A hike at Lousios gorge and a visit to Prodromou and Philosophou monasteries

Fishing trout at Lousios river. Arcadia, Peloponnese

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.

Hiking at Lousios gorge. Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece
Hiking at Lousios gorge. Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece

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 at Lousios gorge. Arcadia, Peloponnese
The Prodromou Monastery at Lousios gorge. Arcadia, Peloponnese

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 main gate to the Prodromou Monastery full of bullet holes. Arcadia, Peloponnese
The main gate to the Prodromou Monastery full of bullet holes. Arcadia, Peloponnese

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.

Philosophou monastery at Lousios gorge (963 AD). Arcadia, Peloponnese
Philosophou monastery at Lousios gorge (963 AD). Arcadia, Peloponnese

Back to the Prodromou monastery and the old door is open now. The long hallway leads to an upgoing stair.

The main gate to the Prodromou Monastery full of bullet holes. Lousios gorge, Arcadia, Peloponnese
The main gate to the Prodromou Monastery full of bullet holes. Lousios gorge, Arcadia, Peloponnese

 

The view from the balcony to the gorge is amazing. Pretty high too. The river hum is loud.

Bells at Prodromou Monastery. Arcadia, Peloponnese
Bells at Prodromou Monastery. Arcadia, Peloponnese

There’s a small church almost inside a cave in the monastery. Cool, low light, old paintings on the rocky walls.

An iconography on the cave wall at Prodromou monastery. On the painting is sculpted the build date APXZ and reign of Emmanuel Komninos. Arcadia, Peloponnese
An iconography on the cave wall at Prodromou monastery. On the painting is sculpted the build date APXZ and reign of Emmanuel Komninos. Arcadia, Peloponnese

A monk offered us coffee and loukoumi, a chewy candy dusted in powdered sugar.

The stairs leading to the yard of the Prodromou Monastery. Arcadia, Peloponnese
The stairs leading to the yard of the Prodromou Monastery. Arcadia, Peloponnese

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!

Exploring the ruins of Philosophou monastery, 10th century AD. Lousios gorge, Arcadia, Peloponnese
Exploring the ruins of Philosophou monastery, 10th century AD. Lousios gorge, Arcadia, Peloponnese

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.

The Assumption of Mary church inside the Prodromou monastery. Lousios gorge, Arcadia, Peloponnese
The Assumption of Mary church inside the Prodromou monastery. Lousios gorge, Arcadia, Peloponnese

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.

Iconography inside the church of the Assumption of Mary. Philosophou monastery, Arcadia, Peloponnese
Iconography inside the church of the Assumption of Mary. Philosophou monastery, Arcadia, Peloponnese

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!

Comments

  1. Natalia

    Hello!
    It looks beautiful there!
    I was wondering what the distance is between Podromou and Philosophou monasteries. How long does it take to walk between them, roughly?

    We’d like to see them on our way to Olympia from Tripoli but we don’t know if we’ll have time… We’d park our car near Podromou then walk to the monasteries and then back to the car…

    Any information would be really helpful!
    Kind regards,
    Natalia

    April 17, 2016 Reply
    1. Hi Natalia,

      It takes about 40 minutes to walk from Prodromou to Philosophou monastery. It’s a relatively easy path that goes downhill to the river and uphill to the monasteries. You’ll spend some time visiting the old Philosophou monastery which is mostly ruins but still visually interesting. Another 10 minutes walk for the new Philosophou monastery.

      If you also want to visit ancient Olympia and the museum you’ll need plenty of time for this too. You’d better skip visiting the Philosophou monasteries and just visit the Prodromou monastery.

      My favorite route from Tripoli to Lousios gorge is the road passing by the Hospital in Tripoli, going through Menalon mountain to Chrysovitsi and Stemnitsa. Right after Stemnitsa there is the sign for the narrow road that goes down to Lousios river and Prodromou monastery.

      After Stemnitsa there is Dimitsana and then Laggadia. All very interesting villages with typical Arcadian architecture and built on equally impressive landscape. Perfect places for a coffee break. Also give a try to the local pastries and food.

      Have a nice time!

      April 18, 2016 Reply
  2. Natalia

    Thank you so much for your advice and detailed response! That’s been so helpful! Best wishes!

    May 3, 2016 Reply
  3. Natalia

    Thanks to you, we found the monasteries and had a lovely day. Thank you so much!

    May 8, 2016 Reply
    1. Glad that you enjoyed your visit. Best regards!

      May 8, 2016 Reply
  4. Gilat levy

    Hello! thank you for all the information. Where did you start your walk and how long did it take to reach Prodromou? Many thanks! Gilat

    March 5, 2017 Reply
    1. Hi Gilat,
      We started from Ancient Gortys right at the end of the asphalt road. You can park your car there and walk over the bridge then turn right for the path which is signed and easy to find, goes up the Lousios river.
      The walk until Prodromou is about half an hour, but you’d allow more time for enjoying the fantastic scenery of the gorge.
      If you just want to reach Prodromou, you can drive there, the road goes very close and you only need a 5 minutes walk to reach the monastery.
      Have a good time!

      March 5, 2017 Reply
  5. Gracia

    This is very helpful, thank you. We’re driving from Athens to Mystras then to Prodromou and Olympia, any recommendations for routes, sights etc.? Thank you in advance!

    April 27, 2017 Reply
    1. Hi Gracia,

      Driving from Athens to Mystras you could visit the ancient Corinth and ancient Nemea (amazing gold jewelry collection and well preserved stadium)
      Mystras to Prodromou, you can follow the new road Sparti > Megalopoli (ancient theater and interesting city ruins with the power plant as background) > Elliniko > Prodromou.
      Karytena, Stemnitsa, Dimitsana, Laggadia, are picturesque traditional towns worth exploring, but all this is too much for one day.

      Have a nice time!

      May 3, 2017 Reply
  6. Miko

    Hello, we decided to go to lousios gorge tomorrow over night. Currently we are 15 km north of Kalamata. We have a hire car. We don’t want to walk more than 4 hours in total tomorrow. We definitely want to see prodromou monastery & philosophou monastery. Which village can we stay? Can we do an around walk within 4 hours or do we need to catch a cab to return to our car? Please help.

    September 14, 2017 Reply
    1. Hi Miko,
      You can drive through Megalopoli to Elliniko village, then to the parking of Prodromou monastery and leave your car there. Follow the path to Philosophou and then back to Prodromou. The walk back and forth is about two hours but you’ll need more time to visit the monasteries and enjoy the scenery. You can stay at Dimitsana or Stemnitsa.
      Have a nice day!

      September 15, 2017 Reply

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