Monastery of St. Nicholas Filanthropinon or Spanos
The Monastery, located on the western shore of the island, is an institution of family Filanthropinon, one of the noble families of Constantinople, who settled in Ioannina after 1204. Prominent representative of the family of Filanthropinon, Michael, priest and great steward of the diocese of Ioannina, founded (or restored radically) the monastery of St. Nicholas in 1291 – 1292. The monastery flourished in the 16th century when, on the initiative of Abbots Neophytos and mainly Ioasaf Filanthropinon, it was refurbished, expanded and frescoes were made in the katholikon. The monastery of Philanthropists hosts perhaps the most remarkable set of post-Byzantine frescoes of Epirus, work- starting point for the study of painting of the so-called School of northwestern Greece, also known as Ioannina School as well as the School of Thebes, from the place of origin of the only artists whose names are known.
Blind apartments are formed in the western part of the porch on the north from which the local tradition places the secret school. The broad agenda of the extraordinary frescoes of the Filanthropinon monastery were a pattern, pictorial index for many later artists. Many of the performances are very original. Among them, the performances of the seven wise men of antiquity (Plato, Apollonius of Tyana, Solon, Aristotle, Plutarch, Thucydides and Chilon the Lacedaemonian), in the western part of the southern outer narthex. The presence of these ancient characters, which are considered forerunners of Christianity, is an element rare in the Byzantine and post-Byzantine art that reveals the breadth of education and depth of theological knowledge of the inspirer of the iconographic program, probably the Ioasaf Philanthropini himself.
Panteleimon Monastery & Museum of Pre-Revolutionary period
The Monastery is located on the east coast of the island, in close distance from the Baptist monastery. As delivered from the autobiography of Apsarades, the same position was a hermitage dedicated to Saint Panteleimon from the early 16th century when the monastery Prodromou was founded.
The complex of the monastery suffered several disasters over the centuries. There are two reports of destruction of the temple in the early 19th century by precipitation of rocks that rise steep in the west. Indeed, according to the English traveler W. Leake, the church was repaired with surgery of Ali Pasha, who forced an affluent Giannioti to afford the costs. The whole place is directly linked to Ali, who fled to the monastery in the last period of the siege of the troops of the sultan and eventually murdered in the cells of the monastery in January 1822. As with the Prodromou monastery in the early 20th century, the monastery was connected with the guild of shoemakers – tsarouchia – of Ioannina.
The current form of the church should be dated to the 19th century, probably after the events of 1822 and the turmoil caused by the events of the murder of Ali Pasha. Besides the church, within the precincts of the monastery two buildings of cells are retained, newly restored. The northern cell that functioned as an abbey, houses the collection of incunabula and manuscripts of the monasteries of the island. The southern cell, the passageway that connects the monastery to the neighboring monastery of Prodromos, is the place where Ali Pasha was assassinated and now houses a museum of the revolutionary period.
Monastery of St. John the Baptist
The Monastery is located on the east side of the island just a short distance from the village. Historical data for the foundation come from the autobiography of brothers Theophanes and Nektarios Apsaras, who came from a mainland noble family, whose members held important offices in the city of Ioannina since the Byzantine era. There is no information on the history of the monastery of St. John after its establishment. But it is known that at least since the late 18th century it was associated with the guild of oinopolon (Krasopoulon), which contributed to the painting of the Catholic in 1789, and to the repair of the wallpainting after the disasters the monastery suffered by the sultan’s troops in 1821 -1822. This work, carried out in two phases, in 1824 and 1891 contributed the guild of chanitzidon, also connected with the monastery.
The monastery was built in contact with a steep cliff where there was a cave-hermitage of the first monks. The interior of the church is full of wall paintings done in 1789 at the expense of the Abbot Anastasios, Vasilios Valkanos and other members of the guild of krasopoulos, as we are informed by the inscription above the western entrance.The basement cells, to the north of the church are newer and newly reconditioned.
Monastery of Diliou or Strategopoulos
The Monastery is located on the west side of the island, in a short distance from the monastery Philanthropists. Little is known about the history of the institution. It is however very likely founded in the 13th century by the family members of Stratigopoulou, as evidenced by its name.
The Strategopouloi, like Philanthropinoi was one of the noble families from Constantinople who settled in Ioannina after 1204 and has since taken an active and prominent role in the city’s administration. During the Turkish occupation, the monastery was connected with the family Diliou, as evidenced by its name. The construction of the ledger should be dated to the late 13th century and is decorated with elegant frescoes, which were recorded in 1542/3, at the expense of “Blessed Niphon and Sophronius” according to the inscription on the southern wall of the narthex.
The iconographic program of the church follows, in general, the established patterns, with full-length saints in the lower zone and scenes from the Life of Christ and the Virgin in the higher zones. It is worthy to note the presence of exergon plaster medals with the figure of Christ on the chest of whole body saints, similar to those found in the monastery Philanthropinon.
However, the theme covering the conch of the apse of the sanctuary, which illustrated the vision of the prophets Ezekiel and Avakoum causes surprise. The two prophets are depicted staring Christ in awe, appearing in glory in the form of the Great Angel House, surrounded by heavenly powers and of the apocalyptic symbols of the four evangelists. In the cathedral there is a remarkable wooden temple, work made in Epirus’ workshops in the end of the 18th -19th century.
Monastery of Panagia Eleousa
In a short distance from the Monateries of Philanthropinon and Diliou, on the west side of the island lies the building complex of the monastery of Merciful Mary. And this monastery was originally dedicated to St. Nicholas, known as the method aton Monastery or Gkioymaton because of the Ioannina’s family name known in the period of Turkish rule. The change of the dedication of the monastery was due to the transfer of the miraculous icon of Panagia Eleousa, which originally was housed in the monastery of Agia Paraskevi, in Ioannina. When converting the monastery into a mosque, the picture disappeared, to be found in 1584 by the nun Parthenia, who transferred it to the monastery of St. Nicholas on the Island. Historical data for the establishment and the first session of the monastery have not been saved. It seems, however, that it had been founded before the mid-16th century, as indicated by tradition relatively to the transfer of the icon, as well as the dating of the initial phase of the catholic and its murals. The monastery has an extraordinary icon collection.Among them stands the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary Eleousas, dating around 1500, which is preserved with its silver casing, work of silversmith Kalarrytinou Diamanti. Besides the church, inside the tall stone courtyard there is a cluster of cells, nowadays restored. In this space the ecclesiastical Museum of the Metropolis of Ioannina will be hosted, where and the icons from the other monasteries of the island will be displayed.