Monastery of Ayios Ioannis Prodromos at Armas

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The small monastery complex of Armas is built on a leafy area, on the northwest side of Nisyros, in the site of Roukki. It overlooks Mandraki from above. It is accessible via the carriage road that connects Mandraki with the monastery of Evangelistria or via a path, south-east of the church Panayia Faneromeni in Kardia.

According to one version, the name “Armas” is derived from Hermon (as the homonymous mountain in the Holy Land), which is a toponym hat was originally given to the area by the Knights.

It has been a Metochion (glebe) of the monastery of Panayia Spiliani since 1727, and it was probably built in the 17th century. The existence of an inscription Ι(ΗΣΟΥ)Σ Χ(ΡΙΣΤΟ)Σ Ν(Ι)Κ(Α) 1647 (JESUS CHRIST CONQUERS 1647) is mentioned in bibliography.

Nowadays, the half-ruined middle Byzantine monastery is protected by an enclosure/ The architectural complex of the facilities formed a “Π” framing the katholikon (main church), which is located on the northeast side of the complex. The building relics testify that, at the time of its prosperity, the Monastery had a great estate (olive trees, oaks, vineyards, etc.), as well as facilities for hosting monks with additional spaces of various uses. The cells were located οn the ground floor of the installations, to the south of the church, while a stone stairway still leads to the first floor, where the Abbot’s Office and the library were to be found. The warehouses, the dining area, and the bakery of the Monastery were next to the monks’ cells. On the other side, a hand mill, winepresses, a distillery, and a carved cave, which seems to have been used as a cellar for storing goods, were also located. Large pots are still stored inside. The stables and the stockyard are also located a short distance away. Two large cisterns provided the necessary amounts of water for both the monks and the animals they raised. Nowadays, unfortunately, the ruined buildings are not able to give the visitor the image of the Monastery of the period it was in use.

The monastery’s katholikon (main church) is in better condition. It is dedicated to the Νativity of John the Baptist and is celebrated on the 24th of June. It is a single nave; arched-roofed basilica (dimensions 5.20 x 4.60 m). The floor is covered with square stone slabs and black pebbles. The Sanctuary is distinguished from the main church with a wood-carved iconostasis, which preserves traces of color both from painting decoration and gold-plating. It is considered one of the most remarkable iconostases that are still preserved in Nisyros. The “despotic icons”, which have been removed from their initial place, come from donations of the faithful from 1907-1908. The icon of St. John the Baptist was to the left of Christ.

The interior of the church is decorated with frescoes, preserved today in a mediocre condition. The Great Deesis is depicted in the Sanctuary; Jesus is depicted between the Virgin Mary and Ioannis the Baptist, above the representation of the Holy Altar, which is surrounded by the four Hierarchs. A greatly damaged decorative band crosses the roof of the temple and divides the arch into two parts. Each is structured in five horizontal successive zones, which include the depiction of narrative cycles and individual forms. Τhe Second Coming is illustrated on the west wall, where the entrance of the church and a small light opening in a higher level are located.

The hagiographies of the church of Arma have several similarities with those of Panayia Diavatini and the church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary in the monastery complex of Siones, in the south-western part of Nisyros. The hieromonk Jonas is connected with the latter, according to the evidence of a document of 1733. According to the above data all the hagiographies might have been painted by the same hand.

These are made of faith and piety that are addressed to the ordinary average person, who gets touched by their folk style. Based on their stylistic characteristics, they can be dated to the second half of the 18th century.

Area of Mandraki, site Roukki, Nisyros, postal code 85303

Means of access:
By car, afterwards on foot

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