THE METSOVO AREA/CHRISTIAN MONUMENTS
- Monastery of St. Nicholas:
A little after Metsovo, to the left of the road heading towards Anilio, is a 300 meter footpath that leads to the monastery of St. Nicholas. Built on the banks of the Metsovitikos River, a tributary of the Arachthos River, it is said to have been founded in the 14th century and renovated in 1700. The 16th and 17th century frescoes were restored in 1960. There is a rare portrayal of the Breast Feeding Virgin on the eastern wall of the outer narthex, painted by the painter Efstathios in 1702. Approximately 50 icons created by the famed hagiographer Theodore Poulakis were found in the women's section of the nave. The last maintenance which took place in 1985 uncovered gold spun robes, 18th century books, manuscripts containing Byzantine music and 3 18th century canvasses, two of which are holy sheets belonging to the monastery which were painted on by one of the monks. A huge barrel in the cellar is the only reminder of the monasterys wine producing activity which stopped at the beginning of the 20th century. Bein an intellectual center, it also funded the Metsovo school (source: a document dated 1650). In 1800 the eastern section of the front part of the nave was converted into a smaller church dedicated to St. Nicholas of Metsovo and here the secular artist Dionysus Maressos painted the settlement of Metsovo. The British excursionist Lick reports that this monastery and that of the Virgin Monastery were rest stops for travelers heading from Ioannina from Kalabaka, through Zygou and vice versa.
* architecture, monastery, hagiography, economy, school
- The Holy Church of St. Paraskevi:
In the center of the Metsovo square lies a simple church of a markedly secular character which was the church of an older monastery as the cells in the courtyard demonstrate. It is over five centuries old. According to the inscription, it was renovated in 1511 and is dedicated to St. Paraskevi. The worshipping nature of this monument is demonstrated by the 1885 bell tower, which was donated by George Averoff. The chancel screen which was created in 1730 is uniquely crafted from walnut wood with scenes from the Old and New Testament by wood crafters from Metosovo. One of the latter, Stergios Petris, is the creator of the larger of the two pulpits, which is a masterpiece of its kind.
The scenes along the upper part of the chancel screen are the work of hagiographers of the Meteora School (18th century) and continue from the bottom part which contains work of the Russian school, sent by the Metosovites who were successful in Czarist Russia at the time.
The Saints day is celebrated with glory. On the day of the her name day, 26 July, following the liturgy, 400 women dressed in traditional costumes dance in front of the church, while the men engage in a "horse race" that terminates at the entrance to the church after circling the town. The winner receives a cash award. The well known swinging takes place in the afternoon, when old and young alike swing on swings before they join the festivities in the central square.
* architecture, church, hagiography, wood carving, festival, customs
- The Holy Church of St. George:
To the northeast of the village, in the beautiful Averoff garden with the fragrant bass wood at the beginning of summer, looms the dome of the basilica of the church of St. George. The chancel screen and high altar are all wood carved and bear witness to the skill of the 19th century woodcrafters. The icons which date back to 1709 are also stunning. As this church is connected to the history of the Averoff family, it owes its first restoration in 1850 to George Averoff and the last one, in 2002, to John Averoff, the president of the Egnatia Epirus foundation. There was also an interim restoration in 1964 funded by the Baron Michael Tositsas Foundation.
- Holy Church of St. Dimitrios:
This is one of the oldest and most quaint churches in Metsovo which was damaged several times by earth quakes and, according to an inscription, was rebuilt in 1818 following an edict issued by Ali Pasha.
The pulpit and the womens section were painted in 1743 and 1748 respectively by the great Metsovite hagiographer Stergios Papagiannis. The current wood carved chancel screen is the work of John Gionis. The icons of Jesus Christ and the Theotokos Virgin by Metsovite artist George Chrysoloras are excellent.
Gold and silver vessels of very high artistic value, two epitaphi [a large embroidered cloth used during the services of Good Friday] embroidered with gold threads, silver wedding crowns and other relics constitute the small treasure of this modest church.
- Holy Church of St. Charalambos:
A three domed basilica which was renovated, according to the inscription, in 1834 by I. Tsanakas. It has three multi-faceted arches within the internal alcove of the nave, a more recently constructed porch in the southern section and a bell tower in the western section. Great skill has been applied to the wood carved sections: the chancel screen, ciborium, high altar and the two pulpits.
The frescoes are also very interesting. St. Kosmas of Aitolia, a significant representative of Hellenic Enlightenment and martyr of the Orthodox church, taught in the courtyard of this church.