Today, Sunday 27/9, a powerful earthquake was felt by the monks on the Agion Oros in the early morning, during the service called “agripnía”. The quake took place about 20 kilometers southwest of Athos and measured 5.2 on the Richter scale. Thank God, it seems, everything went well. Here is a footage of the earthquake on Facebook: (earthquake after approx. 48 seconds): luckily only some debris fell down from the church ceiling.
The area of Mount Athos has given strong earthquakes in 1905 with 7.5 on the Richter scale, as well as in 1982 and 1983, with magnitudes of 7 and 6.8. All of them were at a distance of 25 to 45 km from the epicenter of the current earthquake. Greek seismologists are practically talking about the same tectonic formation and that is why they are cautious. As for the possibility of other faults in the area of Mount Athos to be activated by the vibrations that currently took place the seismologist described it as “completely unlikely, because the earthquake is relatively small and can not affect other areas”. (source)
Since our last post from August 6th in 2160 there was no news from Athos, concerning the pandemic. But two days ago Romfea.gr reported that an outbreak of Covid-19 occured in the Agiou Paulou monastery (in English read more here). The information states that eight confirmed cases of coronavirus were found. One of the fathers had to be transported to a hospital outside Mount Athos. The monastery is in quarantine and further visits are suspended until September 27th.
30/9: The monk from the Monastery of Saint Paul on Mount Athos, who had been intubated at the General Hospital of Thessaloniki was finally extubated after his multi-day battle with the corona virus. The monk was found to be negative for the Covid 19 virus and so he will not even need to be treated at the Covid clinic. Instead, he will be transferred to the Pulmonary Clinic of the hospital and will remain there until he is discharged.
The latest news from from yesterday 22/9 is (source: vimaorthodoxias) that within the monastery of Agiou Paulou there are five confirmed cases and two cases are in hospitals in Thessaloniki, one of them 85-year old monk. Two new cases are found in the monastery of Chilandariou and in Lakou Skiti, that makes a total of nine (or ten) cases that have been discovered on Mount Athos.
22/9 19.20 h.: After an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Community this afternoon the amount of pilgrims is set up to ten visitors per monastery, as a measure to curb the COVID-19 spread. It also prohibits the movement of visitors to a monastery other than the one for which approval is given. And for foreigners: a special corona-test is obliged.
24/9: Panteleimonos and Lavra monasteries have been on lockdown. 200 monks have been tested negative on the virus.
I hope the virus will be contained and that will not spread over the pensisula, because it might cause a disaster! The expectation is that the Holy Epistasía soon will come with stricter measures to prefend the spreading of the virus on Athos.
And isn’t it strange that at the same time this news appears on Romfea.gr:
The Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Misustin will pay a two-day pilgrimage to Mount Athos on Thursday. The Russian official is coming unofficially and according to information he will go to Karyes where he will meet with the Mount Athos leadership and will stay at the Holy Monastery of Panteleimonos.
How is it possible that government leaders are setting the wrong example and why should you go to Athos in these times? What makes politicians different and how irresponsible can you be?
This week I will end the special offers with – for the time being – the last two watercolors of the Greek artist Christis Baloukos: houses near Dionysiou and Ivirón.
The terms are the same as the watercolors for sale in posts 2161, 2163, 2164 and 2167: we made a special deal with the artist and we offer the watercolors with a discount for our readers and visitors of 50%! The prize of a painting -35×50 cm- is €300,00 (including shipping).
You can order them directly from mr. Baloukos at this e-mail adress: firstname.lastname@example.org, adding the number of the watercolor that you find under the image in this blog. He will take care of the payment by Paypal and the shipping. For more examples of his art (also oil paintings), please take a look at his website.
Today I will present the next four watercolors made by the Greek artist Christos Baloukos. As shown before in posts 2161, 2163 and 2164, all the pieces of art are unique and one of a kind. Athosweblog has made special deal with artist and we offer the watercolors with a discount for our readers and visitors of 50%! The prize of a painting -35×50 cm- is € 300,00 (including shipping).
You can order them directly from mr. Baloukos at this e-mail adress: email@example.com, adding the number of the watercolor that you find under the image in this blog. He will take care of the payment by Paypal and the shipping.
The first watercolor is from the entrance of I.M. Filotheou:
For the people who do have the opportunity to go here: on this photo you can check that it is the same spot (from my photo library, shot in 2009). The vivid colors mr. Baloukos used in his watercolor makes the place even more beautiful!
Kerasia lies on one of the most pristine and deserted pieces of land you can find on the Holy Mountain (and maybe in Europe). On the foot of the 2033 meters high Athos mountain some monks gathered to live their lives close to God in seclusion and in contemplation. A Kerasia monk from the US told us during a taxitrip to Lavra in 2019 that you have to have a special permit (blessing) from the elder to spent the night here. Not many pilgrims that I know of did get that permit.
This a detail of the two domes and the bellfry, above the entrance of the Rumenian skete of Timiou Prodromou, seen from the courtyard. Christos made a fine artist impression with blue skies, white clouds and the yellow sun behind them, in contrast with the top of Mount Athos and the colorfull stones of the building. A well chosen scene and a fine piece of art! In 2011 I took a picture of this part of the building:
And last but not least: the harbour of Dafni with pilgrims leaving the boat:
Almost every pilgrim arrives or leaves from the port of Dafni. Here on this watercolor of Christos Baloukos a small group of pilgrims are leaving the small boat and touch the ground of Athos for the first time. For me, even after 13 visits, this moment is a very special one: the first step on Athos soil again gives an extraordinary feeling, difficult to describe. On the scene above this moment is frozen in time.
The (other) paintings of Christos Baloukos are also on display in the luxury Capital Hotel MGallery Collection in Athens, where you can see art of many well known Greek artists of the last 100 years. Christos is very proud to have a big painting on every floor.
Le Corbusier became one of the world’s most renowned architects of the twentieth century. The importance of his visit to the Holy Mountain is not very common knowledge. He visited Mount Athos only once. But it made a lasting impression on the young man and the trip had a definite influence on his architecture.
He was born as Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris. He changed his name only in 1920, when he was is his thirties, as a variety of his grandmother‘s surname, Lecorbésier.
Charles-Édouard made his grand tour in 1911 when he was 24 years old. The tour lasted for five months. It would not bring him to the classical destinations, but instead he first headed east; to the Balkans with as the final destination: Constantinople with its architectural miracle the Hagia Sophia (in that era a mosque). On the way to Constantinople he took a detour to Mount Athos as well. He was very much interested in eastern and Byzantine architecture. Charles-Édouard gave the following impression of the peninsula:
The Virgin has her altar on the great mountain consecrated entirely in her praise. Her altar has its monastery at the foot of the mountain, on a sandy bank by the edge of the sea. The monastery is a big quadrangle pierced by a door at the end of a former drawbridge; washed by the moat, the enclosing walls are bare almost all the way to the top, where balconies cling and where loggias open at the fourth and fifth floors. In the middle of the large courtyard is the main church, Byzantine to its roots, in its form and its eternal principles. A Byzantine spirit still pervades the whole of this monastery, even down to its smallest stones. But many other monasteries, eighteen I think, sit like eagles’ eyries at the top of steep, inaccessible rocks. Others, similar to this one, are near the sea. Everywhere there is an aura of another age and, because of the multitude of monks, a feeling of disturbing anachronism.
He gives this description in a book that was published shortly after his death. It is part of a separate chapter in his last book, published in 1966, Le Voyage d’Orient (Journey to the East), which is based on the eighteen days he spent on the Holy Mountain in 1911. The draft was delivered to the publisher just before he died.
In the quote above he gives a description of the monastery of Iviron. Le Corbusier thought there were eighteen monasteries. In fact there are twenty, as we know. In those years 7.000 monks were still living on the Holy Mountain. The year 1911 was just a year before the Turkish rule would be replaced by protection under the Greek government.
The front view from the sea. Picture from 2009.
A view on the central courtyard. Picture from 2013.
Another quote from his book:
[T]his orthodox presence of a monastic life, this Byzantinism emptied like an echoless chasm, moves me.
I made a reconstruction of Le Corbusiers voyage of eighteen days on the Holy Mountain. I have put the names of the sketes and Monasteries he visited in a logical order: after arriving by boat at the harbour of Dafni he first went to Xeropotamou, then via Karyes to Iveron. From there: Philotheou, Karakallou, Great Lavra, the skete Prodromos, skete of St. Anna , St. Paul, Dionysiou, Simopetra, Panteleimonon. In fact he made a complete tour of the southern part of the peninsula and visited all the monasteries. I understand that he even went to the top of the mountain, probably before “the debilitating illness which sapped our energies” got hold of him. Something had made him seriously ill at the last part of his voyage.
The pyramid of Mount Athos (Foundation Le Corbusier)
During his stay he made quick sketches. As an architect he saw even natural phenomena such as the Holy Mountain as a piece of architecture, or as a sculpture. One of his famous quotes is “everything is architecture” meaning that one can create new artifacts from every existing object (Tzonis, 2001). So he called the Mount Athos a pyramid, as if the Holy Mountain is a human achievement as the pyramids in Egypt. Everything is architecture. It reminds me of the ideas to make a giant sculpture of the marble mountain.
He also made drawings of the ground plans of monasteries. Here we see his impression of Philoteou.
That he found inspiration and direction for his work becomes clear when reading this quote:
The hours spent in those silent sanctuaries inspired in me a youthful courage and true desire to become an honorable builder.
It is said that the structures of the buildings in Panteleimonos inspired him as well. Here we see how it looked, restored in 2019. In 1911 there were 2.999 cells in Panteleimonos.
Ten years earlier, in 2009, the restauration works had just started. Only the façade was upright.
The cell structure in the Chandigarh Legislative Assembly building in India.
The influence of the Athonian architecture can clearly be seen in his 1960 work in the Catholic monastery Tourette in Lyon, France. structure can be compared with Dionysiou for instance.
Dionysiou, winter 2014
On his first sketch of the monastery he referred explicit to Athos; he even drew a silhouette of the Holy Mountain.
Here we see the architect surrounded by monks.
An nice sketch from the arsanas of Simonas Petras looking up to the amazing structure.
In the last phase of his life Le Corbusier looked back on his traveling and evaluated his only visit to the Holy Mountain melancholically:
So many things made us leave Athos in too much of a hurry: the libraries in total disorder, the librarians not even knowing what they had at their disposal (marvellous documents), the impossibility of making ourselves understood, the debilitating illness which sapped our energies. Yet I know I shall never return there. You have to be sitting alone in your room on a desperate, rainy Sunday in a sad provincial town to feel anguish at having let so much happiness go by!
In 1914 he described the hours he spend on the Mountain were the happiest he had ever experienced and that overwhelming memories had been with him for three years since his visit.
He liked being alone and withdrawn from the world. He was looking for solitude and silence. He worked like a hermit. He designed and erected a wood log cabin, a tiny house as we would put it nowadays, were he could work with a view from Roquebrune-Cap Martin on the Mediterranean Sea. It resembled a monks cell. It measured only 3,6 meter by 3,6 meter. That was the place where he spent his working summers. That was the cell where he was happy. The only place where he was happy. He loved swimming in the Mediterranean. On the unfortunate day of August 28 1965 he was found dead 100 meters from his cabanon. He was later buried in the little cemetery above his cabin.
I gratefully used much information from Jelena Bogdanovićs instructive paper: “Le Corbusier’s testimonial to Byzantine architecture on mt. Athos” (2015), from Ivan Zaknic’s study, Le Corbusier’s Epiphany on Mount Athos (1990) and from Alexander Tzonis’ Le Corbusier, The poetics of machine and metaphor (2001) and several newspaper articles .
The next three watercolors by the Greek artist Christos Baloukos, that Athosweblog we can offer exclusively to our readers for € 300,00 are from:
Agiou Paulou and
All watercolors are unique, so there are no other copies of these works of art. The size of all watercolors that we offer is 35×50 cm. You can order them directly from mr. Baloukos at this e-mail adress: firstname.lastname@example.org, adding the number of the watercolor that you find under the image in this blog. He will take care of the payment by Paypal and the shipping.
Please take a look at the website of Christos Baloukos, where more examples of his works of art can be found, not only watercolors, but also oil paintings.
For previous posts with special offers look here – 2163 and 2161.
In post 2161 I showed the first three of the in total 17 watercolors that will be on sale with a 50% discount for readers of our Athosweblog. Today I proudly present the next three watercolors, two of them are from the neighbourhood of Karyes: the cell of Saint Paisios and the cell of Maroudá. The other watercolor is from I.M. Konstamonitou.
All watercolors are unique, so there are no copies of these works of art. The size of all watercolors that we offer is 35×50 cm. You can order them directly from mr. Baloukos at this e-mail adress: email@example.com, adding the number of the watercolor that you find under the image in this blog. He will take care of the payment by Paypal and the shipping.
The deal that we could make for our readers is a reduction of 50%, so the prize of one original Baloukos watercolor now is € 300,00 (including shipping).
Feel free to have look at the website of Christos Baloukos and ask him if other watercolors also are covered by this special offer of 50% discount. One of our regular visitors did this last week and he bought the watercolor that you can see below, also with a 50% reduction on the prize!
In these special “Corona”-times even monasteries on the Holy Mountain adapt to the modern ways of communication.
The online magazine Pemptousia is organizing tomorrow, on Saturday 22 August from 10 am to 12.30 pm a “3rd internet meeting (in Greek) from Athos with Elder Ephraim called: “Children and Young people”. The invitation is directed to parents to participate in the internet meeting with the Elder. Parents can attend the meeting but the abbot will speak, answer questions and discuss with children and young people of any age!