Uncovering Evangelistria Monastery’s Revolutionary Past

On the slopes of the highest peak on Skiathos Island, you’ll find the most beautiful and arguably the most historically significant monastery of all the Northern Sporades islands. Set amid pine and cypress trees, visitors are immediately struck by the tranquility of the place.

You can get there by car or on foot. Either way it’s a lovely meander up the mountain. When entering the complex you can’t help but tread softly and conversation with companions drop to hushed, reverent whispers.

Important symbol of Greek pride

The first Greek flag with a white cross on a blue background was woven, blessed and hoisted for the first time at Evangelistria in 1807. It was on the very same flag that leaders of the revolution were sworn in and made plans to liberate the nation. Later, in the 1820s freedom fighters and refugees sought refuge here and the monastery provided material support and economic assistance to the revolutionaries.

What to look out for

Skilled craftsmen began construction in 1794 and the monastery was completed in 1806. Today, the buildings and grounds are well kept. The main church, a cruciform design covered by three high domes is in the centre of the monastery complex. It contains various wall illustrations and icons, which have both religious and artistic merit.

Monk-made wine

Pop into the little shop in which you can purchase Alypiakos wine made by the monks themselves from on site vines. Famous Greek writer, Alexander Papadiamantis wrote in his short story, “The Black Ignoramuses” that Alypiakos wine is “suitable to relieve the sadness and worries of the world” but you’ll need to try it and decide for yourself.

Entrance fees and other observances

Entrance to the complex is free but donations are appreciated. You are required to pay 2 Euro per person to enter the museum building but this is a measly sum for a worthy browse. The loom on which the first Greek flag was woven can be seen in the museum among other interesting pieces. Information is clearly marked in both English and Greek.

Also, so as not to cause offence, cover your shoulders and your legs at least to your knees. Wraps are readily available for this specific purpose and the dress code applies to both men and women.

There’s a café just above but separate to the monastery, which serves light refreshments and provides lovely views of the mountains, sea and nearby islands.

Best time to visit

Any historical and/or religious attraction is always best visited on your own or in small groups. Luckily, even in peak season, tourists never overrun Evangelistria. So you really do get to have a uniquely intimate experience. In addition to the complex being well preserved, the site of real life monks at a table in the courtyard adds to the authenticity of the place. In it’s relatively short existence, by ancient Greek monastery standards anyway, Evangelistria has witnessed human efforts to get closer to God and the Greek struggle for independence. Who knows what other secrets it harbors.