Monastery of Evangelistria - Holy Cenobitic Monastery of
the Annunciation

The commanding Monastery of Evangelistria (or Vagelistra,
as locals call it) can be found on the northeast of the island,
under Karaflitzanaka, the summit of Skiathos. It is built on an
altitude of about 200 meters, in the area “Agalianoi”, on the
top of the creek of Lechouni, 5 km of the town of Skiathos.
Among the oldest Monasteries of Greece, it is the only
“active” monastery of Skiathos.

All Monasteries of Skiathos were built on private initiative
to accommodate the needs of the few. The Monastery of
Evangelistria was a result of collective initiative of people with
specific building standards and a building plan to meet the
needs of a big number of people (there have been references
to 70). Evangelistria was built by Kollyvades monks of the
Holy Mount Athos. It was a rigorous Monastery that banned
entrance to women and followed all the strict regulations of
the Holy Mount.
Monastery of Evangelistria - Holy Cenobitic Monastery of the Annunciation

The sanctity of the monks and the holy lives they led had an impact not only on the religious tradition of the island but also on the lives of all its residents.

Overall, the look of the Monastery is simple and austere. Excessive decoration is avoided and the shape and form that each single element takes comes from the structural needs. The land of the Monastery is also home to two chapels (Agios Dimitrios and Agios Ioannis Prodromos - “John the Forerunner”), while a third chapel is 300 meters southeast of its courtyard: it is the cemetery chapel of the Monastery, (old church of) Panagia Zoodoxos Pigi (Life-giving Font of the Mother of God). The oil press of the Monastery is of significance as well: it is on the north side and takes up a lot of space to showcase the particular tools and structures required to produce oil, since the entire territory of the Monastery is essentially a huge olive grove.

Taking into account the proper layout and organisation of the Monastery’s sites and the precise measurements taken, it cannot be ruled out that, apart from the great craftsmen (for which we have no information), there could have also been an architect who performed surveys and provided guidelines for the construction. maybe even the founder of the Monastery himself, the experienced and vigorous hieromonk Nephon. The chimney is particularly interesting as it’s one of the few constructions of that type still standing today. its structure is impeccable and in great working condition.

Of the structures there today, most are among the ones initially constructed apart from the west wing which was destroyed in a fire in 1872. It is established that building of Evangelistria started in 1794 and finished in 1806.

The religious architecture of Mount Athos is evident from the Monastery’s individual morphologic elements -common in churches of mainland Greece- which create a perfect whole. The support of the dome is based on the system used in mosques and other public structures of Constantinople and Asia Minor since the 15th century, modelled after Hagia Sophia. Despite the influences of its era (baroque and rococo), the shapes and form of the altarpiece stay within traditional norms. Its creation by skilled craftsmen must have been careful and meticulous. The chancel was decorated a year after the Greek Revolution of 1821 by iconographers of Chalkidiki who sought refuge from the repercussions of the revolution in the Sporades islands.

The Monastery of Evangelistria was the base of the revolutionary moulding for all battles of the time, considering it greatly aided from a moral but also a material point of view the pre-revolutionary movements as well as the Revolution of 1821 itself. It was there that, in 1807, the first Greek Flag -with the white Cross in a sky-blue background- was designed, created, blessed and raised for the first time.

The Library and the Folklore Museum of the Monastery of Evangelistria boasts exhibits and sacred relics. a truly great sacred treasure. Most of these were donated by Admiral Lazaros Kountouriotis in 1823 in recognition of the great contribution of the Monastery in the liberation of the Greek nation.

The Monastery is full of people for every service, particularly during the Holy Week and Easter, when the resurrection of Christ takes place with the Holy Fire from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which arrives from Jerusalem a few hours before via a special aircraft at the expense of shipowner, Andreas Potamianos. Many visit the Monastery as well on the 15th of August, day of Dormition of the Mother of God, when the atmosphere is uniquely vibrating with piety and veneration under the touching melody of the Lamentations of Panagia sung in one voice by everyone, a custom very rarely kept anywhere else in Greece. Its rich spiritual, missionary, social and philanthropic work together with its warm hospitality for every visitor, have made the Monastery of Evangelistria a safe harbour of inner peace, a tranquil oasis that refreshes and uplifts in the middle of our restless world.