Apostle Paul after Athens chose to visit Corinth, where he stayed for a year and a half preaching the word of God. Then, Corinth was the most important commercial centre of Greece. Nowadays, the area receives a large number of travellers from every corner of the world who wish to visit the Archaeological Site of Corinth and to see the place where Apostle Paul preached.
Countless Byzantine churches and historical monasteries built in picturesque settlements, harmoniously located in modern cities or on top of steep rocks testify a land of long history and tradition.
Agia Theodora Vasta is a small Byzantine church and has 17 holly and maple trees growing from its roof. Most of them are taller than 30 metres and it’s phenomenal as there is only one root about the thickness of an arm that is visible beside the entrance.
Even more amazing is its tiny barrel vaulted interior where, except for one wispy bit of green there is not one sign of the trees or roots. Another fascinating fact about the location is that a river runs beneath this church and irrigates the trees.
The Holy Monastery of Mega Spileon is placed 11 km far from the town of Kalavryta. The Monastery of Mega Spileon was originally built in 362 AD by two brothers, Symeon and Theodore, when a shepherd girl, after a dream, found an icon of the Virgin Mary inside a cave. The icon was made of wax and mastic and it is believed that Apostle Luke painted it. The Monastery has suffered numerous destructions and fires along its history. In spite of all these damages, the Monastery of Mega Spileon is a very imposing construction and has a 17th century church with remarkable frescoes, mosaic floors and a bronze door with relief decoration. The Monastery also hosts a museum that displays carved wooden crosses, antique manuscripts and Holy Gospels. A good number of its important relics are also kept in a special hall.
At an idyllic location at the foothills of mount Velia, a little higher from Kalavryta, is the famous monastery of Agia Lavra, which is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Its history is directly related to the beginning of the Revolution of 1821, which was indicated by the raising of the flag and the oath that the chieftains took by the Metropolitan Germanos III of Old Patras.
According to tradition, the monastery was founded in 961 and initially it was located approximately 300 m. higher, at the location Palaiomonastiro. It was torched by the Turks in 1585 and operated again in 1600, while in 1689 it was transferred to its present day location by abbot Eugenios.
During the Revolution of 1821 it plated a significant role, providing money and food. In 1826 it was torched by Ibrahim, but the monks managed to abandon it, saving a lot from its precious relics. It was reconstructed in 1828 with the addition of a third catholicon, but it was destroyed again by an earthquake in 1844 and was reconstructed in 1850. The last great destruction was in the hands of the Germans in 1943 and the final reconstruction took place in around 1950 under the supervision of the well-known architect Anastasios Orlandos.
The monastery has an excellent library with rare books and documents, and a museum with unique relics from the Greek Revolution, like the famous flag, a Gospel with diamonds, gift from the empress Catherine of Russia, and the priest garments of Germanos of Old Patras. Furthermore, there are the relics of saints and the skull of Agios Alexios, patron saint of Kalavryta, donated by Manuel Palaiologos in 1398.
Each year, on the 25th of March at the area of Agia Lavra a reenactment of the taking of the oath of the fighters and the declaration of the Revolution of 1821, attracting hundreds of people from every area of the country.
It is a men’s monastery and it celebrates on the 15th of August.
This miniscule monastery built inside the rocks, called “Panagia tou Vrachou” (Madonna of the rock), is a strange and interesting place to visit. Built inside a rock, it has two stories, of which the upper one was used to store foodstuffs. It was used during the Ottoman occupation as a safe haven from persecution by the local Greeks by the Ottomans.
You can visit it on your way from Karia to Feneos. At the village Kato Tarsos turn right and follow the signs up the mountain.
The Apostle of Nations visited Corinth three times during his journeys and his letters to the Corinthians are supreme examples of Christian teaching, and as a matter of fact he himself founded the first metropolis.
At its yard dominates the impressive bell tower, with a height of almost 30 m., which is all that is left from the older church, while there are chapels dedicated to Agios Kyriakos the Anchorite and Nektarios of Pentapolis. At its interior there are baptistery halls and halls for the meeting of the church council, as well as a confessional. The three aisles are dedicated the central to Apostle Paul and the side ones to his disciples, Timothy and Titus.
The church celebrates on the 29th of June.
The imposing stone entrance gate of the monastery lies at the foothill of mount Vesiza, at an elevation of 1050 meters, four kilometers from Kryoneri village in the municipality of Sikyona. The monastery is laid out around a huge plane tree that dominates the courtyard; the church, the cells of the nuns, the guesthouse, the fountain, the orchards and the old well. The original marble marquetry on the floor dates back to the 11ο -12ο century A.D. The icon of Our Lady of Lechova dates back to the 17th century and it was painted by the Zakynthian hagiographer Theodoros Papantonis or Georgantas. Monastery currently operates as a nunnery.
The catholicon is cross-in-square church with a dome supported on two columns and date from 1896, since then it was renovated, when the monastery was transferred. At its interior survives the elaborate old wooden-carved screen of the 17th century, which is decorated with representations from the Old and the New Testament, as well as the icon of Theotokos Faneromeni, which is considered the work of Luke the Evengelist. The monastery has relics, among them the holy skull of Agios Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem. Outside the monastery there is a small church of Agia Marina, which dates from the 16th century and has been painted by the great painter of that period, Demetrios Kakkavas.
It celebrates on the 23rd of August with a three-day celebration and a procession of the icon from the old to the new monastery.
The monastery also celebrates on the 11th of March (day of Agios Sofronios), on Bright Friday (day of Zoodochos Pigi – Life Giving Source), on the 17th of July (day of Agia Marina) and on the 9th of November (day of Agios Nectarios).
St George of Feneos is a very old monastery. It hangs suspended almost over Lake Doxa, in a deep bed of forest. Enter the court yard and go up to the partly renovated, thanks to European funds, second floor where the lone monk will offer you homemade rose petal preserve. A real treat! Then sit and gaze, peacefully, at the great view of the peaceful lake down below, contemplating, like so many before you on the same spot, eternity…
To reach the monastry follow the road to Mesaia Trikala, then turn right at the sign for Karya. Continue straight, then take a left turn at the sign for Feneos. The monastery is perched on top of lake Doxa.
The monastery of Agios Vlassis, in the village of Upper Trikala, is an oasis of peace. And its well-kept flower garden is a real beauty! Admire the icon of Saint Vlasis, the finding of which in the surrounding mountains led to the founding of the monastery; the wooden temple crafted by master Skordilis; and the religious icons painted by N. Santorinaios.
To reach the monastery follow the sighns to Ano Trikala, then continue up the mountain towards the Ziria sports centre. You will meet the monastery on your left hand side.
At the village Plataniotissa, 30km northwest of Kalavryta, at a beautiful green location, is one of the most peculiar and special pilgrimages of Greece, Panagia Plataniotissa, from which the village took its name.
It is a very small church dedicated to the Birth of Virgin Mary, which has been shaped in the cavity of a huge, very old platanus tree. The tree has a perimeter of around 17 m. on the basis and height of25 m., and through time it has created a complex with two other platanus trees.
At the interior of the church, inside a natural cavity of the platanus tree, there is the depiction, in a miraculous way, of the icon of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. The icons is identical to the one at the Monastery of Megalou Spilaiou, to be accurate it is the reverse of it.
The church celebrates on the 8th of September.
At the beach of Aigio, at the wooded rock over the old paper factory, is one of the most beautiful pilgrimages of Greece, the majestic church of Zoodochis Pigi (Life Giving Source), also known as Panagia Tripiti. The name comes from the tradition that the icon of the Virgin Mary was found inside a small cave, that is a hole (tripa in Greek) on the rock, by a castaway who became the first ascetic at this location.
The foundation of the church dates from the middle of the 16th century, the period when the icon was found, and the simple shrine that existed initially in time attracted more monks.
The church was built in the cave of the rock where the monastery used to be and part of it is carved on the rock. Main access is through a large scale staircase of renaissance style, with 150 steps, which was constructed in 1870 to plans of engineer Angelos Korizis. In the rock, lower from the church, in a small cave survives the hermitage of the first monk.
The church celebrates the day of Zoodochos Pigi, on Bright Friday.
St. Fanourios by the lake Doxa