From “Astros” at a distance of about 67 km is the holy monastery of Elona, which as a symbol of Tsakonia is hung and inaccessible on the red rock.
In the route of Astros Leonidi there are many enchanting beaches that “the sun and the sea of the Argolic” are in their grandeur.
From Astros Leonidio is at a distance of about 50 km.
From the “Mount Parnon and Moustos Wetland Management Agency, 2015. Guide for the protected area of Mount Parnon and Moustos Wetland. Nature, Culture, Ecotourism. Astros of Arcadia
Parnonas: the “Mount Athos” of Southern Greece
Dozens of monasteries of Parnonas, sometimes rooted in steep cliffs, roots of the faith and soul of Christianity and sometimes on hills, ascension to the uncle and the dream. Founded for many centuries, they are a complex part of the history of the place, high examples of architecture, places of mental euphoria and rejoicing, paths of redemption and hope.
The mountain of Parnon was named “Second Mount Athos” or “Mount Athos of Southern Greece”, because Christianized inhabitants from Mount Athos moved to it during Constantine Pogonatos (668-685 AD), but also because no other Greek mountain presents such a large concentration of monasteries. The Christian presence on Mount Parnon up to its coastal shores is uninterrupted from the early Christian years (4th-7th century AD). This is confirmed by Christian archeological finds located in the wider area of Thyrea. From the descent of the Slavs and then in the region follow the so-called “dark times”. Despite the devastation caused by the Avar Slavic invasion, the Greek population did not perish, while according to findings it flourished again in the 11th century. This is evidenced by the architectural sculptural members that are exhibited in the hall of the Library of Vourvourou. Remains of the Paleolithic Period are preserved on Parnonas (late Byzantine years) as well as findings that reveal a building boom in the early Ottoman years (1600 AD). Some of the monasteries in the wider area of Parnon, both in Arcadia and in Laconia are presented in the following pages.
Holy Monastery of Panagia Eloni or Elonas:
Perched at an altitude of 650 m. In the ravine of Dafnonas, on the imposing red rock, is one of the most beautiful and famous monasteries in Arcadia. It is 17 km from Leonidio and is located on the road Leonidio – Kosma. Many interpretations have been made for the name of the monastery. In some of them “Elona” is attributed to the place where the icon of the Virgin Mary was found or the monastery was built. In an official mention of the monastery by the Patriarchate, during the awarding of its Stavropegian privilege, it is defined “in the location of Elonis called”. According to another theory, the monastery owes its name to an old icon, which – according to tradition – was transferred to Tsakonia from the Swamp of Laconia. The monastery, according to written testimonies, was founded at the beginning of the 16th century.
It suffered a savage invasion during the resettlement of the Turks and the general testing of the place by the Venetian-Turkish military operations in 1715 AD. However, its Stavropegian privilege is renewed and it has been flourishing ever since. During the Revolution, the monastery was a safe haven for civilians while offering much of its property to the struggle. Only at the beginning of the 20th century. the monastery is revived with the presence of many monks and has flourished ever since. Wide stairs lead to the arched entrance of the monastery, while an open corridor leads to the second gate. Both gates are covered with sprinklers. From this point the corridor has on the right the towering red rock and on the left the steep ravine. It leads to the central area of the monastery, with the internal buildings being shaped on different levels (three-storey buildings). The galleries and the stairs give a rhythm of movement and inner life to the building complex. The loggias-verandas and the balconies offer a great view to Dafnonas. The katholikon, building of 1809 AD. is an arched basilica adapted to the pit of the rock. It has a built-in plaque with a founding inscription according to which the church of 1809 occupies the place of an older one. The visitor deserves to stand on the ornate wood-carved iconostasis made of walnut. In the center of the north side of the church is the two-storey marble belfry of 1831 AD. The shrine is dominated by the portable icon of the Virgin Mary, made of wax and mastic on wood, which according to tradition is the work of the Evangelist Luke. Its history is inextricably linked to the founding of the monastery. Dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, it celebrates on the 15th of August, on the 23rd of August, on the 21st of November (Entrances of the Virgin with the procession of the icon in Leonidio), but also on the 1st Sunday of October of each year (restoration of the stolen image).