Monastery of Timios Prodromos
The Monastery of Prodromos of Arcadia is a historic monastery of the 12th century, built 30 km west of Astros and close to the villages of Kastri and Perdikovrisi. It is considered one of the oldest monasteries in Kynouria.
The Monastery which is also known as “The Lady of the Gorge”, since it dominates the most beautiful section of the gorge (Monopori), on the western side of the Lousios, 11km south-west of Dimitsana and around 86km from Tripoli. At Monopori there used to be caves inhabited by ascetics, which were destroyed by the Slav invasions in the 7th and 8th centuries.
Shaped within a natural cave 128 metres long and 0.6-8m wide, at the foot of a sheer cliff, and about 200 metres above the bed of the Lousios river, the monastery is at an elevation of about 500m. Imposing and rugged, the landscape spreads out beneath it to the bed of the river.
According to tradition, when the monastery was being built, a carpenter was demolished along with a chipped stone. When the others came down to pick him up, they saw him walking up the path with the stone on his shoulder. During the Revolution of 1821, the monastery, due to its inaccessible location, served as a base against the Turks, as a military hospital, but also as a shelter for the civilian population. In May 1821, the monks took an active part in the battles of the Dolians and the Berbens. In 1826, Ibrahim Pasha besieged the monastery twice, to no avail.
The monastery now lists 4 monks and celebrates on September 6, nine days after the feast of Prodromos and on September 14 of the Holy Cross. It is made up of two buildings. To the east is the original building and to the north the newer one, which was built in 1860. These two buildings with the additions and the erection of new floors, which have been accepted from time to time, form part of the building.
In the courtyard of the monastery is the traditional fountain, a work of 1788, various storage spaces and the main entrance with the stairs. On the first floor, there are the dining rooms, the altar and some cells of the monks, on the second floor are only cells. On the third floor are the catholic church, the Igoumio, the archondariki of the monastery and the rooms for the hospitality of the visitors. On the fourth floor there is the library, the dining room, guest rooms, on the top floor are guest rooms and some of the old hermitages with the most important one being the chapel of Agios Nikolaos. The katholikon of the monastery has dimensions of 2.25x4.90 and is dedicated to Agios Ioannis the Prodromos. The original temple was a small basin and was built on the site of an old hermitage, located at the root of the carved rock. Later, with the construction of new floors, it was extended to the outside, where the main temple was built, where the sanctuary of the old ottoman remains to this day. The painting of the wall with frescoes which according to general confession is of exceptional art, according to the view of many researches is placed around the end of the 16th or the beginning of the 17th century.
Between the years 1834-1836 the monastery was dissolved by command of the Bavarian Regency, the reason being that it had fewer than six monks. All its assets (sacred books, codices, equipment, the relics of St. Athanasios of Christianopoulos etc.) were moved by care of a special committee to Dimitsana. In 1838, by decree of King Otto, it was given leave to function again and all its assets were restored.
The visitor can access the monastery from two points, and only by foot. The main road with cars reaches the church of the Transfiguration. From there a path of around 800m leads to the monastery , which juts out almost in mid air, hanging onto a steep cliff. The second route is longer but ideal for those who like walking, it starts from the Filosofou monastery and reaches the monastery after crossing the Lousios via specially created footpaths.