If there were one church throughout all of Ioannina which should be on every traveller’s itinerary, this would be it. Literally chiselled and built into the surrounding rock, the Holy Monastery of Kipinas is one of Greece’s most beautiful and impressive churches.
The complex was built in 1212 under the careful watch of the Metropolitan of Arta, Serapheim Xenopoulo, and dedicated to the dormition of the Virgin Mary. Throughout its 800 years of existence, the monastery played an important historic role, acting as both a secret school during the years of the Turkish occupation as well as a hidden arsenal throughout the Greek Revolution and the following liberation of Epirus.
Remnants of its historical significance can be found everywhere, including the wooden bridge which can still be lifted today just as it was centuries ago, along with several priceless frescoes and original documents. The monastery also contains a library as well as a few monk’s cells and common areas.
Another interesting aspect of the monastery is the existence of an entrance to a cave within its walls. It’s covered by a wooden door, but visitors to the monastery are able to venture in. Along its path, stalactites as well as small pools of water can be found, as researchers believe there is an underground river flowing below the foundations of the monastery.
Throughout the inhabited spaces of the monastery, visitors will also enjoy the spectacular views from its windows and the handmade furniture reflecting the region’s traditions in tapestry and craftsmanship. Even the uphill approach to the monastery is a breathtaking journey through the authentic beauty of Ioannina’s natural environment.