Monastery of Olympiotissa at Elassona

It is the most important monastery in the Prefecture of Larissa and one of the oldest Byzantine monuments that have been preserved in Thessaly. It is situated on a hill bordered by Elassonitis and Kouradiaris torrents on the spot of the Acropolis of ancient Olossona and overlooks the town of Elassona.

Emperors Constantine and Theodoros (1289-1302) founded it towards the close of the 13th century in the reign of emperor Andronikos II Paleologos.

At first, the monastery was dedicated to the Transfiguration but later on it was renamed monastery of the Assumption and monastery of the Virgin Olympiotissa when the monks that had abandoned the monastery of the Assumption at Karia (Monastery of Kanalon) took the small icon of Virgin Mary there.

It is worthwhile emphasizing the ceramic decoration outside the quadrilateral apse of the sanctuary and the brick dome of multiple levels as well as the successive arched and jagged fascias. The architectural style of the monastery of the Virgin Olympiotissa as well as its wall-paintings are representative of the best works of the Paleologian era.

The monastery flourished and made a large landed property that the 1336 imperial decree issued by emperor Andronikos III Paleologos secured and exempted it from duty. Moreover, the monastery promoted culture and also had a large library with rare manuscripts and books. The icon screen and the bishop’s throne constitute masterpieces of woodcarving. There is also a Natural History Museum where a large collection of ostracea is exhibited.

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