Greece: Fire damages 10th-century Byzantine monastery (UNESCO site)

Steiri, Boeotia, Greece, August 24, 2023     

A cherished Byzantine monument was badly damaged in a fire today.

As wildfires continue to wreak havoc throughout Greece, the fire at the 10th-century Monastery of St. Luke (Hosios Loukas) in Boeotia is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault, reports gercek news.

The monastery is a UNESCO-protected World Heritage Site and considered the most important Byzantine monument in Greece. The flames broke out yesterday afternoon and destroyed one of the oldest buildings and much of the surroundings, reports the Orthodoxia News Agency.

Thankfully, the monastery was evacuated in time and there are no human causalities.

Metropolitan Georgios of Thebes was on the scene, helping the firefighters as he could.


Fresco in the monastery crypt Fresco in the monastery crypt     

UNESCO writes that the monastery is an outstanding example of middle-Byzantine religious architecture. The organization states:

The monastery complex of Hosios Loukas and particularly its namesake Katholikon (main church), preserves its initial 11th-century form intact. This includes architectural and decorative elements, namely the mosaics, frescoes, architectural sculptures, marble revetment and pavements. Few were the losses or later repairs during the centuries, as in the case of the dome that collapsed and was rebuilt probably in the 18th century…

Interventions or damages to the Katholikon (main church) of Hosios Loukas over the centuries were minimal. The most important of these occurred during the War of Independence (1821). The monument was restored by well-known Byzantinists during the 20th century. In particular, damages were restored in an exemplary manner, newer interventions were removed, and initial elements of the church (such as window panels of plaster) were revealed. Thus, the monument was rehabilitated, with few additions, in its initial form, while the authenticity of the whole was preserved.

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