Road Trip Peloponnese to Agia Theodora Church in Vasta

During our Peloponnese road trip, we visited the small, but impressive Agia Theodora Church in Vasta. The tiny church in the Peloponnese region of Arcadia, lies on a mountainside at a height of 850 m.

Interesting places to visit in Greece, Agia Theodora Church.
One of the thousands of special places in Greece, is the miraculous church of Agia Theodora in the Peloponnese.

Are you planning a road trip in Greece? If you are interested in a road trip through the Peloponesse, we have made one, and you can read about it in our blogpost >> Road Trip Peloponnese.

Route Megalopoli to Agia Theodora Church

Greece places to visit, Vasta Greece. How to get to Agia Theodora Church.
Route from Megalopolis to the Agia Theodora Church in Arcadia, Peloponnese.

Legend of Agia Theodora

The church is called miraculous because 17 oak trees with a height of 30 meters grow through the roof of the stone chapel, while there are no traces of tree roots. The trees appear to be growing right out of the tiled roof.

The local Greek legend to explain the phenomenon is that a pious young girl from a nearby village in Arcadia or Messenia wanted to become a nun and therefore decided to join a monastery. She thought she could accomplish more as a monk and that’s why she disguised herself as a boy, changed her name to Theodoros and joined the monks in a male monastic community in Arcadia.

Church bells at the Saint Theodora in Vasta, Peloponnese in Greece.
Huge church bells outside of the Church of Agia Theodora.

Ancient Greek monuments you will not find in Vasta. But in Megalopoli ( a 45-minute drive from Vasta), you can visit the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Megalopoli >> Read more in the blogpost on ancient Megalopoli.

Theodora was a very dedicated “monk”, and they assigned her important missions. During serious famine in the area, she was sent to the homes of Christians to help or to collect money. This is when a woman fell in love with “him”. Theodora obviously didn’t respond to the woman’s love and that’s when “he” was accused of leaving her pregnant. For reasons unknown, Theodora didn’t expose her real gender. Instead, she was taken to Vasta by the authorities where she was beheaded.

Just before her execution she had prayed to God to turn her hair into trees, her blood into a river to water the trees, and her body into a temple.

Vasta church in Peloponnese Peninsula.
Another place where you can light a candle, in the yard of Agia Theodora Church.

The southern Peloponnese consists of three “legs”, of which the second one is called the Mani, which was until recently an isolated area, mainly accessible by sea. The Mani was known for its fierce family clans living in tower houses, and pirates. You can read more about our Mani Road Trip in the blogpost >> One Week in the Mysterious Mani.

Agia Theodora Vasta
The facade of the little church in Arcadia Greece.

Greek Temple in honor of Agia Theodora

The authorities who were shocked when they discovered that the beheaded person was actually a woman and thus had been accused wrongfully, decided to build a chapel in honor of her. Just when it was built in the 10th century, trees started to grow out of its roof and a small river was formed at the foot of the chapel.

An hour drive from Vasta you will find the enchanting Medieval village of Karytaina, built high on a rock with a castle on top. We spent a day exploring Karytaina during our Peloponnese road trip. It’s one of those traditional Greek villages excelling in the beauty of its architecture, history, location, and views. Read more in my blogpost on Karytaina.

For families with kids visiting Athens we created the blog post 50 Things to do in Athens with Kids with many inspiring and relaxing activities.

Looking at the chapel it’s indeed a miracle that the walls of the chapel have been able to withstand the weight and the growth of the trees through them for over thousand years. Even experts don’t have an explanation for this.

Little Greek church in Vasta, Arcadia in the Peloponnese.
Trees are growing from the roof of the Agia Theodora Church.

The weight of the trees on the roof is estimated to be around nine tons. This is four times the weight that would normally be tolerated by a roof like the one of the little church. Imagine how much the roof has to endure during stormy weather, snow and rain!

The Agia Theodora Church is very small and sober on the inside. We went inside to light a candle, and to take a look at the faded frescoes and some icons.

Icons inside the miraculous church in Vasta.

Are you planning a road trip in Greece? If you are interested in a road trip through the Peloponesse, we have made one, and you can read about it in our blogpost >> Road Trip Peloponnese.

Road Trip Peloponnese

The little church is indeed very special, and the legend makes it even more interesting. Every year it attracts thousands of Greek orthodox pilgrims and some foreign tourists. In October, when we were there, we only saw a few people.

When you happen to be in the region of Arcadia during your Peloponnese road trip, it’s definitely worth to visit the miraculous little Agia Theodora Church in Vasta.

The Church of Agia Theodora doesn’t see many foreign visitors.

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