In line with our article on the major Athens churches worth exploring while visiting the Greek capital, we have gathered the top Athens monasteries that should make it to your must-see list. Even if you are just staying for a few days, be sure to squeeze them in your busy schedule. They will not disappoint you. On the contrary, they will inspire and fuel your interest in religious tourism.
Petraki Monastery is also known as the Monastery of the Holy Incorporeal Taxiarchs. Located in the central region of Ambelokipi in Athens, this monastery dates back to the Byzantine era. Although it was built in the 10th century, its current name reflects a major renovation that it underwent back in 1673, by Parthenios Petrakis. Inside, you will have the chance to admire icons from the talented hagiographer from the 18th century, George Markou the Argeius.
Kaisariani Monastery is located on Mount Hymettus in Athens and is a fine example of Eastern Orthodox Athens monasteries. Again, the most likely date of establishment for this exceptional structure is somewhere in 1100 AD. There are impressive frescoes to admire, especially that on the external southern wall with Virgin Mary praying. The area consists of the catholicon, the bathhouse and the cells of the monks.
The Monastery of Koimiseos Theotokou Pentelis is one of the largest Athens monasteries and one of the most remarkable, too. After the discovery of a miraculous icon of Virgin Mary, pilgrims built the monastery on the very same place in Penteli back in 1570. Upon reaching the site, you will find the catholicon and the nursing home, a library with findings from Kryfo Scholeio (the educational system that flourished in secrecy during the Ottoman occupation) and of course the Interorthodox Center of the Church of Greece.
Moving forward with Athens monasteries you should definitely visit, we head to the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Kynigos. This is also found on Mount Hymettus like Kaisariani Monastery, dating back to the 12th century. In its current form, it serves as a cenobic monastery and it is impressive to watch. The absolute tranquility and the peaceful surroundings provide the perfect environment for pilgrims to cherish.
The Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos is found a little further, again on Mount Hymettus. Although in the past the area was 100% secluded, today there are few houses in short distance. So this monastery is easily accessible and has become a lot popular over the years. There is no hard evidence in writing as to its background, but it most probably dates back to the 16th century.
The Monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos is yet again situated on Mount Hymettus. White walls, red tiles and a spacious courtyard compose a lovely monastery for women in the heart of Athens. It dates back to the 16th century and is a basilica with impressive frescoes. What is strange about the monastery is that it actually features a second church, devoted to Taxiarchs.
Asteriou Monastery is otherwise known as the Monastery of Taxiarchs in the same area. According to one interpretation of its name, the monastery reflects Saint Lucas of Styra. The main material used for the construction of the monastery is limestone, providing an exquisite architectural outcome. It is estimated at approximately the 10th century. On site, in the past there used to be the school of Diodorus the Philosopher. So this is definitely an inspiring landscape.
Dafni Monastery is another great place to visit, particularly if you are looking for an evergreen oasis right outside the center of Athens. On the edge of the parkland in Chaidari, the monastery has been built on the ancient temple of Apollo Dafnaios. It is Catholic style monastery dating back to the 11th century, with various renovations over the years. Even though it has been abandoned by the monks over a century ago and later served as public mental hospital, the historical value and significance of this monastery is indisputable. After all, it has been featured in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Finally, we conclude our list of the major Athens monasteries to visit with The Monastery of Agios Efraim. This is located in Nea Makri, so typically within the region of Attica. It is else known as the Monastery of the Annunciation of Virgin Mary on Mount Amomon. Again, this building belongs to the 10th century and gathers pilgrimage from all over Greece and the world.The monastery has been strongly correlated with Agios Efraim, a young man who found shelter there and wanted to become a monk in early 15th century, but actually became a martyr. A wonderful place of worship and spirituality, for sure!