After spending a beautiful night at the Asclepieio of Gortys we decided to join Rennate and George, a German couple we met the day before, for a morning hike at Lousios gorge. Christos went fishing trout at the river.
We first headed towards the Prodromou Monastery. The path goes through the gorge near the Lousios river. The scenery is spectacular. High rocks over our heads. Wild and noisy river as it rushes through the rocky terrain creating small waterfalls.
The Prodromou Monastery at Lousios Gorge
The path goes uphill after passing the bridge. Time for some deep breathing! I was sweating when we reached the monastery. Luckily the first thing we encountered was a spring with tasty cool water.
The Prodromou monastery, established during the 16th century, is well preserved, built on a huge rock which acts as a shelter. It’s a male monastery and as in all monasteries, women have to be dressed properly to enter. There’s a collection of clothes hanging at the yard, in front of the main entrance.
The impressive old rusty door, full of bullet holes, was closed. It seems that we arrived too early and the monks were praying at the church.
We decided to visit the nearby church of Saint Athanasios. Seated a bit higher than the monastery, it offers a panoramic view of the gorge and the monasteries of Philosophou build at the other side of the gorge.
Back to the Prodromou monastery and the old door is open now. The long hallway leads to an upgoing stair.
The view from the balcony to the gorge is amazing. Pretty high too. The river hum is loud.
There’s a small church almost inside a cave in the monastery. Cool, low light, old paintings on the rocky walls.
A monk offered us coffee and loukoumi, a chewy candy dusted in powdered sugar.
The Philosophou Monastery at Lousios Gorge
On the path again towards the old Philosophou monastery, the oldest monastery in Arcadia, and one of the oldest byzantine monuments in the country, established in 963 AC. It’s all ruins now since it got abandoned in 1836. Really impressive!
Build like a swallow nest on the huge rock and fortified with high walls, its’ only entrance has been a narrow one-man path that could cause a real problem to people with acrophobia. Now there’s a new stair with railings, ugly but practical. That’s all about conservation. Sadly, the remains of the building are left to demolish. It’s interesting to observe the ruins of the small room over the stair that leads to the church. It’s so small! Everything is too small for modern standards. The door, the windows, the fireplace. Those who lived in this must have been very lean and agile. The byzantine church inside the monastery is a small and beautiful piece of architecture.
Back to the path towards the new Philosophou monastery. After some minutes of walk we pass the entrance of the monastery. It’s well preserved, interesting buildings and nice view over the gorge. There’s a liturgy going on in the church. Calliope and Renatte went inside to join the other people in the church.
On our way back walking on the path through the gorge we are feeling hungry. All this walking in nature had its effect.
Time for a picnic under the shadow of the plane trees sitting next to the river. Two huge greek salads with plenty of olive oil, feta cheese and barley rusks replenish our energy stores. A dive in the rivers’ cold waters has been refreshing afterwards. The ARCADIA experience!