Vatopediou through the impressive main gate you see the kiosk in front of you with
a beautiful hilly backdrop. Right after the gate to the right you will find a
The large pool nowadays looks like a Japanese sanctuary. There are carefully designed piled-up loose rocks. In the middle you can see a bonsai tree. There are a variety of colourful goi carp. Surely there is a story attached to the design of the pond and especially with the Japanese influence.
This is the situation in 2009, during my first pilgrimage to Athos. It looked quite different then with a greenish basin. Certainly not clear enough for carp.
We meditated a while at the pool. Staring at the graceful moving fish. Suddenly I saw that one of them, a bright orange one, carried a cross on its forehead. We were stunned and nailed to the ground.
It is my
second experience with suddenly emerging crosses on the Holy Mountain. The first miracle one was in the freezing winter of
2014-2015 when we were exploring the waterfall behind Dafni.
A monk approaches an abundant circular bed of fallen crimson flowers under the Camellia in the courtyard of Vatopediou.
The monastery has got a rather large central square that is – unlike most squares – not levelled out but ascends to the guestrooms. It is a beautiful internal space.
A fruit tree blossoming in the cobblestone terraces as seen from the guestrooms. The stones were still wet from the previous raindrops. The colourful, red and blue, bay windows on the top floors of the monks quarters stand out. In the far corner is the icon making workshop, that we never visited.
On the left
we see the bell tower.
An interesting perspective looking down on the rooftops , from the high mediaeval stone path behind the crenels.
The main medieval tower of the monastic complex.
A more detailed view of the architecture. The pine trees rise from the hill behind the walls.
Another perspective on the tilted square that reminds me of terraces.
tower, the Byzantine bell tower built in 1427. The only Byzantine bell tower on
Mount Athos. Much more slender than the first one.
dinner we had a rather long and interesting conversation with a friendly,
earlier the special Vatopediou app, that can be downloaded for IPad.
We picked up our rucksacks, said goodbye to the archondariki, and were on our way to Vatopediou. Looking back to Pantocratoros we had a good view on the aqueduct that leads to the monastery. The aqueduct spans an olive orchard. We saw some smoke from behind the bushes; the monks were burning rubbish.
A steady climb awaits when you leave Pantocratoros in the direction of Vatopediou. On these southern hills there are mainly shrubberies. Quite unlike the vegetation on the other side of the peninsula. The broom was blooming in April. In the far distance the silhouette of Stavronikita can be seen. Profitou Eliou is not visible, it is just behind the first hill.
Higher up the hill and further from the shoreline, the vegetation becomes more dense. Shrubberies make place for trees, that embrace the monopati and make it hollow like a hole. Here with pilgrim Jacques.
It was still hazy in the early afternoon. Pilgrims Barry and Herman passing.
Suddenly the monopati opens into a dirt road. There, out of the ancient woods, we see cultivated nature; terraced plantation of neat olive trees and blooming broom.
When we walked on we were suddenly surpassed by a monk from Vatopediou, who was powerwalking at twice our speed. We later learned that he had announced our arrival to the monastic community.
Arriving in Vatopediou we were first welcomed by an enormous blooming Wisteria.
we will wander around the courtyard of Vatopediou.