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East of the ancient site of Stymphalos, next to the main road, stands the bulk of a tower-shaped pillar, part from the Monastery of Cistercian Monks of Zaraka. Next to this lay the remains of the church. Frankish monks arrived in the area as commanded by Pope Innocent III for religious orders settle in Greece. The knights of the Fourth Crusade had just overthrown the Byzantine Empire. The exact foundation date of the monastery is unknown, however historic testimonies lead to the conclusion that the monastery was built in the early 13th century, and specifically before 1236. The monastery was constructed using an ancient building material, probably from the temple of Artemis that is believed existed there.

The Cistercian monks were the first to respond to the invitation of Innocentius. During the first half of the 13th century they founded 12 monasteries. The first reference to the monastery is made in a letter of Pope Gregory IX to the abbot of Zarakas, Peter, which dates back to December 23, 1236. In most occasions the Cistercian monks occupied Greek orthodox monasteries and restored them. The monastery of Zarakas was built from the beginning. When the Frankish lost their sovereignty in the region, the catholic monasteries in the Greek territory are forced to close.

Until 1260, the monastery is mentioned sporadically in the statutes of the Cistercian General Chapter and it was one of the few not been obliged to participate in the annual compulsory attendance to the General Chapter. The monastery was required to attend once every seven years. It was abandoned in 1276.

The church was excavated in 1928 by A. Orlando and in 1962 by E. Stikas. In 1993, the Archaeological Service granted the Canadian Archaeological Institute permission to conduct excavations. The excavations lasted until 1997 under the supervision of Professor Dr. Sheila Campbell.

The church is a three-aisled basilica with an elevated middle aisle, dome roofed by pointed arch cross-vaults. The north external wall is reinforced by buttresses, while on the northeast corner of the church’s protrusion there is a belfry. The decoration of the church represents the simplicity and the impeccable style of the roman buildings.

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