Monday, 28 November 2016

Monasteries of Mount Parnon

As the exams period came close to an end, I was in a constant need of change of scenery to clear my head from all the law-related stuff. This urge led to an impromptu visit to Mount Parnon, last Saturday. Our mission? Just to drive along the seaside route to Astros, then take the mountainous road to Aghios Andreas village, and maybe visit a couple of monasteries along the way. I personally am not that obsessed with Christianity but I love the ambiance of the dark little chapels, tucked away on mountainous slopes. Plus, it was a great opportunity to take photos!

A little bit about geography: Mount Parnon, or Parnonas, is a massif located of the southeastern side of Peloponnese, in Greece. It divides Laconia from Arcadia, both counties of eastern Peloponnese. It has great views to the sea in almost every corner of it, offering vistas to the Myrtoan and Laconian Gulfs. We mainly focused on the province of Kynouria, having already visited its seaside village of Leonidion last summer. Starting from Athens, we drove to Korinthos and then took the provincial road to Argos, continuing on the seaside road to reach Astros. Our trip continued with a quick mountainous route up to Astrokostas Monastery. 

It is really weird the fact that there is no information whatsoever about this monastery on the web. We learned about its existence from some friends, and with their help, we managed to find it. Astrokostas monastery used to be an important spot for the organization of the Greek revolution of 1821. Back then the monks used to help the combatants in their battle for independence, since they maintained good relations with the Ottomans and had a lot of wealth. Unfortunately, the monasteries of Peloponnese did not escape the ineffable slaughter of Ibrahim Pasha, losing all their power and being left to decline. For the following centuries the monastery was partly deserted. In the recent history, only two nuns were inhabiting it back in 2006. Both of them found a tragic death, when two robbers emptied the monastery of its valuables and killed them in their sleep. 

Today the monastery is empty, and is open to public by appointment. We were lucky enough to find it open when we arrived, so we roamed around a little bit, took photos, marveled the place and its sad history, discussed a bit with the monks that kept it open and continued our journey.

We then drove to the Monastery of Panagia Malevi, which is one of the biggest and well-known monasteries of Arcadia. It is famous for its miraculous image of Panagia (the Greek name of the mother of Jesus, or simply Madonna), from which an essence flowed for a short period of time, believed to be sent from God. I personally am not sure if every little religious tale is true but I don't actually care. The church and the surroundings are just so beautiful!

After paying our homage to the place we ended up hungry to our original destination, the village of Aghios Petros in Kynouria. The village is located on the northern slopes of Parnon, at an altitude of 950 meters. It is surrounded by green chestnut woods, with a pinch of walnut and lots of ravines. The church of Aghios Petros is in the main square of the village, which is also its central spot. It was almost deserted, but we had a great traditional lunch at a restaurant named "Spartacus", and then roamed around to buy some local products. If you go there do not miss the local walnuts and herbs.

As a last remark I would like to point out that the Greek life, especially the one in the villages, is closely related to the orthodox religion. The Greeks tend to be very depended on the teachings of Christianity and their attendance to the church every Sunday and in special occasions and celebrations. Of course this doesn't apply to all! But in case you want to know more about the Greek way of life you should also examine the religion and the impact that it has on the social structures.

As for me, I had a great time in the little excursion and managed to power up for the rest of my exams period.

I hope you enjoyed the post and I would love to read what you think!

Lots of love,


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