The Monastery of Saint Bessarion (Dousikou) at Trikala (in central Greece) is also called ‘Monastery of Sotiros ton Megalon Pilon’ (Monastery of the Savior of the Great Gate) because it is related with the nearby destroyed Byzantine monastery of the 13th century, the Monastery of Porta-Panagia of Pili at Trikala.
It was built between the years 1527-1535, at the place of the ruins of a monastery of the 13th – 14th century that was dedicated to Christ. The first Katholikon was built by Saint Bessarion, the Archbishop of Larisa (his feast day is on 15th September). He also came from this region and he was great figure. Apart from his holiness and humility, he also became known for the creation of important works for his era, such as his Monastery and the bridges of Korakos at Acheloos, as well as for the bridges of Portaikos and Sarakina at the prefecture of Trikala.
The Monastery was one of the rich and active Monasteries of this region and it also had holdings in Romania, as Saint Bessarion is known in Moldova for his miracles there. According to tradition, when the Monastery was flourishing, there were 365 monks’ cells, one Trapeza (1682) and also a very rich library.
In 1771 and in 1820, the Monastery was conquered by the Turk-Albanians, while in 1823, after the arrest and the imprisonment of the Abbot of the Monastery, it was slaughtered and conquered by the soldiers of Sultze Koritza. The Monastery was also destroyed by the fire and the bombings of 1943. Today, there are a few monks in the Monastery and it is inaccessible for women. However, a small chapel has been built for them outside of the Monastery.
Visitors can enter the Monastery through its main entrance which is situated almost in the middle of its southern side. The Katholikon of the Monastery is a central building in the yard and it is dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Savior (Metamorphosis tou Sotiros). It is built like the Monasteries of Athos and also a nave and an outer nave have been added to it. Above these spaces, there is the chapel that is dedicated to the Presentation of the Theotokos (Eisodia tis Theotokou), the chapel of the Honorable Forerunner (Timios Prodromos) and the chapel of All Saints (Agei Pantes). The Katholikon was beautifully painted by the great painter Tzortzis, from the “School of Crete” (“Kritiki Scholi” in Greek) and it was completed in November 1557. The carved icon screen of the Katholikon was made later and it dates back to 1813.
The Katholikon is surrounded by three-level buildings with wooden balconies where the rest of the activities of the Monastery take place. On the left of the entrance of the Monastery there is the Trapeza. Many of the initial buildings of the Monastery, like the part of the western wing of the cells, were destroyed in the past and today they have been reconstructed.
The Monastery celebrates on the 6th of August (the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ) and on the 15th of September (the name day of Saint Bessarion). In the Monastery, the skull of Saint Bessarion is kept.
The Monastery of Saint Bessarion is situated in a great full green region, 24kms away from Trikala and 5kms away from the town of Pili (the central town of the Municipality that has the same name). It is also above the village “Saint Bessarion” (ex Dousiko). If a visitor wants to go to the Monastery, he should cross the bridge Portaikos that was built by Saint Bessarion himself.