Since its founding in 1796, the Kalograion Monastery, or “Monastery of the Nuns,” has been a female-only Greek Orthodox monastery, housing hundreds of nuns through the years.
This unique complex is home to a library with several rare manuscripts and a room displaying rare icons, sacred vessels, clergy robes, and the mortal relics of various saints. Slightly more unusual for a place of worship, Kalograion also produces the famous Kalamata silk scarves, known to be among the finest in the world.
Within the monastery, you can visit the room where the nuns work to cultivate silk and a weaving room where they hand-make various textiles for sale, most notably the Kalamata silk scarves that have won numerous international awards. Unfortunately, the last nun that knew how to weave died a few years ago and did not pass on the legacy of weaving to the younger nuns, leaving behind unfinished pieces on the looms. The nuns will welcome anybody who would like to stay with them to complete the pieces and teach them.
Throughout its history, the monastery has also served as a local charity and as a place of refuge, coming to the aid of the local population during the Ottoman occupation, the German/Italian occupation, the Greek Civil War, and after the devastating earthquake of 1986.
The complex’s main building is rectangular and surrounds a central courtyard filled with orange trees. It has a church integrated into it and also houses the nuns’ living areas. The monastery was built on the ruins of an abandoned 13th-century church, and some of the remains can be seen near the main altar.
Know Before You Go
Modest clothing is recommended to show respect when visiting the monastery grounds. For men, shorts, sleeveless shirts, and sandals are frowned upon. Women's shoulders should not be shown in church, and skirts and dresses should at a minimum come below the knee. Visitors should keep their feet on the ground when seated as it is considered insulting for feet to face holy images.
Each year the monastery celebrates the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14, Saint Constantine and Helen day on May 21, and St. Helen’s individual feast day on August 1.