Kaisariani Monastery – Nature and faith
It is not just pilgrims heading uphill to the 11th-century Monastery of Kaisariani. The beauty of the monastery and the grounds, nestled on the green slopes of Mt. Ymittos, is reason enough to drive the ascending road that leads to it. Ilissos, one of the two ancient rivers of Athens, has its source here, on a hill above the stone-built monastery that stands on the ruins of two ancient temples, one Roman and one Greek. Four columns of the ancient temple now support the dome of the church.
The Kaisariani Monastery was not only a religious, but also a spiritual centre with a renowned library of relics from ancient libraries. During the siege of Athens by the Turks, any remaining manuscripts were taken to the Acropolis to be used in igniting the weapons of the time.
The spring, on the eastern wall of the enclosure, spouts fresh spring water from the mouth of a marble ram. Even today, people take water from the source, which, since antiquity, has been said to have healing properties. Visit the monastery and relax in the cool courtyard or stroll along one of the beautiful mountain trekking trails.
Overlooking the Kaisariani district from a hill a short distance from Hymettus, the Kaisariani Monastery stands some 350 metres high. Theories abound about the origins of its name (perhaps related to the word Syrian), but this question is unresolved. The Monastery is dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary.
Believed to date back to the late 11th century, the four-column, cruciform church has been expanded – with its Chapel of St. Antony and narthex added under Ottoman occupation. The monastery also includes baths from the Byzantine era and preserved frescoes from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Just to the north of the monastery lies the Kalopoula, an ancient natural spring; Kriokephali and Agiasma are also nearby. As with all Greek monasteries under German occupation, this one closed down as well.