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Skafidia Convent

COUNTY: Elis MUNICIPALITY: Pyrgos

Clouds
29.65ºC

Type

Monastery

TL;DR

A 10th century convent which contains the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary.

Skafidia convent is only 10km from Pyrgos located at the estuaries of Iardanos river in Skafidia village. It celebrates on August 15th. Pontikokastro, ancient Pheia and Katakolo harbor are near the convent. It was built in the 10th century and initially it was the parish church of Skafidia village. The name, according to a legend, comes from the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary found floating in the sea inside a skafidi (kneading-trough). The believer, who found it, constructed this small church in honor of the Virgin Mary which then became a three-ailed church and later the catholicon of the convent. Another legend has it, that the name comes from the excellent quality kneading-troughs (skafidia) manufactured in the area. The convent has a small museum where manuscripts, icons, old documents, weapons from the Greek War of Independence of 1821 are displayed. Recently, new edifices were built on the north of the square-plan convent. In 1887, the catholicon was converted to a single-ailed basilica with three arched gates and a narthex. The authentic frescoes are preserved only in the interior alcove of the sanctuary and of the narthex, whereas the iconostasis is a more recent work made of stone. An important detail is that all the eyes of the saints in the frescoes were gauged out by the Turks as an act of vandalism.

The chapel of Agios Charalambos is southeast, whereas the dwellings of the nuns, the museum and the spring are south. The fortress of western style is unique in its kind.

The convent, which was a monastery then, played an important historic role in the region. It was destroyed by the Ottomans. Most of the monks found refuge to Zante taking with them every valuable item of the convent including the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary. From 1685 until 1715 the convent was under protection by the Venetians on condition that a candle was to be sent to Venice as a token of submission. In 1723 it was restored after its second destruction by the Turks. In 1770 was burned by the Turk-Albanians. In 1826 it became the battle theater between the Greeks and the Turks and later it was abandoned. It was inhabited again after the independence of the region, but in 1886 suffered great damages by an earthquake. It was restored, but in 1944 the Germans blew up the small church of Agioi Anargyroi. In the end of 1970 it became a convent.