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Mega Spilieo Monastery
Founded in 362.

Above the town of Zachlorou is the monastery of Mega Spilieo, or Mega Speleion or Mega Spelaion -- in any case, the Monastery of the Great Cave.

It can be reached by road directly, or by a steep and very rocky path up from Zachlorou. I, of course, chose the path, and this first picture gives you some idea of the climb. (Also see this photo from the trail).

Founded in 362 where, as tradition relates, a shepherd found an icon in a cave, it has been perched to the cliff at the cave opening ever since. I lost track of how many times it has been burned down, the most recently being 1934. The tragedy of this is mitigated somewhat by the revelation that the fire started in a gunpowder magazine left over from the war of independence in 1821.

This is the icon, in wax and mastic of the Virgin holding the baby Jesus. The icon is attributed to St. Luke.

The monastery also suffered during the Kalavryta massacre.

At the monastery you can also visit the cave and a museum with many artifacts, such as this ornate cross. The caption related how it took 7 years for a monk to make this, then he went blind.

There is a hostel at the monastery, but I did not check it out.

A monk enjoys the view.
Last modified 5/22/00; © 2000 John P. Nordin