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Ardenica Monastery was found in 1282 on the orders
of Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos. The emperor recently
defeated Capetian House of Anjou that ruled Sicily at the time
during Siege of Berat (1280-81). To celebrate his victory and thank
God Andronikos chose an ancient chapel of Holy Trinity that was
erected on a site of an ancient pagan temple devoted to goddess
Artemis. Some scholars suggested that the name "Ardenica" is a
derivative of the name of Roman deity. Monastery held an important
place in religious and political life of the country. It managed to
gather a library of 32,000 books, much of these unfortunately were
burned in a fire of 1932. Ardenica Monastery is still active and it
is open to the public. It is common rule in the Orthodox monasteries
to wear long pants for man and skirts for women.
Many of the frescoes are made by famous brothers Kostandin and
Athanas Zografi in 1744.
Scholars claim that the Byzantine Emperor, Andronikos II
Palaiologos started building the monastery in 1282 after the victory
against the Angevins in the Siege of Berat. The chapel of Saint
Trinity was already there, erected centuries before. A pagan temple,
dedicated to Artemis had existed on the site before the chapel, and
it is thought that the name of Ardenica stems from Artemis. The
monastery site lies approximately 1 km from the Via Egnatia (a major
2nd century Roman road). On April 21, 1451 in this monastery was
celebrated the marriage of George Kastrioti with Andronika Arianiti.
The archbishop of Kanina, Felix said the mess in the wedding in the
presence of all the Albanian princes, members of the League of Lezhë
and the ambassadors of the Kingdom of Naples, Republic of Venice,
and Republic of Ragusa. This is mentioned first by A. Lorenzoni in
One of the most important clerics of the monastery,
Nektarios Terpos from Moscopole, wrote in 1731 a short prayer in the
form of a fresco. The prayer is in four languages: Latin, Greek,
Aromanian and Albanian in Greek alphabet. This fact is important
because it is the first text in Albanian written in a Greek-orthodox
church. The Albanian text reads (Albanian: Vigjin dhe mame e
Perendis uro pren fajt orete). At the end the writing is signed
Hieromonk - Nektarios Terpos the monk.
In 1743 me with the
initiative of the Berat's archbishop, Methodius, who was originary
of Bubullimë, Lushnjë District, western Albania, then Ottoman
Empire, the monastery was renovated: the paintings from this period
of the Zografi brothers pertain to this time.
Since 1780, in
the Monastery existed a Greek school to prepare clerics. In 1817,
the school became a high school, which had also a student house.
From this school graduated the Bishop of Berat, Josif. During the
Albanian National Awakening period the school became one of the
places where the Albanian Language was taught.
cleric of the monastery was Father Mark, who was the priest to find
the bones of Saint Cosmas of Aetolia, thrown in the Seman by the
The monastery had an exceptional library
of 32,000 volumes that got completely burned by a fire in 1932.
By the late 1960s in this monastery spent the last days of his
life the former primate of the Albanian Orthodox Church, Archbishop
Irene Banushi. In 1967, when the atheist campaign in the People's
Republic of Albania was in full swing, the monastery was saved from
demolition due to the intervention of a local priest who stated that
Skanderbeg was said to have been married there.
was closed for the public and for clerical duties in 1969 as the
communist regime declared Albania an atheist state. The buildings
and its surroundings were left in a state of decay for many years
until 1988 when a partial reconstruction took place for tourism
purposes. The Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania retook
possession of the monastery in 1992 after the fall of the communist
regime in Albania.