Monastery Hiliandariou

Founded: 10th century
Founder: Georgios Helandaris
Feast-day: 21th of November
Library: 809 manuscripts
Collection: Papers of the Greek Revolution of 1821

The Monastery Hiliandariou is found more west than all the other Abbeys on the NE side of the peninsula, at a distance of half an hour from the coast, through a road surrounded with rich alternations of very old flora and buildings. The small half- ruined castle abbey of Saint Vassilios, which is built right on the shore, is the first clearly poetic picture you see on this route.

Its name probably came from the monk Georgio Helandari. In 982 it seems he preferred to live near the coast so he granted his field to the Ivirites. The building of his new installation is considered to be the initial core of this monastery in 1015. The name "Helandaris" emanates from the Byzantine "helandion" (sort of row- boat). Other origins for the name of Abbey have been suggested but seem mostly to have been based on fantasies.

With the mediation of "Big Middle of Karies" it was proposed that the Abbey Helandariou become independent from the Abbey of Vatopedi and from the Protos, with monks exclusively "from the Serbian gender". This was ratified with a law set by Alexios Angelou, in 1198. ' When its monastic constitution was consolidated, Savvas was elected archbishop of Serbia, and after their deaths they were both nominated Saints of the Serbian Church. Since then and for centuries after, the Abbey constituted the main intellectual hearth for Serbs, electing scholars and clergymen who all excelled in the Serbian Ecclesiastical hierarchy.

King Micheal Paleologos the 7th issued in favour of the Abbey two laws(1271 and 1277) that guaranteed her possessions , while his successor, Andronikos Paleologos, proceeded in concessions and regulations in favour of the Abbey with roughly 33 confirmed statements. Around 1293, with the subsidy of Stefanos Ouresi Miloutin, the new catholic and guest quarters were built. In 1302 he also built the tower with the chapel "Despite the tarsana'".

In the beginning of 14th century the Katalanonians tried many times to siege the Abbey according to the narration of the abbot Daniel, but because it was well protected from its enclosure walls, it did not give in to their persistance. The Byzantine kings and obviously the Serb souvereigns, supported the Abbey during this century - eg Stefanos Dusan -who also continued strengthening it into the first half of the 15th century.

During the period of the Ottoman domination, the souvereigns of the lower Dounavian countries aided the Monastery,such as Neagoe Basarab (1512-1521), who ensured in favour of the monastery an annual subsidy. By the 17th century the Abbey was in a position to complete a lot of necessary work: eg renovation of a wing (1610), the wallpainting of the dining area (1622),the catholic (1632,.1633, 1635), the renovation and reconstruction of the cells in the eastern wing (despite the temple) (1640, 1649), etc. The library of the Abbey,built during the middle of this century, is considered to be one of the most important Slavian libraries.

In the 18th century, after the fire of 1722 in which 1/2 of the building volume was destroyed, the Abbey devolved to a situation of poverty.

It is reported that during the 17th, 18th and near the 19th century, the majority of monks in this monastery were not Serbs.

Their numerical supremacy began to be restored progressively from the middle of the 19th century. Exceptionally difficult for the Abbey was the period of the Greek Revolution (1821), and because of the misfortunate conditions, it was almost abandoned. ' When the monks began to come back' they began the work of reconstruction and renovation of the buildings.