My visit to a Greek nunnery


Look closer.  There's a monastery at the top.  How did it get there??

Look closer. There’s a monastery at the top. How did it get there??

Showey’s adventures in Greece continue!

…I took exactly one look at the third monastery and correctly deduced that it was run by women. The place was spotless and daintily decorated with neat, bright gardens of flowers. Also, there was a large sign that read “Rousanou Nunnery”. My final clue was the clutch of enterprising nuns milling about everywhere, selling everything from their famous pine-tree honey to paintings of their monastery on tiny white stones. The nuns keep beehives in the back, smoking out bees in white beekeeping outfits. We bought a jar of honey, which leaked. As with all of the monasteries, it is verboten for women to wear trousers. Rather than booting the shameless trouser-wearing hussies off the mountain headfirst, the Sisters kindly provide skirts, which must be returned at the end of the tour.

The fourth and final monastery of my day was Agiou Nikolaou (there are six in total). Nikolaou is accessible by means of a 15-minute vertical climb up narrow a staircase, and most visitors are too pooped by this point to bother with it. Bravely I soldiered on armed with nothing but a cream-cake and a can of Fanta. The highlight of the monastery was an original, completely unrestored 16-century fresco of sinners being subjected to horrible tortures. There are sinners being pierced through the head, sinners being stabbed in the heart, sinners being decapitated – and they all move on a conveyor belt of blood into the jaws of a horrible satanic beast. Jesus Christ floats above them all, smiling beatifically: follow me, children, or terrible tortures await you. The other highlight of the Agiou Nikolaou Monastery was the thoroughly corrupt ticket-master. A millennial Greek, irritable and with a mouth full of chewing gum, he offered me a “special price discount” of 1 Euro on the 3 Euro fare, but neglected to print me a ticket. In practice this means that he probably pocketed my money, robbing the monks in the process. The only Greek words I know are “souvlaki”, “Pythagoras” and “Opa!”, none of which convey indignation. In closing I will say that the monks seem to be robbed a lot. They should take some lessons from the business-savvy nuns, but probably won’t. The same ticket-master also got volubly irritated when I got bored of my borrowed skirt and removed it. He piously told me to cover my legs. Then he probably went and robbed another monk.

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