The monastery is located near Kyllini in a sensational landscape that strikes the visitor with its simplicity. It was built during the 12th century and the origins of its name derive from the famous Monastery of Vlacherna in Constantinople, to which it was dependant. However, time and disasters have destroyed important records of the monastery, a fact that provokes a dispute upon the details of its establishment. The temple of the monastery is a blending, a merge of western as well as eastern architectural elements.
River Neda is one of the few rivers of Greece that still offer an environment so virgin and untouched by human activity. Besides, it is –maybe- the only Greek river that has been given a female name, in honor of the nymph Neda, a deity of the waters. Neda, according to the Greek Mythology, had bathed the infant Zeus in the river Gortynios (Lousios), together with the nymphs Theisoa and Agno. The river crosses a narrow canyon of unimaginable beauty, creating an almost mystical landscape, with waterfalls and natural pools spread between wooded hill slopes, under the shade of huge plane-trees, oaks, fig-trees and thick bushy vegetation
THE TEMPLE OF APOLLO EPIKOUROS
Almost hidden in a wild and imposing landscape, on a narrow terrace of Mt. Kotilion, at 3.710 ft., 14 km southwest of Andritsena, is the magnificent temple of Apollo Epikouros. At this site called Bassae during ancient times, in the 7th B.C. century, the citizens of the small state of Figaleia (Arcadia\Peloponnese) had established the temple of Apollo, whom they worshiped with the title “Epikourios” – helper and deliverer in sickness or war. The title was given during the war with the Spartans, around 650 B.C. The temple is considered one of the best preserved classic monuments all over Greece, together with the temple of Ifestos in the ancient Agora of Athens, and takes easily the first place in Peloponnese, for the beauty and harmony of its structure.
THE FOLOI FOREST (CENTAURIAN FOREST)
Moving east, towards Olympia, you will meet the river Alfios, from where you will continue the course towards Lala and the high plateau of Foloi (or Pholoi), on Mt. Erymanthos. The vast forest of Foloi is a fabulous place, famous for the myths and legends that are connected with it in the memories of the people. This is the site of the kingdom of Pholus –son of Silenos and the nymph’s Melia- the kind and virtuous Centaur that gave shelter to Hercules, when he was hunting the Erymanthian Bore. It is considered the oldest European self planted beech and oak forest and the biggest of the Balkans. It spreads for almost 33.000 square meters, on Mt. Pholoi, at 688 m altitude, while the rivers Erymanthos and Ladon create a unique and enchanting environment. The area is recognized as protected parkland from network NATURA 2000.