Olli Thomson
Photography

Albania – Ardenica

The Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos in Ardenica, to give it its full name, is an Albanian Orthodox monastery situated between Fier and Lushnja. The monastery was built in the 13th century on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos to celebrate a military victory in Berat. A theological school was founded there in the 18th century and built up an extensive library which was destroyed by fire in 1932. During the communist era the monastery was threatened with demolition but survived because the local priest explained told the authorities that it was the site where Albania’s national hero Skanderbeg was married. Since the communists were keen to exploit the Skanderbeg story for their own ends the monastry survived, though it was left to fall into disrepair. Following the collapse of the regime the monastery was returned to the Albanian Orthodox Church.

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