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






8/td>









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