Monastery of Timios Prodromos
An incredible 16th century monastery, nestled in the cliffs of the Lousios Ravine, part of the mountainous Arcadia region. It is built into the hollow of an overhanging cliff on the left side of the ravine, about 200 m above the river bed of the Lousios River, by monks who lived in nearby hermitages. An entire monastery, with its central chapel, its monks' cells, workshops, refectory and other supporting structures, all fitted into the hollow of the cliff. It also has a remarkable library with a great collection of over 1.000 historical books and documents. A little further, on a small hill, is the chapel of the miraculous Saint Athanasios, the patron saint of the monastery, with part of his relics. The small chapel offers panoramic view of the gorge and the Philosophou Monasteries, built at the other side of the gorge. The whole place is just extraordinary, offering peace, harmony and serenity.
The local monks place its beginnings in the 12th century, but observation suggests a 15th or 16th century origin at the earliest. The church of St. John the Baptist is aisled vaulted basilica, adorned with remarkable frescoes. Murals are also found outside the church. From the balconies of the Monastery visitors can enjoy spectacular gorge views. During the Greek revolution of 1821, the monastery served as a medical station for the injured Greek fighters and as a supply station for the Greek soldiers. In 1834 the monastery was dissolved due to a decree dissolving the monasteries which had less than 7 monks, but 1838 it was repopulated and became a great religious and spiritual center of the region.
The monastery is built 30 km away from Argos, near the villages of Stemnitsa and Dimitsana. It is on the Menalon Trail network from Dimitsana or Stemnitsa and is also accessible by road from between the two towns. To get there by car, you have to take the road from Dimitsana to Stemnitsa, turn right 2km before Stemnitsa and follow the signs. After 6 km from the turning point, you reach the point where you must leave the car and begin a walk along a lovely 600-meter footpath. When you reach the monastery, you will probably be greeted by monks who will show you around and offer refreshing cold water, coffee and ‘loukoumi’, a chewy candy dusted in powdered sugar. Keep in mind, in order to enter the Monastery, you have to dress appropriately – no trousers for women, no shorts for men. For this reason, there are long skirts and trousers hanging on hooks at the yard, in front of the main entrance.
From the Monastery of Saint John starts a walking path toward the Philosophou Monasteries, located on the western side of the Lousios river. Another longer route leads through preserved paths to Ancient Gortyn. Thousands of pilgrims visit the monastery each year, to explore the site and the surrounding landscape, characterized by imposing cliffs and verdant vegetation. The monastery now lists 4 monks and celebrates on September 6th, nine days after the feast of Prodromos and on the 14th of September the Holy Rood.