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In the frontier area of the Prefecture of Thesprotia, eight kilometres north-east of Filiates, near the Greek - Albanian border, the Holy Monastery of Giromeri is situated, built at an altitude of three hundred metres, on the west slopes of the rocky mountain range of Farmakovouni.
As far as the name of the Monastery is concerned, there have been many opinions and its name has changed many times up to now. We encounter the following variations:
Ieromeriou, from the words "iero"(holy) and "meros"(place) Gyromeriou, from the words "gyro" (around) and "meros" (place) Geromeriou, from the words "gero" (solid) or "iero" (holy) again and "meros" (place) Giromeriou or Giromiriou, from the words "gireo" (old) and "meros" (place).
For many years and to our days the name of the Iera Moni Giromeriou has prevailed.The Monastery of Giromeri was founded in the beginning of the 14th century (between 1310 and 1320), at a time of prosperity of the Despotato (Kingdom) of Ipiros. It constituted an important monastic centre and was in its prime in the middle of the 16th century, when it numbered approximately 300 monks, according to Theodosios Zygomalas.
Since its foundation, the Monastery had belonged to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as a Patriarchal one and later (18th century) as the Chair of the Patriarchal Exarchate of Giromeri. Twelve villages of the district and Filiates were within its jurisdiction.
In 1800, the Monastery became the Chair of the Diocese of Giromeri having the same area within its jurisdiction, belonging to the Metropolis of Ioannina. Since then and until 1895 when it was finally abolished it had several alternations, being either the Chair of Diocese or one of Exarchate. In 1928 according to a Patriarchal decision it was granted to the Autocephalus (independent) Church of Greece and today it belongs to the Holy Metropolis of Paramythia, Filiates, Giromeri and Parga.
Finally, the importance of the Monastery to the area of Thesprotia has been great during its long lasting history as it has contributed to the conservation of the inhabitants' national and religious conscience. It was significant that a Secret School and a Religious Seminary were in operation on the premises of the Monastery, during the Turkish occupation. Moreover, after some Exarchs' actions and with expenses covered by the Monastery, schools operated in some of the villages in the area.
This monastery was founded in the 14th century, while the murals of the catholicon (= main church of the monastery) were created in 1679.
The Katholikon, namely the central church of the Monastery was gradually
built. It is a church of small dimensions and is constructed of four cross-shaped
columns with a domed roof. Possibly, it was at first a single-nave church, while
its present form, namely the four parts of it, is a result of renovations at different
Chronologically talking, we only know about the construction of the Main Church, which was in 1568 after a donation from the Sovereign of Hungrovlachia (Hungary-Romania), Oxiotis of Pogoniani. The external Narthex, is considered to be constructed at the same time, while the Nave and the internal Narthex are earlier constructions, parts of the first church, possibly from the 14th century. Externally, it is ornamented with plain ceramic designs mainly on the dome and on the southern and western sides. Internally, it is of great interest as it is decorated with hagiographic ornamentation from the 16th century.
The second layer of the frescos (1679) is of popular style of that age, while the first one (1568-1590) is of Byzantine technique and has the unique particular characteristic - among the monuments of Ipiros - to combine the Western Europe Art with that of the Cretan School and the School of Western Greece. Unfortunately, the inspired artist is unknown. The Templo (rood screen) of the Katholikon is worth mentioning, a wooden sculpture constructed in 1824 and gold plated in 1829.
The icons of the temple were made in 1824 and are works of Dimitrios Papadiamantis from Zagori. The icon of Blessed Virgin Mary Odigitria is set in a separate wooden sculptured icon stand, which was constructed at the same time as the temple. It is the oldest icon in the Monastery made between the 12th and the 14th century. It is a two-side icon, which depicts Holy Virgin Mary of the type Odigitria named OPHXHOTICCA (Orihiotissa), on one side, whereas, on the other side, are the most eminent Apostles Peter and Paul.
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