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Home 26 January 2022
Culture Archaeology Monuments Churches Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Prefecture of Rodopi Municipality of Sosto

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The monastic community of Mt. Papikio
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Macedonian Graves
Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
Municipality of Didimotihos
Municipality of Drama
Municipality of Thasos
Municipality of Maronia
Municipality of Samothraki
Municipality of Sosto
Municipality of Pheres
Municipality of Philippoi
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Aikaterinh Balla
Source: C.E.T.I.
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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Scarce remnants of a Byzantine monastery survive at the location of Kilise Dere, near the modern village of Linos, at a site overlooking the valley. An old settlement named Kiouplou, now in ruins, existed at the site of the village. The surviving Katholikon of the monastery is a three-aisled basilica with an exonathex, a narthex, a main nave and a sanctuary. The finding of marble parts from the base’s apex indicates that the church was also domed. Studies carried out on each part of the Katholikon confirm that the monument underwent several construction phases. It is a building with dimensions of 8.90 X 8.90. The superstructure rested on four pillars, although the southwestern is now destroyed. The pillars are linked together forming arches, over which rest low domical vaults surmounting the entire space. The walls and pillars were covered by strong crushed tiles that guaranteed water-tightness for the space. Most of the marble-paved floor of the whole church is still preserved. Five rectangular screens illustrate the popular theme of the “five breads”, while the rest are decorated with fire whirls and suns. Two successive layers of wall paintings were discovered in the Katholikon.
Fragmentized wall paintings with the donor mother and son were found on a piece of a brick-made arch in the narthex. A built cist grave was also uncovered near the north wall of the Katholikon, together with a gold ring bearing the inscription-seal “Maria Botaneiates”. These finds indicate that the Empress Maria Botaneiates and his son Constantine were the monastery’s donors.
An oblong, perhaps two-storey altar was found in the monastery complex along with ancillary buildings and separate structures that bear witness to the existence of organized monastic life. The cemetery of the monastery contained numerous movable artifacts (several types of glazed vessels, small iron knifes, bronze sheets casings from small wooden icons and coins). Some of the most noteworthy finds revealed during the excavations are the gold enamelled encolpion with Theotokos Praying and the lead bulla (seal) of the “critic Constantine Manoulites”. Finally, the monastery’s monumental half-underground cistern with the multi-vaulted roof is preserved almost intact.
Excavation finds show that the monastery started to operate in the mid-11th century and continued until almost the mid-14th century. Most wall paintings as well as the marble paved floor date to the 12th century, when the monastery flourished.
Apart from the numerous Byzantine monasteries and monuments located at the region of Mount Papikion, other buildings are still preserved. At the foot of Kilise Dere ravine to the west of Linos (the ruined settlement of Kiouplou) is a large-dimensioned warehouse built next to the rocks at the torrent shore and a mill consisting of three rooms is preserved to the west of the warehouse.
The three rooms of the mill had barrel-vaulted roofs. The west wall and the two transverse walls were pierced by three equal-sided holes. Above the level of these holes, water flew in a spacious, brick-made pipe. The masonry of the mill is identical to the style of the Palaeologan period. The exact age of the mill is uncertain. However, it was probably constructed when the monasticism in Mount Papikion was in decline. Yet, according to another opinion, the mill was a collective work of the whole monastic society during the period of economic instability.