Monastery of Panagia Orthokosta

The monastery of Panagia Orthokosta (or Artokosta), one of the earliest and most characteristic of Kynouria’s monastic centres, retains its traditional appearance. Located twelve kilometres from Agios Andreas, 52 kilometres from Leonidio, and 21 kilometres from Astros, the monastery was built on a truly “pleasant and appropriate site”, as stated in a 1617 sigillion, surrounded by the tall mountain peaks of Stoi, Klinovas, and Schinos. Its north side faces the Vrasiatis valley, while the others overlook a lush landscape. A huge walnut tree shades the large flat area in front of the entrance.

The monastery belongs to the Municipality of Prastos. Currently under the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Mantineia and Kynouria, it was, in the Middle Ages, subordinate to the Archbishopric of Monemvasia and the Bishopric of Reon and Prastos.

There are two monasteries by the same name dedicated to the Virgin: the current, operational nunnery of Orthokosta (or Artokosta) and the derelict Byzantine monastery, also known as ‘Kato Panagia’, located three kilometres to the northeast, between the Byzantine town of Prastos and the modern town of Agios Andreas. The later name ‘Kato Panagia’ (Lower Panagia) was probably given to the Byzantine monastery after its monks abandoned it and moved further up the slope. Kato Panagia is located on the right hand side of the way up from Agios Andreas, in the Vrasiotis (or Vrasiatis) valley, at a site called Vrysi, after a fountain of the Ottoman period.