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Monastery of Malevi
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Monastery of Malevi

The monastery of Malevi or the Dormition of the Virgin, is one of the three most important monasteries in the Kynouria province, together with Loukou and Elona.

It is built on Mount Parnon, dubbed ‘Second Mount Athos’ and ‘Mount Athos of Southern Greece’, both because Christians from Mount Athos immigrated here during the reign of Emperor Constantine IV (668-685) and because no other Greek mountain has so many monasteries.

The monastery is located on a wooded slope surrounded by fir trees, 920 metres above sea level, in the Agios Petros region, eight kilometres from the town of Xerokampi, 47 kilometres from Tripoli and 30 kilometres from Astros.

The monastery was originally located high on Mount Parnon at the site of Pournaria, near a water spring where the remains of buildings are still visible. This location was abandoned in the early seventeenth century. According to local tradition, however, the monastery first moved to Kanaloi near the Malevos peak, a site named after the water canals built by shepherds to water their herds.

The monastery was eventually moved from Kanaloi because of the harsh winters. The heavy snowfall would cut off the monastery for months, and the monks starved. All of the monks died one winter, the last of them leaving a note saying “I am dying amidst the roar of the fir trees”. The monastery was subsequently abandoned, and another was built lower on the mountain.

Another narrative relating to the original monastery states that the Malevi monks found half frozen and cared for a young man called Giorgis. When Giorgis recovered, he admitted to being a sinner, and asked to be allowed to stay in the monastery as a novice monk. In winter, he refused to follow the other monks to the monastery’s winter quarters and froze to death.

If the Malevi monastery was founded more or less at the same time as the other nearby monasteries, then it probably dates from at least 1000 (early eleventh century). Apart from the narrative on the monastery’s foundation and dissolution cited above, no historical evidence on the earliest monastery exists. The earliest date in Malevi’s history, 717, is mentioned by Kofiniotis, without supporting evidence, and repeated by Dalezios.

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