The Monastery of Holy Cross

The monastery is located in the central eastern Pindos, 60 kilometers the west of Kalampaka, next to the road ascending from Kalampaka to Kastania, over the eastern saddle of Pindos.

The Catholicon of the Holy Cross is built on a mountain slope and on the top of a dirt hill with a slight descent from east to west and is surrounded by a dense fit forest.

About a hundred meters away from this place, we find the ruins of the monastery of Saint Zone, dating probably back to 1770, to which both the church of the Holy Cross and a small church of Saint Nicholas built recently 500 meters further to the west belong. All three churches belong new to the monastery of Saint Stephen as glebes.

All three churches were destroyed in 1943 after the bombing and setting of fire of Krania by the Germans. Despite the attempt to blow it up and the wear of time, the church of the Holy Cross (the new monastery, as the locals call it, since the old one was that of Saint Zone) remains upright, thanks to the great interest and care that the residents of  the area exhibit for its maintenance and restoration.

We have very little information about the history of the monument. Most probably, its construction was completed in 1848, a date carved on the western if the three south apses. It is an extraordinary post-Byzantine church and impressive edifice of great architectural value. The excellent sound quality, which is achieved through built-in pitchers on the inside of the masonry, is typical of its rare architectural art.

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The entire church is built with stone, with slates on the roof and the floor. Its walls are not plastered on the inside and that is the reason why there are no wall-paintings at all. On the ceiling there are decorative cupolas or little vaults, the roof is a four-slopped on and the windows are small and cruciform with iron bars.

What makes the church distinguish is its many cupolas, which give it a real Byzantine magnificence. Today there are twelve cupolas: three of them are found in the middle aisle and are visible from the inside while the other nine are decorative, not visible from the inside and set in the three niches of the north and south sides of the main church.

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It is also worth mentioning the architectural decoration of the church, which is made up of thin pilasters, blind covings and inlaid stone sculptures of folk style. The old woodcut chancel screen was destroyed by fire set by the Germans in October 1943. The woodcut screen we see today dates back to 1985 and is made up of eight zones of rich plant decoration.

In the church yard there are stones and ruins of walls which prove the existence of other auxiliary buildings. It celebrates twice a year: on September 14 (the Exaltation of the Holy Cross) and on August 31 (the Presentation of Saint Zone).

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