Monastery of Panagia Kalamou Date - Timespan: 1001-1100 (Middle Byzantine Era 8th - 12th century AD)
The monastery is situated on the mountain lying north of Xanthi at an altitude of 170 m. and is dedicated to Virgin Mary (Panagia). It was probably founded during the 11th century AD, as it is evidenced by parts of a marble iconostasis and a funerary stele with embossing decoration, now kept in Kavala. Local tradition pushes the founding date backwards to the Iconoclasm years (726-843 AD), when iconolaters flew from Constantinople and came to this area, where they built the monastery. The name “Kalamou” or “Kalamiotissa” derives from the local tradition stating that a miraculous icon of Virgin Mary was found in a reed bed near Kossinthos River. Thus, the monastery, along with its katholikon (the main church), was dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God. It celebrates on August 23rd, on the Apodosis of the Dormition (Leave-taking). Except for the aforementioned parts of an iconostasis and a gravestone, there is currently no more evidence regarding the early phases of the monastery. Indirect information about the later history of the monastery is provided mainly through manuscripts, now kept in Sofia, Bulgaria. These handwritten liturgical books are dated between the 13th and 15th century AD and, along with other later ecclesiastical books and various notes on them, prove the existence and activity of the monastery during the Byzantine and Ottoman period.
The monastery flourished after the 15th century and a workshop for manuscripts reproduction there must have been operating in its grounds during the 16th century. Its wealth grew greatly in the 18th and 19th century, an element linked with the great prosperity of the area due to tobacco cultivation and processing. Nevertheless, the Commissioners from the city’s Council of Elders, who were in charge of the monastery’s economic and administrative affairs, mismanaged and appropriated a big part of its wealth. This fact, along with the earthquakes that took place in 1829 and the seizure and transfer of the monastery’s relics to Sofia during the Bulgarian occupation (1913-1919), led to its gradual decline. In 1922 a great part of the monastery’s estates was given to the refugees that came from Asia Minor after the population exchange with Turkey. Regarding the architectural history, the modern katholikon lies on top of older ones, but in general the monastery doesn’t relate much to its original appearance. The Post-Byzantine church that existed until 1829 was almost totally destroyed in the severe earthquake of that year. In 1955 some renovations took place, while a small church (a basilica) was built in 1965 by the Metropolitan of Xanthi and Peritheorion Ioakeim Sgouros. A complete renovation started in 1996 and the modern katholikon was inaugurated in 2001 by the Metropolitan of Xanthi and Peritheorion Panteleimon. The architecture of this church imitates that of the Protaton in Mount Athos. The guest house and monk cells, built during 1906-8, were recently renovated, too. One of the most interesting relics still in the monastery is the altar icon of Panagia “Kalamiotissa”, which was of the iconographic type of 'Hodegetria' and it probably dates back to the 15th century, as well as the icon of the Dormition of Theotokos, dating to the 19th century. Although the monastery was initially for monks, during the second half of the 20th century it became a community of nuns.
The modern katholikon lies on top of older ones, but in general the monastery doesn’t relate much to its original appearance. The Post-Byzantine church that existed until 1829 was almost totally destroyed in the severe earthquake of that year. In 1955 some renovations took place, while a small church (a basilica) was built in 1965 by the Metropolitan of Xanthi and Peritheorion Ioakeim Sgouros. A complete renovation started in 1996 and the modern katholikon was inaugurated in 2001 by the Metropolitan of Xanthi and Peritheorion Panteleimon. The architecture of this church imitates that of the Protaton in Mount Athos. The guest house and monk cells, built during 1906-8, were recently renovated, too.
Digitisation The monument was selected to be 3D digitised within the framework of the European Commission funded 3D-ICONS project by the Athena RC Xanthi's Division. It's exterior was captured in 3D using the Structure-From-Motion (SFM) and Dense Multi-View 3D Reconstruction (DMVR) methods. Aerial and terrestrial photoshooting sessions were performed during the winter of 2014 always during cloudy days. A total of four digitisation sessions were performed where each resulted a number of image sequences presenting the monument from different points of views. The terrestrial photoshooting sessions were implemented using camera tripods and custom monopods (3m-9m adaptive). We attempted to keep the distance between two terrestrial photoshooting points at 60cm. All aerial photoshooting was performed using a custom hexacopter equipped with gimbal remote controlled two axis tilt-roll camera base, first-person view (FPV) and GPS. A pair of Samsung NX1000 20MP compact DSLR cameras with fixed 16mm and 20-50mm lenses were used. Agisoft PhotoScan (ver. 1.1) has been used for the production of monument's 3D digital replica. Although, flight paths were designed they have been performed manually due to bad GPS reception (high buildings around the monument). Furthermore, the calibration of the cameras was performed by the software itself. A total of 10,000 photos were used to generated the 3D model. The processing of the image sequences was performed on two computer systems (CPU IntelCoreI74820K 3.7Ghz, 64GB RAM, Radeon R9 290X, Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit). Additionally, empirical measurements between strong (in terms of visibility) feature points on the surface of the monument were performed and used to scale the 3D model.
Keywords: Churches, Monasteries, Monastery, Katholika, Byzantine, Architecture, Late Byzantine, Oriental Orthodox, Christianity, Orthodox Church
Churches, Monasteries, Monastery
Copyright: Holy Metropolis of Xanthi and Peritheorion