Monday, July 30, 2007

Pantokrator Monastery at the Top of Corfu

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In Kassiopi, we asked several natives about monasteries to visit nearby. As usual, everyone had completely different, and contradictory, answers, which, nevertheless, they themselves were quite confident about. (This is a Greek cultural thing: You can never admit that you don’t know, so you just make it up.)

So anyway, we set off for the highest point on Corfu, Mt Pantokrator, which also was supposed to be the site of a monastery.

The top photo is the view from the top – you can see the coast of Albania. Unfortunately, it has been SO incredibly hot in Greece lately that the haze obscured what would normally have been a breathtaking view. (Temperatures have been up to 118 degrees.) It was still pretty amazing, however.

The peak of the mountain does, indeed, house a monastery, but it’s a very curious thing. Somehow, an enormous communications tower has been placed right in the courtyard of the monastery! (See the second and third photos.)

The monastery is now basically just a tourist destination, and there is only one monk in residence, who hides somewhere during the day.

As we sat just outside the monastery’s gates having a coffee and enjoying the view, we actually saw one tourist enter the monastery in nothing but his Speedo! Fortunately, he was sent back out a few moments later to change into shorts and a shirt.

The bottom photo is of Fr Joseph playing with the monastery dog in the courtyard.

On the way back down the windy mountain roads, we passed through a little village and stopped and had a nice, traditional Greek lunch. The restaurant owner also had a key to the local church of St Paraskeve, and he very kindly gave us a tour after we ate.

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