Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios
The Monasteries of Daphni, Hossios Luckas and Nea Moni of Chios are masterpieces of the 'second golden age of Byzantine art'. The three monasteries date from the 11th and 12th century. They have the same typology and aesthetic features, with marble and mosaic decorations.
They are geographically distant from each other: the monastery of Daphni is located in Attica, near Athens, the Hossios Luckas is located in Phocida near Delphi, and the Nea Moni of Chios is on the Aegean island of Chios.
John Booth - October 2015
Of the three sites, I have visited Hossios Lukas near Delphi, and Nea Moni on the island of Chios. As others have reviewed Hossios Lukas I shall attempt to describe Nea Moni:
The site is located high in the mountains in the centre of the island. Construction of the church started in the 11th centuary, although little of this remains. It was built in the Macedonian Renaissance style by Constantine IX upon his becoming emperor of Byzantium. The mosaic ceilings are a spectacular feature of the interior decoration.
The church was dedicated to Theotokos, and at its peak held 800 monks. However as a result of earthquakes, the depredations of the Genoese and then the Ottomans, and finally being sacked and looted in the War of Independance in 1822, the population has dwindled to a handfil of nuns.
Clyde - June 2014
I visited this WHS in June 2014. At first I had planned to only visit the Daphni Monastery due to its proximity to Athens' city centre. The monastery suffered from severe damage from an earthquake in 1999 and is currently being totally restored. It is accessible to visitors on Tuesdays and Fridays AM free of charge. The exterior is completely covered in scaffolding and there isn't much to see. What disappointed me most though was that a 6 lane highway is built just next to its perimeter and the noise from traffic is unavoidable. The interior is like a construction site and the only damaged mosaic worth mentioning is the one depicting Christ. The only plus side is that you get to visit up close on the scaffolding itself but that is not much of an advantage when viewing mosaics. Following my disappointing visit, I looked up Hosios Loukas. I found out that it is situated near Distomo, about 36km away from Delphi. Therefore I decided to go there before visiting Delphi and it turned out to be a very good choice indeed. The surroundings of Hosios Loukas are very pretty, overlooking a huge valley full of lined olive trees beneath Mt Helicon. The exterior itself is very well maintained and the whole monastery complex can be visited not only the church itself. However, the main highlight of my visit was definitely the church interior and crypt with splendid Byzantine mosaics and frescoes of Orthodox monks from the period of the Macedonian Renaissance.
Kiki Lazaridis - May 2009
I was born in Chios and I have been in Nea Moni and Hosios Loukas and I'm very proud to be from chios, every time i go to Nea Moni i feel a new person.
I have been once to the beautiful monastery of Hosios Luckas, a great masterpiece of the late Byzantine art, one of the three Greek monasteries forming this WHS. The hermit Saint Luke the Stiriote lived here, on the western slopes of the Helicon, isolated in a landscape of olive trees, from 946 until his death in 953, among the ruins of a temple of Demeter, and built here a church dedicated to Saint Barbara (946-955); in the 10th century an another church was built for the pilgrimages of great enduring success, visiting his tomb. Since the 14th the monastery belong to the Cistercians, that dedicated the monastery to the Virgin and maintained it as it was. It was damaged by various earthquakes and by the bombardments of the Second World War. It has a large pentagonal enclosure and extends on an east-west axis bearing traces of successive additions. The monastery has many minor buildings, like the bell tower or the monks’ cells, but the main complex is really stunning. To the north-east there is the church of Theotokos, built on that of Saint Barbara. It is very different in style from the church of Katholikon, because it was reconstructed by the Cistercians, that dedicated it to the Virgin, linked it by a porch with cross vaults to the cells, built a slender octagonal drum and decorated the interior very simply, also with the floor made of nice marble slabs. The crypt of the second primitive church, that contains the tomb of Saint Luke and is decorated with nice 11th century frescoes, is now the crypt of the successive main church of Saint Luke, built in the 11th century. This is built onto the southern wall of the narthex of the Theotokos and has a passage to its esonarthex, forming with it a beautiful block of linked buildings, completed by the heavily restored (mainly in 1943) refectory, a parallel building on the southern side. The huge central volume of the dome rests on a drum pierced with sixteen windows and is supported on three sides by bays with groin vaults and inside (where is also a women’s gallery) by penditives. The church, made of stone and terracotta, has windows under pointed arches; the bema and the apse define the cross-in-square plan of the church (inspired to Saint Sophia of Istanbul). Its complex plan is unified into a harmonious and luxurious whole by the rich decoration of great extent and coherence of mosaics (over the portal of the church of the narthex, on the three apses, on the central vault, on the penditeves of the main dome, on the secondary dome, on the right side of the presbytery), frescos (on the main dome) and marble slabs and medallions of the pavement.
I liked very much the monastery because of its architecture and its mosaics. It’s absolutely worth of visit and justifies the inscription on the WHL. It’s state of conservation is very high (apart from some ruined buildings) but its authenticity have been damaged by the war destructions of buildings (refectory, bell tower…) that have been reconstructed in some cases very well, in others in a bad modern way (cells) and in others left in state of ruin. You must pay for visiting the monastery but not all the buildings are accessible inside, only the main ones. It’s quite hard to reach it. From the highway n° 1 going from Athens to Thessalonika you have to exit at Thebes and take the road n° 3 going to Lamía and at Livadía the road n° 48 going to Delphi and the road n° 29 and at Dhistomon turn on a minor road leading to the monastery.
We have also been trying for three years to visit the monastery of Daphni but it was always closed, two times for restoration works and one for an earthquake happened not much time before, so they have been very frustrating experiences. We have only seen a view of the monastery with its beautiful church (the only standing building together with the enclosure) after climbing all around the surrounding small mounds; however I can’t count it as a visited site, but I can consider visited the WHS of the monasteries because of the trip to Hosios Luckas. It is very easy to reach the monastery because it is about 100 meters from the highway A8 going from Athens to Patras. I can also say that this highway affects the integrity of the site and its surrounding landscape.
Photo: Monastery of Hosios Luckas - Church of Katholikon, Church of Theotokos
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Full name: Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios
2007 - Name changeFrom "Monasteries of Daphni, Hossios Luckas and Nea Moni of Chios" to "Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios"
1990 - InscribedReasons for inscription
1990 - RevisionIncludes former TWHS Hosios Loukas (1985)
The site has 3 locations.
The site has 8 connections.
- Destroyed or damaged by Earthquake Daphni Monastery: It suffered severe damage by earthquakes in 1889 and 1897, and was heavily damaged by the 1999 Athens earthquake. Still being restored.
- Built in the 11th century Hosios Loukas (1011 or 1042), Nea Moni (1045)