Stavronikita monastery

It is located in the northeastern side of Athos between the monasteries of Iviron and Pantokratoros. Built on a large steep rock with a view to Strimonikos bay, it prospered during the post-Byzantine era. Although it is the smallest monastery in Mount Athos, its fortress-like character with the defensive tower and the arched piers of the aquaduct, form an impressive architecture composition. The aquaduct was built by funding of the ruler of Wallachia, Serban Kantakouzenos (1679-1688). Its origins are placed between 10th and 11th century.

The tradition mentions its founder, someone named Nikitas or Stavronikitas Nikephoros, an official of Tsimiski, and that the sketes of Stavros and Nikitas existed nearby. However, the first report of this monastery is in a document of 1013. In the 13th century, it suffered disasters from pirate raids, was abandoned by the monastic fraternity, and in 1287, became a part of Koutloumousiou. In 1533, Gregory from the monastery of Giromeriou, bought Stavronikita from Philotheou and resurrected it.

The Catholicon of 1541, dedicated to St. Nicholaos, is very relevant to its history, when the Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremiah A contributed to its reoperation. It is the only one not to have the characteristic of the Athos church building, the side semicircular niches of the chanters’ two areas, due to lack of space. The murals, the icons from the “iconostasio” (icon‐screen) and the door panels were made in 1546. They are excellent samples of the art of Theophanis Strelitzas from Heraklion of Crete. An excellent mosaic picture of St. Nicholas the Stridas of the 16th century also exists here.

Text: Dr. Antonios G. Dikaios/ Theologian – Environmentalist.