The Monastry of Hosios Loukas Ὅσιος Λουκᾶς is one of the most famous Byzantine buildings of Greece, located on one of the most scenic slopes of Mount Helicon on the Greek mainland. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Hosios Loukas was founded by and named after the hermit monk “Venerable Luke”, not Saint Luke.
What’s so special about Hosios Loukas?
The most ancient part of Hosios Loukas is the Church of the Theotokos. It is the only church to have been built on mainland Greece in the tenth century.
The body of the founder, Venerable Luke, is still housed in the monastery and you can visit the burial crypt. Many of the frescoes in the crypt still survived, and many of them date from the eleventh century.
Also, Hosios Loukas was known in the Byzantine Empire for being the most ornate and beautiful monastery. Although much of the mosaics and icons have not survived, still “a lot” remains – so you can actually imagine the opulence of the site a thousand years ago.
Last but not least, you need to see the 11th century fresco of an old testament figure called “Jesus of Navi“. The fresco was covered up in marble and was only discovered in 1965. This goes to prove the “katholikon” (cathedral) stands on an earlier church dedicated to Saint Barbara.
You need to experience the peace and serenity in Hosios Loukas
Stepping into Hosios Loukas is like stepping back in time a thousand years. The compound, surrounding by pure nature, exudes such a calm and beauty that brings immediate peace to the visitor.
You also shouldn’t miss the flow of stream water that is channeled throughout the compound, it is extremely refreshing and clear, and perfectly potable.
Hosios Loukas is still a living monastery, so tourists are expected to remain respectful and silent. You can buy retsina wine and other products produced at the monastery. Also, unlike Roman catholic churches in western Europe, Greek Orthodox churches are very conservative. Men are expected to wear full-length trousers and women full-length skirts or dresses, both genders with their shoulders covered.
It is both a place of pilgrimage and tourism for locals and foreigners, so it’s best that you arrive early in the morning.
How to get to the Monastery of Hosios Loukas Ὅσιος Λουκᾶς?
Set your GPS to the village of Distomo and you will not miss the signs all along the way.