Trip to Mount Athos                       May 2008

The boat for the Eastern monasteries at Ierissos

The mobile office of the Holy Executive of the Holy Mountain. They issue your Diammoniterion (pernut to stay) if you are on the list.

The long "thumb" of the Holy Mountain, the northward peninsular which is almost uninhabited

The tip of the peninsular

Looking back to the tip

Shore-side buildings of Hilandari monastery

An ancient arsenal

First view of Esfigmenou Monastery

Coming in to Vatopedi Monastery

Panorama from the jetty

The central cross-roads of the monastery - treasury and office building

with the main church (Katholikon)l to the right

Our bedroom with four beds

..........and an amazing ceiling

starting off to walk, unsuccessfully, to Zografou Monastery

beehives and distant view of Vatopedi

Sloping courtyard in Vatopedi

The mosaic underside of the dome

Dinner (vegetarian; always very fresh and very good) on our first day

Visiting Roumanian bishop with his entourage

Wall plaque of great antiquity

Staircase to the Guest House (right)

Vatopedi, and many other monasteries, have a large current programme of building and restoration work

Second day - Walk to Pantocrator Monastery

The community shop in a recently restored building

Pause by a dry fountain (right)

Pantocrator appears in view

Signposting on the Holy Mountain is a bit erratic, though the British Friends of Mount Athos are making efforts to improve it (as here) and also to keep the footpaths clear

A ruined aqueduct

View of Mount Athos from the belvedere at Pantocrator

Entrance with very ancient door

Interesting roof and balcony

Starting back by the forest path alongside the coast

.... with more views of Mount Athos

Vatopedi comes in sight

Icons in the outer narthex at Vatopedi

We were kindly shown the Monastery treasures (which are not allowed to be photographed)

but we could photograph their magnificent collection of clocks

Antique lock for the door

Stunning floor tiles and carpets

The mechanism for the Monastery clock, made in London in 1595. The clocks are set to "Mount Athos time" where sunset is 12 o'clock; they are reset when the time of sunset is more than an hour away from 12.

The present mechanism was made in Vienna
Third day - Walk to Esfigmenou Monastery

Setting out from Vatopedi

The first 200 metres is along the sea wall, followed by this ascent.

A dry fountain - you need to carry water on Mount Athos!

Spring honeysuckle and stunning coastal views

with occasional reminders of the outside world......

The path turns inland up a dry river bed

Many flowers, shrubs and small trees on this route

One of the kalderimi - paths for mules and people made from carefully-laid stones

The boundary marker for Vatopedi

Good signposts today

First view of the schismatic monastery of Esfigmenou

Vine-covered arbours in th monastery

The monastery walls fall almost sheer into the sea


Back at Vatopedi, after seven hours hard walking

The hideous fate which awaits the unrighteous.....

to be half-eaten by ravening beasts
Fourth day - Visit to Iviron and to Koutloumousiou Monasteries

View of Pantocrator from seaward, with the Skiti of Profitis Iias in the far distance.

View of Stavronikita Monastery (which we did not visit)

Iviron appears, after a bumpy passage

Lovely pattern of balconies

The church (Katholikon) (right) . This monastery does not allow non-orthodox visitors into its church

Careful conservation of rainwater

.... for the monastic fields

Wayside chapel

A friendly irridescent green beetle

Another dry fountain

Another view of Mount Athos

The courtyard of Koutloumousiou monastery

Wall painting in the narthex

Floor panel with 3 deer

The offices of the Holy Executive of the Holy Mountain in Karyes

Main street of Karyes - no madding crowd here

(left) the bell tower of the Protaton in Karyes - the church is again undergoing restoration

(above) we returned by taxi, and stopped for this distant view of Pantocrator

Mount Athos with broom

Ruins of the 18th century Athonite Academy and aqueduct above Vatopedi

Vatopedi again

(left) the very striking angel in the refectory, surmounted by an angel, all wings and mind

Fifth day - Leaving the Holy Mountain

Waiting for the boat - we took the slow ferry in order to call at all the monasteries along the northern section of the western shore

Main street of the port of Dafni, very little changed from 2001

Views from the immense height of the top deck of the ferry

First port of call - the Russian monastery of Pandeleimonos

Xenofondos Monastery

The arsenal

The arsenal of Dochiariou Monastery

The arsenal of Konstamonitou Monastery

The arsenal of Zografos Monastery (the one we never got to on the first day)

A group of enthusiatic Bulgarians singing

The ecological impact of monastic management - Mount Athos covered with trees; the brick building marks the border between the self-governing community of the Holy Mountain and the Greek state.

Immediately to the left of this, the countryside is less treed

and to the left again, there is extensive development and even fewer trees

ending up with Ouranopolis and its distinctive tower

and the pligrims and monks (all male) streaming off the boat