On Stamatiras hill, a forested offshoot of Mt. Parnonas, among pastures and farmland between the villages Tsitzina and Vassara of the former municipality of Oinountas, surrounded by peaceful, scenic wilderness, we find the Monastery of Sts. Anargyroi. The monastery was first mentioned in the chrysobull, or golden seal decree of Andronikos II Palaiologos who defined the jurisdiction of the Metropolis of Monemvasia in 1293.
Near the village of Goranoi lies the Monastery of Our Lady of the Life-Giving Spring, commonly known as Gola. The cathedral of the monastery is in good condition and it is a single-space nave, domed church with its two Athos-type choirs on the far ends. The church was built and adorned in 1632, shortly before the reconstruction of Zermbitsa. The goodwill of the locals and the Church of Sparta’s interest in the monastery led to the reconstruction of the monastic cells on the south side of the courtyard and construction works to protect the cathedral’s exterior.
The Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring is situated on the northern slopes of Mt. Taygetos near the small community of Taygeti, amongst tall pines and perennial plane trees. The community of Taygeti was originally known as Barsinikos or Varsinikos.
The Monastery of Zermbitsa is located in a prominent location atop a hill of Mt Taygetos. This setting gives visitors to the monastery a rare treat because from here you can behold the splendor of the magnificent Evrotas River valley. Looking westward, we see the highest peak of our proud and majestic Mt. Taygetos.
The Monastery of the Holy Forty Martyrs is considered a monument in the region of Therapnes as it transposed Chrysafa into a spiritual center and heightened its status to a town, and even more so, an ‘honorable land’, with its peak of prosperity in the 17th century. The original monastery was established in the early 14th century, with its monastic cells wedged in rocks and its cathedral tucked in a cave.
The monastery was founded in the late 19th century by Archimandrite Athanasios Ladopoulos. Tradition has it that when he was returning from a mill, he noticed his animals stop in front of a snake. When the serpent disappeared, he saw a vision of the Virgin Mary who instructed him to dig into the hill, find her icon and build a church on that exact spot. He did as he was told and found the icon, which is now displayed in the church of Faneromeni ‘Our Lady Revealed’.
Throughout the region of Therapnes, one encounters various Byzantine monuments of significant interest. It is well-worth visiting the churches of St. Demetrios, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John and the distyle, cruciform church of Our Lady of Chrysafitissa…
The eminently remarkable Christian monument of Vresthena, not far from the large village itself, is the Monastery of Our Lady of Vrestenitissa. Its location is so idyllic and lush that it was intentionally chosen as the site of the monastery dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which at some point appropriately took on the title of Vrestenitissa.
Mystras served as the precipitous fortress that Mt. Taygetos offered to the last defenders of a thousand-year-old empire. Two centuries of classical Greek brilliance is reflected from its peak where free philosophers such as Georgios Gemistos or Plithon and fateful Emperors such as Konstantinos Palaiologos stood. Seven brilliant examples of ecclesiastic architecture and Byzantine art still stand within the walls of the citadel, all of which are accessible to visitors.