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Visiting Ormylia

Page history last edited by Fr. Gregory Edwards 11 years ago


Visiting the Holy Monastery of the Annunciation in Ormylia

 

Many pilgrims to Thessaloniki are interested in making a trip out to the women's monastery of the Annunciation in the village of Ormylia, in Halkidiki. One of the most famous and largest monasteries in Greece today, it has well over 100 nuns from all over the world. It is a dependency of Simonopetra on the Holy Mountain, and its beautiful chanting style is directly influenced by its men's monastery counterpart.

 

Visiting hours

 

Unfortunately, information on visiting the monastery can be difficult to come by. Below are the hours that the monastery is open to pilgrims, current as of November, 2011. Be aware that the monastery is very well organized and exceptions to any part of its program are rare.

 

Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays:

          October-March: 10-2

          April-September: 10-4

 

Sundays:

          October-March: 10-4

          April-September: 10-7

 

If you visit the monastery on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, you will be limited to visiting a rather small "public" area of the monastery. Here, your visit will most likely consist of visiting with one of the nuns, having a coffee, and visiting the well-stocked bookstore. There is also a small church in which you can venerate the icons.

 

If you visit on a Sunday, however, the public is invited to come into the monastery's main church for the Vespers service, which usually occurs between 2:00-5:00 PM (later in the summer, earlier in the winter). The beauty of the church and the chanting makes this a must. The downside to going on Sunday is that there are usually more pilgrims there. This means that if you visit on the other days, you may have more time to spend talking with one of the nuns. Our recommendation, though, is to go on Sunday afternoon and attend the Vespers service.

 

Staying at the monastery

 

Those who desire to spend the night need to call and arrange the visit. Prepare to be put on a waiting list of at least six months -- yes, you read that correctly. So plan ahead if you desire the great blessing of spending a night at this monastery. Note that it is quite rare for men to be allowed to spend the night there.

 

Vigils

 

The monastery holds a certain number of vigils each year on major feasts. These are open to the public. They usually begin around 8:00 PM and last until 1:00 or 2:00 AM. The gates are open to pilgrims only two times, once at the beginning of the service and once at the midway point (around 10:30 or 11:00). You may enter or leave only at these times. Call the monastery for more details.

 

Medical Center

 

The monastery is well known, especially abroad, for its medical center, and for this reason many pilgrims are interested in visiting this center. It is not in continual operation, and its main purpose is as a center for medical conferences and to host a revolving team of volunteer Greek doctors who perform free preventative exams on locals. While it is located very near to the monastery and you can see it from the outside, it is quite rare that one will be allowed to visit it. 

 

Getting there

 

Unfortunately, it is not easy to get to the monastery with public transportation. First, you will have to go to the KTEL Halkidiki bus station. There is one bus from the center that goes here, but I do not know the number, and it is almost certainly a very long ride. The best bet, then, is to take a taxi, which will probably cost something like 8 euro.

From the bus station, you will ask for a ticket to the village of Ormylia. The bus ride should take about 1.5-2 hours. Once you arrive in Ormylia, you'll take a taxi to the monastery (probably around 5 euro).

If you have your own car, you will take the main road out of Thessaloniki, past the airport, and on to Halkidiki, stopping to ask for the way to the village of Ormylia. By car, the trip should take about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

It is possible to arrange for an American to provide transportation for you and thus act as a driver/tour guide/translator for popular trips to such places as Ormylia. In this case, you should remember that gasoline alone costs approximately 15 cents per kilometer. Thus, a trip to Ormylia, which is about 100 kilometers each way, would cost 30 euro just in gasoline. A typical visit there, including the 1.5 hour drive each way, could take about 5 hours. Thus, all together, you may want to consider reimbursing your driver/tour guide something like 90 euro for the whole trip, including the use/rental of a small car, which can take up to 3 other people (besides the driver/tour guide). It is also possible to get a minivan that can take up to 6 extra people, but this involves an extra cost.

 

Contact

 

The monastery's phone number is (30) 237-104-1278. They only answer during the hours listed above, and even then you must be persistent. They do speak English.

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