|Monastery of Odigitria|
If you follow the road towards the south from Kamilari, after the villages of Sivas and Listaros, you will soon arrive at the monastery of Odigitria ("Our Lady (The Virgin Mary), Who Shows the Way"). It is a 15th-century fortress-type monastery (the base for this monastery was founded even in the Xth century, in 961, a couple of km before). It is still in activity, and can be visited freely. Father Parthenios, the monastery's abbot, will give you a warm welcome, and he will eloquently tell you the story of the monastery and the surrounding area. Efforts have been made in recent years to renovate the buildings within the monastery boundaries, which are dominated by Xopateras tower.
Xopateras was born in the now-derelict village of Manoussanas in 1788, and his real name was loannis Markakis. He was forced to leave the monastery because he stopped a Janissary who insulted his family, and the bishop defrocked him. As of then, he was called Xopateras (out-father) or Xopapas (out-priest), and became a legend after the drama that took place in the monastery with him as the hero. In February 1829, 3000 Turkish soldiers and riders were sent to exterminate him. The monastery is connected with a part of our history during the Turkish rule since it was a centre of the rebels. The destructive action of Xopateras, against the Turks is well known. They eventually got the best of him and succeeded in stopping one of Messara's bravest men. So, the monastery of Odigitria is a monastery of great importance and historical value.
It is placed in the west edge of the Asteroussia mountains at an altitude of 250 m. The monastery was surrounded by walls, parts of them still stand. A plaque on the western gate dates it from 1.568 A.D. Inside the monastery, you will also see an olive mill, an old oven, and other objects of monks' former daily life. The temple of the monastery is dedicated to the Birth of the Holy-Mother and to the Saint Apostles. Inside the temple there are valuable frescoes, icons of famous painters and iconostasis from a range of different periods.
If you like quietness and edge-of-the-world atmospheres, this place will leave you great memories. From the Xopateras tower (you should get up the tower) of the monastery, the nature all around will appear to you both: poor and strong. It's just an amazing view and place for everyone who likes the desert-dry landscapes. The silence might be broken just by the sound of the sheep bells ringing from the hills.