only surviving structure to have eight pillars surrounding the central dome. These eight pillars are transformed into four arches to support this central dome. Around the main centre of this church, there are galleries and chapels on all four sides.

The exterior wall of this church displays the glorious image of Joshua dressed in armor like a soldier of faith. There was a prophesy connected to that monastery, that Saint Lucas had foreseen the conquest of Crete by a Byzantine emperor. So, when indeed Crete was captured (959-963) by Emperor Romanos II, the pilgrims painted this fresco to honor Saint Lucas.

It is believed that the monastery was famous and rich in its time. It derived its wealth mostly because pilgrims would come to pay homage to the tomb of Saint Lucas, which exuded myron (a nice smell) and could work miracles. A few decades later, the bones of Saint Lucas were transferred to Rome.

The churches of the monastery include valuable relics, altar cloths, gold and silver plates, beautiful frescoes and mosaics. Of course, time and conquerors have damaged many of them, but they are still representative of the Byzantine church architecture.

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