The Holy Monastery of Zoodochos Pighi of Velanidia is located 6 kilometres north of Kalamata, built at an altitude of approximately 400 metres. According to the date written on the lintel, it was founded in 1679 and it owes its name to the agelong oak tree that was growing in its yard.
The Monastery played a very important role during the Greek Revolution. It was the lair and base of many important warriors, who also used it as their meeting place to discuss matters regarding the War. One remarkable fact about this Monastery is that it was the starting point for a plethora of warriors and others who rose against the Turks on March 23, 1821, with the aim to liberate Kalamata, something that they succeeded to do without shedding blood.
Unfortunately, the Monastery of Velanidia was among the many that fell prey to Ibrahim’s destructive force, who demolished it in 1825. The Monastery also had to face the destructive earthquake of 1986, when two nuns lost their lives. The Monastery was repaired with great efforts and today it operates as a convent.
The Monastery of Velanidia (long) The Monastery of Velanidia is situated at an altitude of 350 metres, a few kilometres outside of Kalamata, and can be reached from the old Kalamata – Alagonia road. Information is provided in the Patriarchal Sigillium of 1727, according to which it is a “holy and revered patriarchal stavropegic monastery, dedicating its name to the Holy Panagia Chrysopigi at the location of Velanidia”. The Katholikon of the monastery was built in 1679, as recorded in an inscription on the lintel, and is dedicated to Zoodochos Pigi. The name “Velanidia” was given to it in reference to an ancient oak, which was uprooted by the great earthquake of 1884.
The history of the monastery is rich, connected to interesting events, principally during the pre-revolutionary and revolutionary years. Many fighters found refuge here to be saved or to regroup, and used it as their base; while important chieftains such as Kolokotronis, Papaflessas and Nikitaras regularly held their meetings here in matters of the revolution. This monastery also had a hand in the freeing of Kalamata, the first Greek city to be liberated from Turkish rule. On 23 March 1821, fighters and chieftains started out from the Monastery of Velanidia, and managed to free the city without a battle. This monastery also had an active role during the German occupation, when it offered refuge to the Greek Liberation Army and the resistance groups of Taygetos. As a result the Germans bombarded and completely destroyed it in 1943.
The monastery started out as a monastery for men, but since 1966 it has been a monastery for women. During its history it has been destroyed at various times; in 1825 by Ibrahim, in 1943 by the Germans, and in more recent times in 1986, with the large earthquake of Kalamata, when it required complete reconstruction. It celebrates every year on the first Friday after Easter, while on 23 March, the anniversary of the liberation of Kalamata, a procession with the holy flame starts out from here and ends at Martiou square, where it is welcomed with festivities..