In the centre of the lake Pamvotida is found its amazing all green islands, which combines the beauty of the natural environment with the rich historical tradition. Its graphic traditional settlement, with the small whitewashed houses, his paved streets and the famous monasteries, give the perfume of older seasons and fascinates the visitor. Here was built at the Later Byzantine Period an important monastic state with monasteries and hermits that are saved until today.
The most famous among them is the Holy Monastery of Saint Nikolaos of Philanthropists that is found in the western side of the island and constitutes one of the more important Byzantine monuments of the country, so much for its age and history, as much as for its priceless artistic value of religious painting.
As some relative signs testify, the monastery was founded in the after-Byzantine years and the catholic was renovated in 1291/2 from Michael Philanthropist, priest and butler of the Metropolis of Ioannina and spawn of the aristocratic family of the Philanthropists that were installed in Ioannina from Istanbul, after the conquest in 1204.
However, it met with its bigger acne in the 16th century. That season the catholic was renovated for the second time, it was extended and wall painted, in three phases (1531/2, 1542, 1560).
From the entire monasterial group it is saved the catholic, department of the two-storied building of the cells, the devastated bank, the cemetery and the grounds.
The catholic is wooden basilica, with arch ante-nave and three ante-chapels and it is decorated with brilliant murals (Platitera, Liturgy of angels, Dodekaorto, Akathistos Anthem, Second Presence, scenes from parables and miracles of Jesus, pictures from the P. Diathiki, Minologia of martyrs etc.).
The constituted decor of the abbey has an enormous illustration theme, a variety and clarity of styles, high technique, while its effect in many of the later monuments is uncontradictable. The representations are distinguished for their expressiveness, their theatrical movement, their narrative character, their descriptive plenitude, their passion and refinement.
The imposing mural total of the abbey recommends a monument - key and is included in the circle of the work of the monumental painting as it is named, that was crystallized in that we call "Ipeirotic Faculty", that was developed in the North-western mainly Greece in the 16th cent. with its main representatives the Thivans painters Franco Katelano and George and Franco Kontari (the religious painting of the northern ante-chapel is attributed to the last ones). This style is a product of urban environment, with indirect and marginal effects from the "Cretan" and the "Macedonian Faculty", but also elements from the powerful local tradition.
The instructive character of the hagiographies is connected with the intellectual glamour of the abbey, in which a Faculty functioned at the period of the Ottoman domination. According to the local tradition, the abbey also entertained the "Secret School" of the island, in a crypt that is found in the interior of the catholic. In its library the "Kouvaras" was kept, a handwritten code, where the monks recorded histories and remembrances of Ipeiros. More generally, in that season Ioannina were considered an important cultural centre in all the North-western area, where the culture of education found a right place (as an emanation of the humanist trends), the echo of which we hear in the depiction of the Greek philosophers of the antiquity in the mural of the ante-chapel.
Other important monasteries of the island are those of Saint Panteleimonos (in the southern side of which it is found the cell where Ali Pashas was murdered) the Stratigopoulou or Ntiliou, of the Prodromos, of the Eleoussa and the Metamorphosis of the Savior.