On a late afternoon in October, we visited the historical site of Mystras. After touring the Churches of Saint Demetrios, the Eavngelistria, and Saint Theodoroi, we climbed the steep slope of Mount Taygetos to explore the Monastery of Pantanassa.
On our way up the incline to the Monastery, we approached a steep stone staircase where two nuns, one of whom was elderly, gingerly navigated the slippery polished stone stairs with a cane. My husband, a very kind soul, rushed up the steps to help the nun descend the staircase. The staircase was perched on the edge of the mountainside where an accidental slip and fall would not have a happy ending. I was not looking forward to climbing those stairs.
After a slow and strenuous hike up the steep steps, we arrived at the Monastery feeling happy to be alive (just kidding, NOT). As we approached a lovely arched stone entrance, I noticed a nun watering plants in the garden. When we entered the courtyard to the Monastery, a Sister whose name was Akakia greeted us warmly and offered us a cooling vyssinatha (a cherry drink), water, and a kourambie cookie. Apparently, we looked a bit sweaty and winded from our climb up the mountainside.
Sister Akakia, her name meaning “one without badness,” told us she has lived at the Monastery for 52 years since she was 22 years old. She led us to a reception room where the nuns also sell their own handicrafts. As she sensed I was worried about the time (5:45 pm), she assured us we would not be locked in the fortress which closed at 6:00 pm.
Sister Akakia told us that six nuns plus Sister Superior live in full-time residence at the Monastery. In addition to the nuns, a small community of docile cats lounge and sleep in the courtyard of the Monastery where they live “the good life.”
The convent’s church is a blend of Byzantine and Gothic architecture. The views from the portico of the church are spectacular. Below are a few photos of the exterior architecture of this lovely Monastery. The photos do not do this place justice. I found the Monastery not to be photogenic. At first I thought it was me, the time of day we were there, but when I looked online at other photos, I understood the Monastery does not favor the camera. So, this means you must visit to truly appreciate the magnificence of Pantanassa.