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Hiking near ancient Gortys

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The farmland surrounding ancient Gortys belongs to the monks of the nearby Prodhrómou Monastery, who have carved a path along the Gorge of the Loúsios between Áyios Andhréas and the monastery. It’s about a 40min walk up a well-graded trail following the stream. The monastery, stuck on to the cliff like a swallow’s nest, is plainly visible a couple of hundred metres above the path. There are no more than five monks here, and one of them will show visitors the tiny frescoed katholikón (closed 2–5pm). Strict dress rules apply, with blanket-like clothing provided if necessary. The monastery is also accessible by an asphalt road that makes a circuitous 7km descent from the Stemnítsa–Dhimitsána road to a parking lot and newish chapel, and then it’s a further descent on foot along a steep path.

Beyond Prodhrómou the path continues clearly to the outlying, well-signed monasteries of Paleá and then Néa Filosófou on the opposite side of the valley. The older (Paleá), dating from the tenth century, is merely a ruin and blends into the cliff against which it is flattened. The newer monastery (Néa, seventeenth century) has been restored and recently expanded considerably, but retains frescoes from 1663 inside; there is a permanent caretaker monk. From here, paths follow the west then east banks of the river, to reach Dhimitsána via Paleohóri in under two hours.

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