Mermaids, creatures of fascination

Mermaid Stheno at the harbour of Paralio Astros

Mermaids were creatures who have always fascinated people all over the world. The people's intense desire to make these creatures real, not only has created legends and stories but also recorded sightings about their existence. Some recent documents, reported mermaid sightings in March and May 2013 in Greenland Sea and in Israel.

Mermaids have appeared in many cultures since 1000 BC, in Asia, Europe and Africa. They are connected with natural disasters such as floods, storms or that they can cause shipwrecks and drownings. Other times they are presented as benevolent creatures who fall in love with humans.

Mermaids have been the favourite subject of arts and literature and we often see them in movies, books, paintings even in animation films and comics.
Mermaid statues decorate cities and towns all over the world with the most famous the little mermaid in Copenhagen.
In Greece there are mermaid statues in Paralio Astros, Poros, Spetses, Syros and Thassos.

Μermaid Stheno (Σθενώ) decorates the harbour of Paralio Astros and the visitors can't leave without taking a picture of her. Her name means power, so mermaid Stheno symbolised the power of sea.

In Greek mythology there were three mermaid sisters, Stheno, Evriali and Medusa. Stheno was the oldest and the fiercest of them all. She had killed more men than both her sisters together. Stheno and Evriali were immortal while Medusa was mortal.
Mermaid statue in Madrid


Monastery of Elona

The monastery of Elona nestled on the rock
The monastery of Elona is one of the most picturesque and well-known one in Greece. It is located near Leonidio, 66.5 km from Paralio Astros and 107 km from Tripoli in the canyon of Dafnon. It is famous for its location, literally nestled on a vertical and impressive red rock, it excites the visitor giving the impression that it floats in the air. Its position offers magnificent view to the area.
The monastery was founded at the beginning of the 16th century. The story says that some shepards saw a small light on the rock every night. Some people then climbed there and saw the icon of Virgin Mary holding the Holy infant hung on a piece of wood on the rock and a lit candle.
The temple of the monastery was reconstructed on the ruins of the old former temple in 1809. The stone belfry was built in 1831. It is believed that the icon of Virgin Mary of Elona which is kept there, was painted by the apostole Lukas (one of the 70 icons he painted). It is considered miraculous by the pilgrims and it is entirely made by silver. In the temple there are holy relics and heirlooms, euagellies, a lot of dedications and a nice wooden carved partition. It is not known when it was madeand it is characterised by very subtle work and imagination. On its parapets there are carved illustrations. Around the temple there are well-built buildings.
During the turkish occupation the monastery was plundered and burnt many times but it was of remarkable decay from 1798 to 1811. Late it was also under blooming with the contribution of the locals and of the residents of Spetses and Hydra especially after 1875 and 1900. It also had an important role during the Greek revolution in 1821.
The monastery celebrates on the 15th of August and on the novena of Virgin Mary. A lot of pilgrims flee from whole Greece and especially from Peloponnese. It has been a female monastery since 1972.


Monastery of Artokosta


Located: On the road from Agios Andreas to Prastos, 34 km from Paralio Astros.
Celebrates: On the 24th August, on the 23rd there is a special service with lots of pilgrims visiting it. The plain, pure and devout surroundings will take you away form the daily routine and will bring you closer to nature and to the tranquility of the place!
It is one of the most historic and picturesque monasteries and one of the most ancient monastery centres in Tsakonia. It is loacated in the mount Parnonas. It is dedicated to Virgin Mary, it is called Artokosta and was founded in 1617. It is surrounded by continuous buildings with loggias and small towers. In the centre there is the temple which is a cruciform one with a dome.
The old monastery
Three kilometres far from the monastery there are the ruins of the old monastery of Virgin Mary built in the 12th century. The ruins can be seen from the road. This monastery claimed to have the icon of Virgin Mary which is attributed to the Evangelist Louka. The icon which has dedications from the emperor Ioannis Palaiologos and from Ioannis Katakouzinos, is now in Italy.
The monastery boasts to have important historical files from the 18th century. In the sanctuary heirlooms and relics are kept. The monastery helped a lot during the revolution in 1821 and that was a reason it was burnt by the army of Ibrahem. Unfortunately its reconstruction took some decades where the temple was rebuilt in 1864 with expenses of 8.800 Greek drachmas. The main icons and the floor of the initial temple were preserved and the floor dates back to 1627 according to an inscription. The monastery had been a female one since 1982 which experienced a blooming but from 2012 has been male again.
It is worth mentioning that the monastery had a glebe in Agios Andreas in order to serve its proposes frm the small harbour of the beach of Agios Andreas. The Glebe of Evangelism as it is called, was built in the 16th century and it is still in great condition.