LivingTravelA guide to staying in guesthouses in convents and...

A guide to staying in guesthouses in convents and monasteries in Greece

Greece has many monasteries and convents, and most of them occupy historic buildings in exquisite locations. While only a few offer overnight accommodations for guests in xenons , it is worth looking for such an overnight to add a whole new dimension to your trip to Greece.

Things to know

  • While some monasteries and convents accept visitors of all faiths, many will require the guest to be Greek Orthodox and may request a letter from a priest in their home country. The monasteries on Mount Athos accept only men and require an application to be submitted well in advance, but allow a certain number of places for non-Orthodox visitors. But even the non-Orthodox may find that connecting with a Greek Orthodox priest at a local church in their country and obtaining a letter of recommendation can make staying in a monastery in Greece much easier.
  • August is a month of vacation for urban Greeks and the celebration of Mary; Accommodation at the monastery is limited at best, but it will be even more difficult to get a place in August, around Pentecost or at Easter.
  • Some may have gender restrictions.
  • Families with children may or may not be welcome.
  • Curfews can be strict, so strict as to be unbreakable. This is one occasion where lateness can come at a direct price – you may have to struggle to find another place to spend the night, without your luggage safely cloistered.
  • Accommodation is generally limited to one or two nights, depending on the monastery.
  • There is generally no specific rate for an overnight stay, but donations are welcome and a typical amount may be mentioned in an inquiry.

Agios Nektarios, Kontos, Aegina

This thriving convent offers limited accommodation for overnight guests. The reservation is made by fax or telephone, with fax preferred. Foreign guests can stay for two nights; Most pilgrims are limited to a single night at this monastery dedicated to a native Greek saint, Agios Nektarios.

Mount Athos, Greece

The monasteries of Mount Athos accept male visitors for an overnight stay, but this must be arranged in advance and they are intended primarily for Greek Orthodox pilgrims who visit all the monasteries on the peninsula, but also visit many non-Orthodox men. Prince Charles of England is a regular visitor, although he has a royal family connection to Greece through his father, Prince Philip.

Jesuit Retreat Center Manresa, Oinoi, Greece

This non-Orthodox Catholic Jesuit retreat center in Greece on the slopes of Mount Kitharion offers a video of its center in West Attica, which is relatively close to Athens itself. It can accommodate up to 35 people at a time and many visitors attend in groups. You may want to have your volume control open before clicking – the site’s music, while nice, can’t be turned off.

Other resources: pilgrimage as a way of life

Subtitled “A Contemporary Greek Nunnery as a Pilgrimage Site,” this academic dissertation by Mari-Johanna Rahkala, M.Th. from the University of Helsinki offers a detailed look at modern pilgrimage practices. While her experiences took place in a specific convent in northern Greece, to save the nuns unwanted publicity, she renamed it in her studio. The dissertation is free to download and is an interesting read.

Fanermomeni Convent, look for de Salamis, Salamis

This active convent has some rooms for visitors. The island of Salamina is neglected by tourists and is an active and active island in the Saronic Gulf, with shipyards and other industries, but it also has areas of great natural beauty. The convent complex is located near the sea in a pastoral area. The island and the monastery energetically celebrate a long festival in August.

Monasteries of Greece –

This extensive site has information on monastic establishments in Greece, along with articles on monastic practices and contact information for most monasteries. In twelve languages (choose your flag), but not all pages are translated and you may need to copy and paste into Google Translate or another machine translation service to get the information you need.

Church – Iglesias from Greece

This website has extensive information on the churches of Greece, aimed at the Greek-speaking and Greek-reading population. It is in Greek, but can be translated into understandable English using Google Translate or another machine translation service.

Saint Agathon Monastery, Oiti

This monastery in the Oiti area of Fthiotida offers some guest accommodations. Oiti is sometimes spelled Iti.

Leimonas Monastery, Lesbos (Lesbos)

Situated in a meadow (leimonas), this beautiful and peaceful place is worth visiting for a day, but it also offers overnight accommodation for pilgrims. Call ahead.

Women are not allowed in the main church, but they can tour the ecclesiastical museum and the rest of the complex.

Contact information: Leimonas Monastery
Here’s more on monasteries and churches on Lesbos.

Monastery of Agiou Raphael, Lesbos

This monastery complex on the Greek island of Lesbos also offers overnight stays for pilgrims.

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