St. Theodora's Chapel – Arcadia, Greece - Atlas Obscura

St. Theodora's Chapel

Arcadia, Greece

Seventeen oak trees sprout from the roof and walls of this tiny chapel without any visual evidence of roots. 


In a gully near Vasta village in Central Peloponese, St Theodora’s tiny chapel dating from the 11th or the 12th century is certainly a miracle of nature, and for the faithful, a sign of God’s power.  

In 2003, a geophysical investigation presented at the 4th Symposium of Archaeometry in Greece proved that the roots of the trees enveloping the structure followed the gaps existing inside the stone wall of the chapel, thus reaching the ground to be watered by the spring in the foundations.

Amazingly, although the building is under considerable pressure due to the weight of the trees and the stresses created by the roots running through its walls, it has survived for hundreds of years with no damage to the structure or to the trees. 

According to local legend, Theodora lived in the 10th century in the town of Vasta. When the area was raided by bandits, she diguised herself as a man to join the defense. In the battle that followed she was fatally wounded, and just before her death asked God to change her body into a church, her hair into a forest, and her blood into the water that will feed the trees.

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June 23, 2013

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