the village

It was in the last three decades of the 12th century that Lavrentios, a monk from Mt Athos, felt compelled to leave Megistis Lavras Abbey of Holy Mt Athos due to the heretic dominance of Varlaam and Akindinou. Upon his arrival in Pilio, 20 kilometres east of Volos and at an altitude of 600 metres (at the site where Agios Lavrentios is now located), the only building that existed was a monastery built by Benedictine monks. Owing to the gold granted to him by the Byzantine emperor Alexios Komninos, Lavrentios completed the monastery of Agios Lavrentios (St Laurence) in 1378, on the site of the previous monastery, and, naturally, named the premises after himself. This settlement would later become one of the largest village-towns of Pilio.

The village of Agios Lavrentios owes its material prosperity not only to the absence of stifling occupational forces from mountainous areas, but also to self-rule, autonomy, the unobstructed growth in population and thriving wealth during the 17th and 18th centuries. The coastlines and fields of Agria and Lehonia are split into two equal portions of land belonging to Drakia and Agios Lavrentios respectively and are separated by a great ravine. The inhabitants developed commercial and small industry activities, created links with ex-patriate Greeks and with important European centres, whilst, on a local level, the area was reinforced by the populations of Epirotes, Vlachoi and islanders.

The aforementioned developments in combination with a high concentration of scholars, artists, teachers, educated priests and the operation of schools and libraries, contributed to the creation of a local society which, up to the present day, reveals, regardless of its agricultural beginnings, an urban idiosyncracy. An amalgam of cosmopolitan temperaments is apparent not only in social expressions and ideals but also in the old noble houses and the closed courtyards that still abound in this area.

At present, about 650 years after the arrival of the first monks, Agios Lavrentios remains a village with an autonomous social life. Its preserved architectural style, the rich network of cobbled streets, the total absence of cars and its natural location in a dense forest of beech, olive and chestnut trees, create the sensation of a place which has remained unchanged throughout the centuries.