Epirus and Thessaly Sights

Agios Nikolaos ton Filanthropinon

Published 02/14/2017

Fodor's Review

Of Nissi's several monasteries, Agios Nikolaos ton Filanthropinon has the best frescoes. The monastery was built in the 13th century by an important Byzantine family, the Filanthropinos, and a fresco in the northern exonarthex (the outer narthex) depicts five of them kneeling before St. Nikolaos (1542). Many of the frescoes are by the Kontaris brothers, who later decorated the mighty Varlaam in Meteora. Note the similarities in the bold coloring, expressiveness, realism, and Italian influence—especially in the bloody scenes of martyrdom. Folk tradition says the corner crypts in the south chapel were the meeting places of the secret school of Hellenic culture during the Ottoman occupation. A most unusual fresco here of seven sages of antiquity, including Solon, Aristotle, and Plutarch, gives credence to this story. It is not really feasible, however, that the school would have been kept a secret from the Ottoman governors for long; more likely, the reigning Turkish pasha was one who allowed religious and cultural freedom (as long as the taxes were paid).

Sight Information


On Nissi island, follow signs, Ioannina, Epirus, 45221, Greece

Sight Details:

  • Donations accepted

Published 02/14/2017


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