1849 – Skiti Andreou: a walk around the main church

andreou-plan-nr-1The main church (E on the plan), build in 1900, was until recently the biggest church on the Balkan. It is enormous and ment for large groups of pilgrims, like the ones you see below on the historic picture from 1900.andreou-lunch-in-the-courtyard-beginning-1900dscn7041-large-kopieThe same spot as the black and white picture above, seen from building J on the plan.

In this post I will show you the pictures that I took while walking around the church.dscn7012-largeThis is a picture of the most ruined wings of the North/West side of the skete, shot behind building J. If you turn your head to the right you will see this part of the NW wing:dscn7013-largeNW wing of skiti Andreoudscn7014-largeAnd here we see the NW wall of the main church on your right hand. Behind pilgrim Jizte in his blue shirt is the gate to the guest quarters and right from him is the entrance to the trapeza in de basement of the church.dscn7029-largeOn this photo I already walked around the corner of the church and took a shot of the backside. dscn7030-largeAbove the arches this text shows up, which I could not read/translate.dscn6981-largeWhen you turn the next corner at the back of the building and go down a bit, you see renovation activities of the South/East wing and again a part of the back of the church.  dscn7032-largeA view of the South side of the church with the bronze bells at spot N and the entrance (A) on the left.dscn7031-largeHere you see another text inscribted in the wall: it must be in Russian. Who can help translating these texts?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe South wall of the church and bells – N (photo by Jitze Bakker)dscn7033-largeAn iron door in Andreou.dscn7010-largeThese are the steps that lead to the main church, with the gate A in the background. Notice the monk with the wooden leg, who slept that night on a bench in the corridor of the guesthouse!dscn7015-largeInside the main churchdscn7045-largedscn7045dscn7046-largeThe Tomb of an important member of the skete: Hegumen (=Abbot) Hieromonachos Vissarion/Bessarion (thanks Bertinos).dscn7047-largeRinging is the bells is not without danger: protection is needed, to prefend damage to the ears, even in monastic life!dscn7049-large

dscn6953-trapeza-2-large                    dscn6952-trapeza-large

Time for a good meal in the basement of the church.

Wim, 21/9

Posted in ruins, Skiti Andreou, trip 2015 | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

1848 – art: Markos Kampanis

kampanis-summit-in-4-monotypesMount Athos, as seen through the eyes of contemporary Greek artist, Markos Kampanis.kampanis-mural-vatopediHe is known for his murals in Simonas Petras but also for this large painting on the wall near the main gate of Vatopediou. During 2013 Markos Kampanis was commissioned to decorate the main entrance hall of Vatopaidi Monastery. The mural painted with silicate paints, shows the main monastic compound together with its cells and dependencies (Sk. Andreou on the left) on Mount Athos.
Kampanis is an artist, born in Athens in 1955. He has studied painting in London at Saint Martin’s School of Art. He works as a painter, print maker, book illustrator and church-mural artist.
kampanis-karyes-behind-protaton kampanis-karyes

Karyes, painted in his typical style,  a sort of contemporary cubism.
Vatopediou seen from the archondariki.
kampanis-drawing-mylopotamosHe is also a gifted drawing artist. Sketch of Mylopotamos. When we visited this beautiful place in 2009 we were invited to see the modest but very nice library of Mylopotamos.
mylopotamos-library-joachimIn the library Joachim of Mylopotamos showed us books but also linocuts by Kampanis.
kampanis-mylopotamos-linocut-printKampanis made all kinds of linocuts. This one of Mylopotamos belongs to the collection of Mylopotamos itself. At the moment Markos Kampanis shows his work at an exhibition in the US.

Herman Voogd

Posted in 02 Vatopedi, art, Mylopotamos | Tagged | Leave a comment

1847 – The story of a young Dutchman, how Quinten became Andreas

In the summer holidays of 1994 one of the pupils of Dutch teacher Raymond Geldermans made a big decision. It was a hot summer in the Netherlands. Nelson Mandela had just become the first black president in South Africa. The first war in Chechnya broke out and Great Britain was finally connected with the Continent by a tunnel. In the meantime a Dutch boy travelled to the Holy Mountain.
After the summer holidays when the school started up, one boy was missing in the fourth class of the Gymnasium in Deurne. It was Quinten, then only fifteen years old. No one in the school knew about his plans, it came as a huge surprise, for the teachers and even for the rector. He had left for Karakalou, so informed the abbess of the Greek Orthodox monastery in Asten, Holland. In the same year also his mother chose for the monastic life in Kolomna in Russia; she lives as a monk until today. They were inspired by the monastery in Asten to the monastic life.karakalou-courtyard
The court yard of Karakalou in the fall of 2013 (picture by Bas Kamps)
Nobody had known of his desire to become a monk. Raymond Geldermans often wondered if his stories about the Holy Mountain and his visits sparkled off Quintens interest.karakalou-april-1998The katholikon of Karakalou (picture by Raymond Geldermans, april 1998).
The abbott of Karakalou got into contact with Raymond Geldermans. He inquired about Quintens education in the Netherlands. From there on more intensive conversations followed and they cumulated in a personal invitation to visit the novice and the abbot.athos-academy
Quinten got his education in the Athos Academy, a building attached to the skete of Andreou, the Serail, which is situated very close to Karyes. The Academy was established in 1842.
Raymond Geldermans went in april 1998, with his son Micha, to the monastery of Karakalou. He was given a VIP-treatment. As Geldermans remarked he was received by the abbot as a second Aristoteles for his Alexander. The abbot certainly knew how to appreciate a teacher. He could visit every hidden corner in the monastery; from library to refectory, from candle workshop to wine cellar.quinten-karakalouQuinten in the library. The library holds 279 manuscripts, including 42 parchments. Of these parchments the codex Karakalou 11, a so-called lectionarium, is of very great importance and value. In the collection of the library are included a total of 2,500 printed books. To his surprise Geldermans found out that there was a certain system in the collection (picture by Raymond Geldermans, april 1998).geldermans-and-quintenEating with Quinten in the refectory (picture by Micha Geldermans, april 1998). When Quinten said farewell to the worldly life he was given a new monastic name: Andreas.winecellar-karakalou-1998
A meeting with Quinten in the monastic wine cellar. (picture by Micha Geldermans, april 1998).
Quinten became head of the wood workshop and he developed quickly as skilled wood worker. He did important and necessary repair works on the monastery. After many years Quinten found out that the monastic life did not fulfill his deepest wishes. He was still very young of course and needed to discover more of the outside world. The wise abbot suggested that he should take up a study in theology in Moscow. So after six years on Athos he went to Russia. There a new life for Andreas started, so we were told. He married a Russian girl and the couple got three children. Later they moved to Belgium.
Later maybe more on Quintens extraordinary walk through life if we have more information.

Thanks to Raymond Geldermans for the pictures and the story,
Herman Voogd & Bas Kamps

Posted in 11 Karakalou, people | Tagged , | 1 Comment

1846 – 10 September: forest fire near Chilandariou

Yesterday morning at 7.29 h. fire, reportedly caused by lightning,  raged in a forest area in the region of Hilandar Monastery on Mount Athos.  The efforts to extinguish the fires by 18 fire figthers with 6 vehicles, togeter with monks, pilgrims and two helicopters, were hindered by the weather conditions, because of the strong winds (7 Beaufort), blowing in the Mount Athos area these days. According to the blog Athoszone.com the fire is under control now.

The direction of fire spread towards the border of Mount Athos near cape Arapis (West, Southwest), so that not Hilandar, nor any other monastic settlement was affected.

chilandariou-fire-sept-16Wim, 11/9

Posted in 04 Chilandariou, nature | Tagged , | Leave a comment

1845 – skiti Andreou September 2015

In this post I will show you some pictures from the backside of skiti Andreou, where not many people go. The pictures are from our last pilgrimage in September last year.andreou-plan-nrsThe plan of skiti Andreou or Serail:

A. Entrance B. Athonias school C. Well/phiale D. Garden E. the main church from 1900 F.  Trapeza or dining hall in the basement of the church G. Guesthouse or Archontariki H. Graveyard I. Chapel on the topfloor – gangway on the groundfloor J. old chapel with wall paintings K. the ruined wing L. the iron gate from 1896 M. back entrance N. bells

We start this blog at building G, the guesthouse and I walked in the direction of D.dscn6985-largeThe entrance to the guesthouse (G)dscn7048-largeThe rules of the skete, written by elder Ephrahim.dscn7023-largeThe corridor in the guesthousedscn7022-largeView from our room: on the right the church and left is the graveyard (H).dscn6984-largeThe graveyard (H) with a large monument: in the background a small church that is being renovated.dscn6983-largeThe monument from 1902 in the graveyard.dscn6986-largeThe church seen from the graveyard (H)dscn6987-largeThe backdoor, leaving the guesthouse, at M on the plan above. dscn6989-largeThe backdoor seen from outside. This part of the building is in a bad shape. The guesthouse lies on your left.dscn6988-largeThis picture is taken near spot M in the direction of K. All these buildings are almost in ruins.dscn6990-largeLooking in the opposite direction: the guesthouse with balconies.dscn7026-largePicture from the balcony towards spot Kdscn7028-largePicture from the same spot, with surroundingsdscn7027-largeThe opposite direction, agian a picture shot from the balcony.dscn6991-largeNear spot K: here only the church on the top is renovated, the rest of the buildings are not!dscn6992-largeA lot of waste lies squattered in the gardens: a barrel and wheels of a train?dscn6993-largedscn6994-largeBuilding and door from 1898. The main church was finished in 1900.dscn6995-largeOld balconies rest on rusty iron bars…dscn6996-largeLooking back at building K and the guesthouse.dscn7001-largedscn7003-largeNow we arrive at spot L on the plan: again, all buildings are not in use and almost in ruins here.dscn7004-largeAn iron gate from 1896: this part is two years older than the buildings in the previous pictures.dscn7004aDetail of the gate with an small iconSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLooking back at the iron gate (photo by Jitze Bakker)dscn7007-large On the other side of the iron gate: another ruined building (D on the plan)dscn7006-largeWith rusted iron doorsdscn7005-largeand a building without floors….skiti-andreou1Building D is in the right corner below on this aerial picture of the Serail.

Wim, 10/9

Posted in ruins, Skiti Andreou, trip 2015 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

1844 – Raymond Geldermans’ travels to the Holy Mountain

Sometimes a chain of unexpected events leads to a surprising outcome. That is how most of the inventions arise. A former colleague of mine wanted a fresh start on the labour market after her world tour and after the birth of her son. I could link her to a lunchroom where she worked a couple of weeks. While serving in the lunchroom she overheard a conversation of two guests who were talking about a lecture on Athos. She knew about my fascination for the Monks Republic and send me a message with a leaflet about the lecture. It happened to be on the next day in an old hospital building, now an exclusive housing project for the elderly. 0102-portret-r-geldermans-7-april-1998-with-father-iakovos-in-ivironThis is how I (Bas) first met Raymond Geldermans, here with father Iakovos from Iviron in 1998. He gave his card and a couple of months later Herman and I had a long and interesting meeting with him in his apartment.

Raymond Geldermans has a lifelong fascination for the Holy Mountain. As a young man in the sixties of the last millennium he travelled to Athos the first time with his uncle. He studied Classical Languages and Modern Greek. He worked as a highschool teacher, rector and sworn translator in the southern part of Holland, where he still lives. He was chairman of a society called Pokrof, dedicated to the Byzantine rite in the Dutch Catholic church.

His first visit was in 1960, and five more would follow. In the sixties it was highly recommendable for a catholic, as he is, to go personally to the cardinal, the highest catholic in the country (the cardinal was called Bernard Alfrink) for a letter of recommendation. With this recommendation mr. Geldermans acquired a letter from Patriach Athenagoras from Istanbul. This document gave him full access without any restrictions to all monasteries. This is how the diamonitirion looked like, in the early sixties.

In those days there was a train from Utrecht to Athens. The 56 year old train ticket is still in his archive. So it was quite an intense travel experience for the young adult. Later it became much quicker and more comfortable to travel by air. Despite his responsible duties as rector of a Gymnasium (classical secondary education in the Netherlands) he found time to continue his travels, mostly during the holidays.

So the philosophical question is whether the chain of events that lead to our meeting were merely accidental beads on a chain or was it destined to happen this way? Anyway this is an airplane called Mount Athos. Raymond Geldermans took it in 1972. 0001-mount-athos-olympic-airways-may-1995It was the Olympic Airways B 727-284 (Mount Athos).

Later we found a picture of the unfortunate end of the airplane when it was scrapped. Its cockpit lays down helplessly like an empty egg shell.

Planes have their lifecycle but the real mountain is still there. 0059-between-dafni-and-simonos-petras-januar-1992This is how it looked in January 1992 when Geldermans travelled between Dafni and Simonos Petras.

Raymond Geldermans  is a keen photographer and has taken thousands of pictures on his many travels. He gave us about 120 to digitalise (to start with, we hope). He uses the slides for his lectures on Athos. He has given many lectures for lay audiences. His keen sense of observation (he once saw medieval manuscripts with texts by Euripides wrapped in flower pots), his fascination for religion, his knowledge of the Greek language and his teaching skills make him a real storyteller. In the coming weeks and months we will show some more of his pictures and share some of his stories.0005-ouranoupolis-embarkment-augustus-1960The embarkment from Ouranopolis in 1960 (picture by Raymond Geldermans).0006-collecting-the-fare-augustus-1960A reasonable fare had to be payed to the ferryman during the crossing to the Holy Mountain. (picture by Raymond Geldermans, 1960).

Herman Voogd & Bas Kamps

Posted in 03 Iviron, 13 Simonos Petras, Ouranoupolis | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

1843 – Articles about Athos and Putin in Time Magazine and The Spectator

Time Magazine 5th September 2016Time Magazine 12-19 September 2016: an article about the pilgrimage of Putin to Athos May this year and about the role of Orthodoxy in the present Russian governement and society (available at your local bookshop or Blendle).

Here an article about Putins interest in the Holy Mountain in the Spectator,  a weekly British conservative magazine.


Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) visits the St Panteleimon Monastery on Mount Athos, in Karyes on May 28, 2016. Putin, who has often talked about his strong Orthodox faith, will join celebrations for the 1,000th anniversary of the Russian presence at the ancient, all-male monastic community of Mount Athos. The visit, Putin’s first to the EU since December, comes at a low ebb in relations between Russia and Europe over the conflict in Ukraine that broke out in 2014, with sanctions still in force against Moscow. / AFP / POOL / Alexei Druzhinin (Photo credit should read ALEXEI DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images

Wim, 5/9 Herman 8/9

Posted in news, Orthodoxy, people | Tagged , | 3 Comments