Life Style

Where Time Stops: A Lonely Monastery On An Abandoned Greek Island

Nestled around the Strofades Islands (two small Greek islands from the Ionian Islands) would be the ruins of a once-great monastery. Back in the day a fortress-monastery built almost 800 years ago in 1241. Many people consider the Greek islands for sunbathing, but there's much more to this ancient country than beaches and sun.

Greece's most remarkable and UNESCO-listed monasteries are the precariously perched monasteries at Meteora on the mainland. Many of these historic monasteries continue to be working and some are dedicated monasteries for monks, while some are nunneries. Meanwhile, the holiest site in Greek is Mount Athos which is the place to find around 2,000 monks and is a location where women (and female animals) are strictly forbidden.

What To Know Of The Strofades Islands

The two islands are Stamfani Island (the bigger island with the monastery) and the smaller and lonelier Arpyia Island.

Today the hawaiian islands are uninhabited except by many birds (including Cory's shearwater and migratory passerines and turtle doves). In other words they're almost deserted, there is reportedly just one monk living around the main island. A report in 2022 suggested the monk may have died and it is unclear if you will find any monks on the island.

  • Islands: Stamfani (Larger One Using the Monastery) & Arpia Island
  • Population: Reportedly Just one Monk
  • Known For: The Fortress Monastery, The Migrationary Birds, The Stunning Cedar Trees
  • Migratory Birds: The Islands provide Migratory Birds Including Turtledoves, Cuckoos, Hoopoes, Swallows

Both of those small islands are flat using the highest hill only rising 20 meters (60 feet) above sea level. The islands are sandless and rocky with sparse vegetation with cedar trees.

While most folks attracted to the Strofades islands are taken in through the remarkable fortress-monastery on them, they are known for more. The islands are thought national Greek monuments for his or her rich vegetation, stunning cedar trees, and lots of bird species.

The Monastery and Monastic History Of The Islands

The past was very different for these small isolated islands. In times passed by, they were some of the most fertile islands in Greece boasting orchards that produced bounties of food that fed more than one hundred monks who used to live there. A few of these fruit trees can nonetheless be found on the island.

  • Built: In 1241
  • Fortified: The Monastery Was Fortified To Protect Against Pirates

The monastery was built around 1200 at the request of Princess Irene, daughter from the Nicea Emperor who, thanks to those islands, survived a shipwreck.

The monastery was fortified to protect it against the frequent pirate raids on the isolated isle.

The monastery's notable monk was Saint Dionysios who was buried on the island. He is the patron saint of Zakynthos – the island towards the north. But his remains were taken off the island towards the island of Zakynthos following a brutal pirate attack on the monastery.

In recent years the monastery continues to be damaged by earthquakes that have rocked the location. The monastery holds the scars of numerous many years of seismic activity and damaging pirate raids.

The End Of the Way of Life And Glimpse Into The Past

The monk was Father Grigoris who lived on the area for an impressive 38 years. The majority of that time he was completely alone on the island.

An American photographer called Robert McCabe along with a Greek journalist Katerina Lymberopoulou were able to go to the island and document it before its life-style was lost. They published a book called “The Last Monk of Strofades: Report from a mystery Ionian Island.”

Father Grigoris:

  • Last: The Last Monk On The Island
  • Lived: He Lived On The Island for 38 Years

In their work, they tell the way they managed to meet Father Grigoris and even find the islet's last lighthouse keeper and also the boatman who used to generate supplies. The book offers understanding of a world that has now been lost.

In their book, they also plea for the monastery to be salvaged because of its past too far for that historic monument.

Visiting Strofades Monastery

To arrive at the deserted fortress-monastery, one will need a private boat (or charter a personal boat). The island of Stamfani isn't a regular destination for tourists and thus one will have to short out getting there by oneself.

  • Getting There: By Private Boat

If one does get to the island, you will see that the fortress-like medieval monastery is the only building around the main island.

It is more hard to approach the smaller island, Arpyia, because of the shallow waters surrounding it.

While dealing with the area might not be easy, the solitude and ambiance from the experience are sure to be worth anyone's effort.

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