As I mentioned in an earlier post (click here), I visited Mystras on my first trip to Greece with my husband twenty years ago. This past October we made a point to revisit this magical historic site. Always seeming to run behind schedule, we arrived only two hours before closing, not nearly enough time to fully explore the lower town of the ancient city. After spending an hour at the Churches of Saint Demetrios, the Eavngelistria, and Saint Theodoroi, we practically ran up the steep slope of Mount Taygetos to see the Monastery of Pantanassa which was built in 1428.
On our way up the incline to the Monastery, we approached a steep stone staircase where two nuns, one of whom was elderly with a cane, thoughtfully descended a polished stone staircase (meaning slippery). My husband, a very kind soul, rushed up the steps to help the elderly nun descend the staircase. Mind you, 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 these stairs.
After a mindful and strenuous hike up the steep run of stone steps, we arrived at the Monastery feeling happy to be alive (just kidding, NOT). As we approached the lovely arched stone entrance, I noticed a nun watering plants in the garden. When we entered the courtyard to the Monastery, Sister 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 sprint 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 for the refreshments where the nuns also sell their own handicrafts. As she sensed I was worried about the time (nearing 6:00 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.
The theme of this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: Peek.
This week, share a peek of something — a photo that reveals just enough of your subject to get us interested. A tantalizing detail. An unusual perspective.