Monastery Simonos Petra
Founded: Middle of 14th century
Founder: Blessed Simon
Feast-day: 25th of December
Library: Very few manuscripts due the to a fire in the 17th century
Collection: Portable icons of the 14th century. Art objects of wood-carving and metallurgy
Further south along the south-western coast and after the habour of Dafne , pops up suddenly, as if hanging by stone heigh above ,the towered monastery of Simonos Petras. Founded on an abrupt rock, so much as 300 metres above the sea, it seems to dify the laws of gravity and built beyond the limits of human labour. This is something only someone understands better when he dares to climb up from the tarsana towards the monastery .
A definition in the file of the Abbey Saint Panteleimonos, indicating the Abbey of "Simonos" in two documents dating back to the 11th and 12th century, led students to the opinion that the Abbey has ancient roots , and that after a long period of dissappearance (desolation), it was revived by Osio Simona ,who's name proves the initial owner. This opinion presupposes that no other abbey preexisted with the same name in another area. Other students consider that there were two different monasteries with the same name. According to the Life of Osio Simonos the admired reconstruction on the steep rock was attempted after a divine indication: a star lowered and shone above on the Stone, and from then on it also aquired the name "New Bethlehem".
The chrysobull of Ioannis Ouglesis,which was published near 1368 and is saved in reliable condition , convinces that the Serb souvereign was the next owner (after Osios Simonas ). According to this text, he asked for authorisation from the Sinaxis in order to erect buildings on that "deserted place".
The work took place in the decade 1360, but traces of the first erection are barely visible nowadays because of the destructions and the repeated renovations that followed: the Abbey, built as a fortress high above on the rock, could easily escape pirate threats, but it could not be rescued from the disaster of fire. According to remembrances written on a manuscript, fires burst out, in 1580,.1592, 1625 etc.... Particularly devastating for the Abbey was the fire of 1891. The weakness in reestablishment from these catastrophies , led to the creation of the idiorythmic way of monastic life for many years.During the last centuries it went through a lot of stages : from wretched poverty and desolation to rich and prosperous. The buildings, that determine the architectural form of Simonos Petras , are work that took place between 1862-1902, as they are certified by the wall signs. But not absent are material evidences of older building phases, that reach far back to the Byzantine period.