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The holy Monastery of Prophet Elijas in Zaholi, in the municipality of Xylokastro- Evrostini is located at the foothills of mount Mavro, 20 kilometrs from the town of Derveni.

The new national road that leads from Corinth to Patra can take you to the monastery. At the intersection of Derveni, we take the road that leads to Rozena and Zaholi. At the village Zaholi we pass in front of the historic church of Saint Paraskevi and follow the road to Helidori for two kilometers until we reach the entrance of the monastery. Next to the entrance there are two firs and a traditional fountain.

There are many versions as to the foundation date of the monastery. According to one of them, the monastery was founded in the 10th century by monks who left Constantinople, during the byzantine iconoclasm. It is more possible though that the monastery was founded in the 14th century.

The roots of the monastery date back to the byzantine period, according to page 37 of its Code. There is a listed Soultan Firman indicating that the property of the monastery remains the same after the fall of Constantinople. It was issued by Hamid Khani in 1714. By the firman we conclude that the monastery was founded before 1453. There is another testimony, though, attesting that the foundation/restoration of the monastery was conducted in 1616.

The monastery had initially four sides. Byzantine cells (with vaults and arches) were built to its four sides, while its katholikon, in the same style, is dedicated to Prophete Elijas Thesthitos. Today, the monastery forms the Greek letter Π. On the right and the left sides are the cells, the storerooms and the basements. The katholikon is located at the center. It is a simple basilica with arches, its dimensions been 7,70×7,40 meters. The decoration of the church was carried out with beautiful mural paintings and great byzantine icons. What presents a great interest is the gilded wooden carved altarscreen.

The monastery had not been changed until the earthquake of 1720 which cause severe damage. During the winter of 1740 it suffered more serious damage because of the weather conditions. The Katholikon collapsed. The restoration of the monastery bgan in 1741.

The new monastery was built on the foundation of the old one. The actual construction contains cells on its three sides while an enclosure was built on the east side. 1840 was a difficult winter. The enclosure collapsed. The monastery was built in the plan of Basilica. The katholikon contained a wooden carved altarscreen. The icons were painted in 1758 by a Cretan deacon named Athanasios.

During the Ottoman occupation the monastery operated as a secret school of Zacholi and the surrounding villages. The monastery contributed financially and with supplies to the Greek revolution.

Until 1949, it was a male monastery. In 1950 the monastery is transformed to a nunnery. In 2000, a fire in the surrounding forest burned the monastery and the significant historic archive was lost. Only the Code is saved.

#mythicalpeloponnese

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