The weekend of March 25th found us in Mountainous Arcadia, to walk in the gorge of Lousios River, giving a hint of adventure in our excursion.
Lousios, the aquatic jewel of the Peloponnese, is a small river just 26km, in which according to Pausanias, the newborn Zeus was bathed at its sources by the Nymphs Neda, Agnau and Thinoa.Its fast-flowing waters in accomplishment with the untamed beauty of Arcadian land compose a breathtaking scenery. In this setting it is worth taking part, because the great director nature will reward you with great thrills.
From Prodromos Monastery to the Monastery of Filosofou and return from the same path
We followed a relatively short route, part of the certified European Menalon trail with a small degree of difficulty. We just got a taste-and it was enough-to want to come back some time to cross a more demanding part of this mountain path. The area of Menalon is located in Arcadia, in the heart of the Peloponnese, the richest region in history and landscapes of Greece. Menalon Trail is a 75km long mountain traverse that starts from Stemnitsa and goes through Lousios River ravine, the Western slopes of Menalo mountain, the valley of Mylaon and ends at Lagadia.
Our starting point was the church of the Transfiguration of Christ with its cool fountains and the unique view of the gorge of Lousios, just outside the village of Stemnitsa. From the parking area starts the paved path that leads to about 15 minutes in the Prodromos Monastery. Armed with our cameras and our best mood, we go to empty the mind from our concrete everyday life and fill it with images and aromas of a green Greece.
We descend to meet the great path of Menalon, following the marking with the latin letter m, and after a short course we see the impressive Prodromos Monastery. The spectacle is breathtaking, the monastery is literally anchored to the steep vertical cliffs. A little wild paradise unfolds in front of us. The washing lines hanging on the wooden narrow balconies testifies that there is life. Life that awakens all our senses. We will visit the monastery on our way back. The opening hours do not allow us to enter, as it remains closed between 13:00 and 17:00. The charming Call of Lousios lures us to accelerate the path, leaving the splash of water to guide us. Our fellow travelers, were the tweet of birds and the unspoiled nature with the rich fauna and flora.
This path combines all those elements, natural beauty, historicity, culture and religious history, which makes it special and ideal for walking. The closer we get to the riverbed the more intense its rushing hum and in combination with the high cliffs rising around us the atmosphere looks sensational. We’ve infiltrated the heart of the gorge. The route is very well waymarked. The iron Philosopher Bridge in front of us reveals the raging Lucio, which seems hasty and impatient
We΄ll make a stop to enjoy his ripple waters and immortalize his spectacular passage. We leave behind the bridge and ascend the signposted path that unites the two monasteries, Prodromos Monastery with the Old Philosopher . Our route becomes a little more demanding but remains the same thrilling and invigorating. We arrive at the crossroads where left leads to the Old Philosopher’s Monastery and right to Nea Moni. We Turn left and after the uphill stone steps we arrive at the entrance of the ruined Old Philosofou Monastery
Old Philosofou Monastery.
The Monastery is among the most historical and of the oldest in Arcadia, founded in 963 A.D. by Ioannis Labpardopoulos, the so-called “Philosopher”, who was the secretary of Emperor Nikiforos Fokas. It is also known as the “Secret school”, because during the Ottoman domination functioned as a School. Later, it continued as a Seminary in Nea Moni where important personalities of the Struggle( the Greek Revolution) and the Higher Clergy attended. It Is built on a natural rock pit and is not easily perceived.Surrounded by high walls that probably ensured protection and embrasures is a unique example of Byzantine architecture. It Is a truly indescribable sensation, which frankly does not fit many words. Follow its history through the photographic material below.
Although our time was very pleasant, unfortunately we had to take the road back before it started to dusk. Return from the same path. Same scenery, same scene, same path. Different feeling, more enjoyable and more therapeutic. We approach Lucio, who runs wild, eager to meet his big Brother Alpheus. From the bridge the trail ascend to the Prodromos Monastery. We followed the familair uphill trail with the help of a log replacing the trekking poles.
The Monastery in close proximity seems the same captivating. From any point of view, the architecture of the landscape is gripping. The courtyard, dominates the principle of simplicity that makes it even more attractive. There I met my new friend, a sweet little creature who caught my attention at first because of an imperfection. He gave me a lot of photo clicks -the best maybe of my whole route- posing on my lens. This moment has been food for thought : Beauty is in the eyes of Beholder.
The central wooden door that leads to the interior of the monastery is wounded by the bullets of the Turks during the Revolution, with the signs remaining there visible until today. The Prodromos Monastery was built in the 16th century but its foundation dates back to the 12th century. It is a wonderful simple monastery free from the industrialization that we may observe in some other monasteries. The outstanding wall paintings under the candlelight create a devout atmosphere that excites you
The monks deliver lessons of hospitality and love with their behavior. We are greeted in the parlor (archontariki) with a smile and care, offering us Greek coffee and Loukoumi (traditional delight).
Humility and purity are diffused everywhere, in the plain inner space of the monastery, in the monks ‘ s faces even in the natural environment in which it is built. The scenic view to the gorge of Lousios, from its balcony is wildly enthralling. Keeping as a last picture, I can say with certainty that our visit to the Prodromos Monastery was one of the most beautiful moments of our journey. And It is offered for a short break for exaltation and peace.