Athens Kaisariani monastery

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Location: Kaisariani

One of the oldest monasteries in Attica is the Holy Monastery of Kaisariani. It is located on the slopes of a hill, on the northern side of Mount Hymettus, at an altitude of 350 meters. The medieval church was founded during the Byzantine times (late 11th century) and it was dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary. According to several historical sources, the monastery was built on the remains of a Roman sanctuary.

The Byzantine monastery of Kaisariani is built in the middle of a landscape full of vegetation, not far from the center of Athens.
As for the name of the monastery, there are several versions. The most prevalent ones are that it was named either after the icon of the Virgin Mary that was brought from Caesarea, after an abbot named Kaisaron who founded the monastery, or after a Caesar who renovated the church during the Byzantine years.

The main temple was built at the end of the 11th century BC. The narthex of the church and the chapel of St. Anthony, which is located next to the main church, were added during the Ottoman period. At the eastern side of the yard, one will encounter an archaic fountain which, according to the tradition, it had therapeutic treatments for female fertility.
The frescoes inside the church follow the hagiography of Mount Athos and Cretan painting and date from around 1700.
On the south side of the precinct are the post-Byzantine cells of the monks.

In the past, the monastery of Kaisariani had a library rich in material and was a center of philosophy. Indeed, prominent scholars had taught in its premises, such as George Plethon Gemistos, one of the most famous philosophers of the late Byzantine period. Also, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Gregory V, had previously remained as a monk at the monastery of Caesarianis.

The monastery, like most of Hymettus and 350 others almost all over Greece, ceased to function in 1833 following a decree of Otto's Regency, which closed all monasteries with fewer than six monks.

The monastery is surrounded by a rich forest with trees, bushes and rare plants that reflect the calm and peaceful atmosphere and boast a unique view. This forest has a large network of hiking trails and is a popular picnic excursion in Athens. Today, the monastery is not open, but it is one of the landmarks of Christianity.



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