greece, guided tours, history, katakolon, kramasti, monasteries, orthodox, sights
The monastery of Kremasti (the hanging monastery)
(30 km – approx. 35 mins from Katakolon)
Looking at the Kremasti (hanging) monastery, one can easily see how it got its name. Imposing and impressive, it really seems to be hanging off the rock. The view you will have from here is amazing.
The monastery was founded in 1700, when shepherds of the area found an icon of the Virgin Mary hanging in a cave, high up in the mountain. They couldn’t explain the presence of the icon there, so it was considered to be a sign from God that a monastery should be founded here. The first monks settled near the cave and build a small chapel. From the chronicles we learn that they were specialized in treating people who were “possessed”. (Today one can still see the chains which were once used for this macabre purpose…)
photo by Vassilis Hadjizacharias
In 1930 the monastery was converted into a nunnery. Many people visit this monastery for the miraculous icon it possesses. It is said that the wicks of the oil lamp burning in front of the icon help couples who have fertility problems …
If you decide to visit this nunnery make sure to be dressed appropriately. If not, there are a few (not so fashionable and worn at least a hundred times by all kinds of people, without having been washed) skirts and trousers at the entrance. These appropriate cover ups make some interesting outfits!
The nuns living here are sweethearts and usually very hospitable and chatty. There is also a little souvenir stand where they sell little icons, handmade bracelets, etc.
This nunnery can be visited during the morning hours (10.00 – 12.30). Please note that you are supposed to ring the bell so the nuns can open the gate. Nice to combine with a visit to Olympia since it is on your way. On your way to Olympia (11 km before you arrive) there is a sign which says “Kremasti nunnery”. It’s really worthy to leave the highway and get off the beaten track. Turn left and just follow the signs. After a minute or 10 you will arrive at the monastery. After your visit, don’t go back to the highway but take the secondary road through the villages of Pelopion and Platanos in order to see some of the authentic Greek village life. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have a real Greek coffee in one of the authentic kafeneia among the locals. In Olympia all the cafeterias are much more touristy……