2024 – Russian Orthodox Church: Mount Athos closed to Russian pilgrims?

Breaking news today: the Russian Orthodox Church has broken ties with Orthodoxy’s leader Bartholomew and says Mount Athos is now closed to Russian Orthodox Christians from RussiaBartholomew October 7th 2011 on the pier in Ouranopolis – foto Wim Voogd

Ukraine secured approval on Thursday to establish an independent church in what Kiev says is a vital step against Russian meddling in its affairs, but the Russian clergy fiercely opposes the biggest split in Christianity for a thousand years.

At a three-day synod presided over by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, seat of the global spiritual leader of roughly 300 million Orthodox Christians, endorsed Ukraine’s request of Patriarch Filaret for an “autocephalous” (independent) church.

The Russian Orthodox Church says Mount Athos is also now closed to Russian Orthodox Christians from Russia. Patriarch Kirill’s press secretary, priest Alexander Volkov, has pointed out that Mount Athos is in the Moscow Patriarchate’s jurisdiction “with all the same consequences.”

Does this also mean that Russian and Ukrainian monks (or pilgrims) can no longer attend services together? It will be exciting to see how this works out on Mount Athos, I hope without any struggle.

Wim Voogd, 16/10

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2023 – A walk along the border

This September I spent the holidays with my wife in the beautiful Skites Resort between Ouranoupolis and the Athos border. No plans to visit Athos but after some  time I felt the urge to make a long walk and see a glimpse of the Holy Mountain. So I decided to walk along the border going from coast to coast and back. I took the dirt road next to our appartment going north. Dirt road, in the top right corner of the photo.After a few hundred meters I saw a restored post-Byzantine aqueduct where I learned that this part of the border area used to be the property of the Vatopedi monastery. Looking to the west, in the shade of the trees, a chapel is located called Ag. Triadas where the locals of Ouranoupolis meet. But I followed the road to the north. When I looked back I saw the windmill and a dome of the church of Chromitsa, the Mount Athos based dependency of the Russian monastery, Panteleimonos. Not visible but somewhere in the distance lay the border fence.The actual border is, again invisible, somewhere on the 100 meter line. The communication tower on the highest point is at 510 meter. In 2012 this area was damaged by a large wildfire.Map by Peter Howorth with the border and some of the locations which I passed during the hike.
When I almost reached the other coast, after 3 hours walking in the hot sun,  a car picked me up and I had the following conversation with a friendly Greek who spoke a little bit of English: “I am from Holland  ‘, I said. The man said: “me, uncle, Walweek, Walweek, Walweek”. Finally I understood that he meant that his uncle lived in the village of Waalwijk in The Netherlands. ” Does he work in Greek restaurant?” I asked.
“No” the man said ” work as father from Jesus”. When we both stopped laughing we arrived at the beach. I thanked him for the lift and walked to the beach club.
At the beach club Giorgos & Amanda in the Komitsa area I ate bread with Feta cheese and watched some German customers who gave the impression that they had never left this place since the 1960ties. Still with long hear wearing their India robes and bandanas.  From the beach club it was another 200 meters to the border.The border wall, with the Arapis peninsula behind it. The ” no entry for women”  text of this Mount Athos sign is completely faded by the sun. These signs were all over the Mount Athos coastline and border mainly to prevent that women would enter the peninsula.
With fresh water in my backpack I started to hike back the same route as I came. The area is very deserted and also protected nature. Further up the road a jackal was fleeing rapidly when I came in sight. I heard jackals on Mount Athos but never saw one there.I was rather glad when I saw Sidney Lochs tower and Drenia and Amouliani Island again. It took me 6 hours and almost 20 km to get from one coast to the other and back. I was pretty tired and somewhat overheated  but had a wonderful day.

Herman Voogd

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2022 – Jan Paul ten Bruggencate dies at age of 87

Last Friday, 21th of September, on our last day of our 2018 pilgrimage to Athos, my good friend Jean Paul ten Bruggencate died at the blessed age of 87. He visited Athos many times and usually stayed at Maroudá or Karakallou. His first visit to the Holy Mountain was as early as 1967. Here is the announcement in NRC newspaper this morning (in Dutch). Maybe other pilgrims can inform father Makarios of Maroudá  and father Pachomios of Karakallou ? Many thanks.

May he rest in peace.

Wim Voogd

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2021 – Simonospetras in moonlight

Two exceptional pictures of Simonospetras in moonlight, made last week by Jitze Bakker. Silence, tranquility and serenity are the appropriate words for these pictures (thanks to monk T.)

Wim Voogd, 25/9

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2020 – a sneak preview of the 2018 pilgrimage and news from Athos

From the monastery of Simonospetras, where we could sleep for two nights thanks to monk T., I will show a few images that I shot the last three days:

On the boat to Athos: an unexpected meeting with mr Hadrian Liem from Holland

Konstamonitou: the Katholicon

A dome of a chapel with its typical Greek blue color, near Docheiariou

Xenofontos: the Katholicon

On the road with father T.  from Simonospetras: somewhere high above Dafni, the West coast, Rema Dontá


Father Maximos, shop owner in Karyes

Iviron: the aqueduct

Me in the Landrover of father T. (photo Jitze Bakker – JB)

Just before Lavra: the old bridge of Velás

The small road, just wide enough for one (4-wheel drive!) car, leading to arsanas Prodromou

Wild seas at arsanas Prodromou

The cave/old boat house from 1853 at arsanas Prodromou

Time for a drink and a meal at Karyes with father T. (photo JB)

News item:

Yesterday we heard the news here that the fire brigade and special forces had to rescue an 67 year old Swiss man, who was hiking on his own an got lost in the Athonite wilderness, because he chose to leave the path and in doing so, fell and broke his foot. The rescuers had to carry him from the bushes back to Simonospetras, from where he was transported by boat and than by helicopter to a hospital.

From Greek newspapers we understand that he spend the night alone on a monopati, before he was rescued. This proves again the golden rule on the Holy Mountain, never ever leave the path, especially when you hike alone!

I do not hope it was the Swiss man who we met on the boat two days earlier!

Wim, 20/9

Posted in 13 Simonos Petras, 16 Xenofontos, 20 Konstamonitou, arsanas, events, news, Prodromou, Trip 2018 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

2019 – Helicopter crash in 2004

Today, 14 years ago , a fatal helicopter crash happened just outside the coast of Sithonia peninsula. Everyone on board died. The Chinook helicopter from the Greek army was on its way to Mount Athos, probably to the Heli platform in Karyes with on board , amongst others, the Patriarch of Alexandria, responsable for Orthodox Africa. The names of all the victims are put on this monument which I saw a couple of days ago while staying in Porto Koufo at the south end of Sithonia. The monument seems to be an initiative of the Greek army because the names of the crew members are accompanied with a photo and a military helicopter, of another type, is standing behind the actual monument. The cause of the accident was probably mechanical failures. Boeing, the manufacturor of the Chinook, was sewed and had to pay compensations.porto koufo.png

  • Herman Voogd
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2018 – the German flak position on Athos in WW II?

In the Second World War the Nazi’s invaded Greece and also took position on the peninsula of Athos. We reported about the Nazi occupation many times in this weblog (see f.e. posts  1218 and 1444).

In post 1503 I shared two pictures that I found on the internet of the German flak position that was located on a strategic point on the hills above Prodromou, where you have a wide view over the South and East coast of Athos. Here are these two pictures:The German flak position above ProdromouProdromou (seen from the flak position?)

In addition to these photo’s I bought some more – never published – pictures made by Wehrmacht soldiers in WW II on the internet, that I will show here:View towards Lavra, seen from the flak position? The country site and hills, surrounding the flak position?Th South coast (seen from Akrathos?)dscn6711.jpgHermit’s huts (South coast, near Akrathos?) A kellion near Lavra(Agia Triada “Kyr Isaia”?)Detail of the kellionAn ox passing the katarimi near the flak position?

In totall I bought nine pictures made by Wehrmacht soldiers in the Second World War. Here are two more, made by the same photographer:Arsanas Prodromou Detail of the last picture: I wonder if these buildings are still in situ.Two German soldiers standing on a cliffThe two soldiers in detail, posing for the photo, one holding a reed. Who are these men?

In two weeks I will be visiting the Holy Mountain again and we got a generous offer from father Theodosius of Simonospetras to go on discovery trip aroung the peninsula and we will try to find the flak position as mentioned in this post (and hopefully, many more interesting spots on Athos, like the arsanas of Prodromou!)

I will report the findings to you as soon as possible!

Wim Voogd, 5/9

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