Holy Monastery of Lechova

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Location: Krioneri, Corinthia

The imposing stone entrance gate of the monastery lies at the foothill of mount Vesiza, at an elevation of 1050 meters, four kilometers from Kryoneri village in the municipality of Sikyona. The monastery is laid out around a huge plane tree that dominates the courtyard; the church, the cells of the nuns, the guesthouse, the fountain, the orchards and the old well. The original marble marquetry on the floor dates back to the 11ο -12ο century A.D. The icon of Our Lady of Lechova dates back to the 17th century and it was painted by the Zakynthian hagiographer Theodoros Papantonis or Georgantas. Monastery currently operates as a nunnery. Τhe katholikon has been recently characterized as a landmark by the Ministry of Culture. Renovation and restoration works have been carried out during the previous decade.

Kryoneri village can be found on the road that leads from Kiato to the mountains of Corinthia. A few kilometers after the village there is a junction that leads to the monastery through a wonderful drive amidst plane trees. All along the gorge, on the right shore of Elissonas stream, the road arrives to the neck of the woods, where the monastery emerges at the background surrounded by a fir forest. The origin of the name is believed to be Slav, the word Lecha means field, Lechova thus meaning prairie.

The foundation date of the monastery is unknown because there are no preserved written monuments or manuscripts. The only source for the foundation date is the katholikon, the main church and it floor.

The katholikon is a byzantine cross-in-square church, two column type with an octagonal dome supported by two columns and two piers that separate the main church from the bema. The main church is nearly square (7,20×7,25). The interior is enlightened by four small windows on the dome and three at the sanctuary. The narthex is roofed by a wooden roof and communicates with the main church by an interior door that bears relief depictions of plane leaves or acanthus. A 3.20 meters long chapel is attached on the south side of the church.

The walls are made of local stone and corner stone made of concrete sandstone, built with earth. This church has been built over the foundation of an older one. An inscription found on a porous stone, on the altar, indicates that “it was hewn in June 1716”. A restoration has been carried out at the end of the Venetian occupation (1715) and at the beginning of the second Ottoman occupation in Peloponnesus.

The marble mosaic is a very significant and rare ornament. Small colorful pieces of marble have been combined to form schemes that decorate elaborately the church. The scheme of the three rectangular shapes put in order is of a great interest. The middle one contains a green disc in the center. The two lateral rectangles have a different direction, opposite to the central one in order to give a harmonious impression. The visitor can admire the proportions, and the simplicity of this geometrical scheme. The depiction of a bird with a long neck and long, slim legs is of great interest. The bird, formed by very fine tesserae, emerges out of a deep red background.

The monastery library has scarce manuscripts and documents. In a past listing, there were Turkish documents concerning the property and the rights of the monastery. They were all burnt or lost, except for two manuscripts, a small Hagiasmatarion and a Kanonarion, document containing sacred canon law of the church and answers to relevant questions. In the General Archives of Greece there are 105 documents on the Holy Monastery of Lechova that refer to various cases and dates between the 1835-1852. The icon of Our Lady dates back to the late 17th century or early 18th.

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