2254 – FoMa footpath team 2022 – part 1: from Ouranopolis to Dafni and Vatopedi

“No pilgrimage to Athos for me this year, or so I thought”, because at the beginning of 2022 it turned out that traveling to Athos was still difficult, because of the protective measures to prevent the Corona virus from spreading over the Holy Mountain. And secondly, all my Dutch fellow pilgrims could not come along this year. But being a member of the Friends of Mount Athos, I accepted an invitation in January to attend a “Teams”-meeting of the footpath team. The FoMA team had planned a visit to Athos in the autumn of 2022. At this meeting I just listened to the plans they were making, because I knew there was a waiting list and I couldn’t go yet, so I quietly hoped that next year, in 2023, it would be my turn.

Shortly afterwards, to my surprise, I received a message that I had already been invited to join the footpath team this year and I embraced this offer with both hands! I could choose to participate for one or two weeks. I chose to go for one week, from Sunday September 25th to Saturday October 1st.

This is how I ended up in Ouranopolis this fall, where I first had to do an EU-approved PCR-COVID test at the local GP with the fancy name VIP Doctor, where Dr Alexander does this test for 60 euros. You will receive the results by email within 24 hours. To enter the Vatopedi Monastery, you must have a negative COVID test not older than 48 hours or you will not be allowed to enter the monastery. A checkpoint has been made for this, not far from Chera on the road near the Ridge path (see map below).

The morning of departure with the ferry to Dafni, before collecting your Diamoniterion at the office of the Pilgrims Bureau, you’ll have to do (another) rapid COVID-test, just around the corner of the Pilgrims Bureau, performed by three docters (the building is at the red arrow). It takes about 20 minutes to queue and get the results.

7.20 h: our team in line to get the rapid COVID test.

A day earlier I had already met my teammates, Bart Janssens from Belgium, our leader, with his two sons Tjeu and Lukas, and Daniel from Italy, who lives in Belfast, here in front of the Pilgrims Office.

My (happy) teammates with their Diamoniterion.

Then we had to buy tickets for the ferry. The ticket office has been moved from the spot next to the Isalos cafe to the edge of the village, also not far from the Pilgrims Office (the building by the blue arrow in the photo above). At 9.45 am the (new) ferry Panaghia Engyitria leaves for Dafni after a final check of all documents.

September 25th 2022: a beautiful day to start a pilgrimage!

When we arrived in Dafni, father Mathew was already waiting for us, along with Justin from Illinois/USA, the sixth member of our team, who have already spent a week in Vatopedi with other FoMA volunteers. We first drove to Koutloumousiou in his four-wheeled car to get some supplies and then went through Karyes to the Vatopedi checkpoint.

The Vatopedi checkpoint on the Howort map version June 2022
The Vatopedi checkpoint

After arriving in Vatopedi we were warmly welcomed in the guesthouse by Father Mathew with loukoumi, biscuits, fresh water and a glass of tsipourou.

The door to our ‘tool shed’, not far from the archondaritki and our sleeping rooms.

Inside the tool shed
Handing over of the new Peter Howarth map, specially printed for the footpath clearing teams.
The Peter Howorth map June 2022, get this map here.

The Peter Howorth-map is the best map of Athos. It is updated all the time and also used by local police and the fire brigade on Athos.

Wim Voogd, 19-11-2022

Posted in 02 Vatopedi, Karyes, Ouranoupolis, Trip 2022 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2253 – another You Tube footage by Rafinos of a hike from Agia Anna to Kerasia and to the top of Mount Athos, including the enormous waterspout

The latest video of the Greek pilgrim dates from the first of November 2022. On this nice footage with dramatic music at the end he and his friend Angelos start their climb from arsanas Agia Anna, where he almost slides into the sea (!), and where they a little later spot a waterspout above the sea (4.07 min). This must be the same tornado I saw on September 23th, when I was in Ouranopolis!

First they climbed all the way to Kerasia, where they spend the night. The next day they hiked to the Panaghia refuge and immediately went to the top of Mount Athos. It is here that they spend the night (in the open air at 5 Celsius?) and saw the sun set and rise again, with the impressive piramid shaped shadow of the mountain in the sea. Again a drone was used to make some fine shots and the music completes this fine video.

This is what Rafinos said about the top:

“We climbed the top on the 2nd day. The ascent, although tiring, had no dangerous or steep spots at all. For those who go up, we would tell you to spend the night at the top and not at the church of Panagia at 1500m. The reason is that the shelter is unfortunately very dirty and neglected inside. Unfortunately, many people who visit Agios Oros does not respect the place, as a result of which you see garbage in many parts of the climb. Spending the night at the top is a truly unreal experience. Both in the east and in the west, the shadow of the mountain stretches for many kilometers over the sea. At night, if the weather helps, you think you’re traveling among the stars”.

The hike on September 23th is also published on Wikiloc.

The same waterspout was filmed by monk T near Simonos Petras on September 23th

Wim Voogd, 8-11-2022

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2252 – a You Tube footage of a hike between Simonos Petras and Grigoriou

Rafinos from Greece published this beautifil 8-minute video from his hike on July 5th 2022(?) between Simonos Petras and Grigoriou, in black and white and color, and with appropriate music in the background. Some of the shots were made by drone. Nice work!

His hike is available on Wikiloc.

Wim Voogd, 7-11-2022 (thanks to Vasilis on Facebook)

Posted in 13 Simonos Petras, 17 Grigoriou, films, walking | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

2251 – Swiss photographer Fred Boissonnas in Vatopedi -1928/30

On my last journey to Athos in September/October 2022 I spend one day in Thessaloniki. Because we published the photos of the photographer Boissonnas earlier on this weblog (1485), I made a visit to this small museum MOmus on the pier in the centre of town, where an exhibition of his work was on display.

Museum of Photography MOmus

It was a nice exhibition, but for me as a Athos-fan, I also expected some his pictures he made on Athos during his visits in 1928-1930. There were none, alas. But when leaving I saw at the entrance that a book was on sale with all his Athos-pictures. It was already published in 2006, but only in Greek , so it did not come to my attention yet. You can buy the book here.

Fred Boissonnas -Athos pictures 1928-1930

Because I spend one week in Vatopedi together with my friends of the FoMA footpath team I tried to retake some of the pictures Fred Boissonnas took in 1928, so 94 years later. Let’s see how much has changed (or not!).

14/27-8-1928: the gate and entrance to Vatopedi with mules on the right side.
The entrance on Mat 10th 2017: sadly this photo is not taken from the right angle,

At the gate of monastery not many things have changed in the past 89 years, allthough there is a new cross on top of the dome of the chapel. Inside the gate there some new murals and outside on the left many Koi carps are swimming around, but otherwise things are still the same here.

14/27-08-1928: Vatopedi courtyard with the source of the Austrian benefactor Peter Müller, the chapel of the Holy Girdle on the right and the tower of Christ’s Transfiguration on the background
29-09-2022: Vatopedi courtyard

What is striking that the amount of trees inside the monastery walls has increased substantially, and unfortunately they block the view. In the South West corner on the right you’ll see the two chapels of the Saints Theodori (upper level) and Minas (lower level). Here also are te guestrooms of the archondariki. This part of monastery is more or less in its original state and is not renovated yet. On the top floor of the tower our contact in the monastery, father Andrew lives.

23-9/6-10-1930: the source, given by of the Austrian benefactor Peter Müller
28-09-2022: the same spot, with a large tree!
A Latin text (why?) on the source: “This source was given to the venerable fathers by Peter Müller and his companion a.d. 1860”, (with some mistakes in the spelling {fuit = est and de = a}. Could it been a rush work, my Latin language expert and travel compagnon Bart Janssens asked himself, who also took this photo).
14/27 August 1930: Vatopedi courtyard

28-09-2022: except for the trees that now grow in the courtyard, almost nothing changed
14/27 August 1928: the phiale, with the chapel of Ag. Thomas in the background
28-09-2022: the Phiale, seen from a slightly different angle, with probably The three Hierarchs chapel
22-9/5-10-1930: the marble throne next to the door to the Katholikon
28-9-2022: the same spot, nothing changed here

22/9-5-10-1930: the clock tower with the Jackmart and the phiale next to it, and on the right the bell tower. In front of the bell tower is some kind of source, that has disappeared nowadays.
28-09-2022: the same spot, next to the bell tower a building with a round door was added
22 September/5 October 1930: Vatopdi, the interior of the trapeza
1980 – the interior of the trapeza with the blue color, that has disappeared a couple of years ago, when the walls were restored with white paint, as it was in 1930.
22 September/7 October 1930: outside the Vatopedi walls: a view of the ruins of the Athonasias academy, with two storeys still in situ, and with the aqeduct on the right.
09-05-2017: most of the ruins walls did collapse, only the aqeduct is still fairly intact.

Below I show some pictures of Vatopedi from 1928/30, that I didn’t make a double of on my last trip or that I don’t have a double of in my archive.

On the last picture you see a monk walking around the church with the traditional semantron, to announce that church service will start soon. What surprised me was that this act was not performed during the week I stayed in Vatopedi. Does that mean they have stopped this tradition?

Thanks to Fred Boissonnas, who is looking very seriously on this self-portret. He lived from 18 June 1858 – 17 October 1946, and came from Switserland.

Wim Voogd, 24-10-2022 (to my knowledge there is no copyright any more on showing these pictures, but if it does, please contact me).

Posted in 02 Vatopedi, art, books, history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2250 – arsanas Chromitsa and the border buildings

On a half hour walk from Ouranopolis you will find the border to the Holy Mountain. Behind the fence there is a cluster of five buildings: one for a policeman (on the right when standing at the gate), a house for the employee of the Holy Mountain and three deserted buildings belonging to the arsanas of Chromitsa. Chromitsa lies higher uphill and it used to be the hospital of the Russian monastery Panteleimonos, nowadays it is vineyard of Tsantali, where the grapes of the house wine of the Kremlin grow (the ‘Putin’-wine that costs €150).

Two of the arsanas buildings
The border; “The entry is prohibited at all times. Those wishing to visit the Holy Mountain are allowed only from Ouranopoli by ship. From here crossing is illegal and punishable by law”.
The house of the police man on the right
Left: the house the employee of the Holy Mountain
View from the entrance
With a double headed eagle on the gate
In former days the border was guarded by a small monk named Makarios, here in 1989.
The large building with two floors, with broken windows and almost in ruins, although the roof is still intact.
The smaller building with two closed doors
The first door
The second door
With the year 1883 in iron numbers above it
The passage to the arsanas buildings
An old wall and the jetty
Looking back at the passage
the two-storey building photo 1, covered with hanging plants
the two-storey building photo 2
the two-storey building photo 3, with an old tv antenna
A ruin of a small building that was attached to the big one beside it
In 2007 this small building was still intact.
The North side of the dock-yard house
Both buildings
The dock-yard house
A window with iron bars (the two-storey building)
A door of the two-storey building
Inside the two-storey building: not a save place to be
The border fence at the sea

Wim Voogd, 4/10

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2249 – the Dafni building complex of Simonospetras – part 2

In part 1 of this post (2248) I showed you the exterior and interior of the Church of All Saints. In this post we wil take a closer look at some of the other buildings, starting with the building that is called the Papayiannis building. This is the traditional Simonopetras Overseer’s House, which after renovation will be used for pilgrim accommodation.

Nr 2 the Papayiannis building – credits simonopetrafoundation.org

This is how this building looks like seen from the road (situation in October 2019):

In the background on the right: the Papayiannis building. In the foreground the church of All Saints in construction cloths and on the left house nr 4 with a water tap and flowers named “Cognac” (see the plan below). I do not know why this house is named after a French brandy?.
Behind the olive tree: the stairs that lead to the entrance of the Papayiannis building
Inside the Papayiannis building: choir stalls from the Church that lies next door. The passage to the stairs is closed.
The Papayiannis building: a hallway with different furniture
The Papayiannis building: work in progress in a room with icons, a printer (?) in plastic, multiple frames, buckets, books and a bookcase and a fire extinguisher
A small balcony in a corner between the Papayiannis building (nr2) and the lumber storage (nr 3)
Seen from the other side: The Papayiannis building. In the background you can see blue car, which also can be seen in the next photo
In a small alley opposite of the Church of All Saints (at nr 4 on the plan below)
Credits: simonopetrafoundation.org
Building nr 6: the lumber laborer’s building
This is the same building, but then drawn in its future shape, taken from the simonopetrafoundation.org website

And on the drawing below an artist impression of the complete Simonospetras building complex, as it should look like when the funds are collected and the renovations completed.

The future situation of the Dafni building complex?

This ends the posts I made during and of my 2019 Athos pilgrimage. Hopefully next week I will get new content to share with you.

Leaving Dafni October 4th 2019: a thunderstorm threathens the port and ferry
A goodbye to Athos
and Panteleimonos
but with the happy face of Anna in Ouranopolis (for a good breakfast and cold beer at Maria’s Isalos bar/restaurant. The restaurant used to lie next the ferry ticket office, that in present days has been moved further down the boulevard of Ouranopolis).

Tomorrow I will leave for my 14th pilgrimage to Athos, and from next Sunday the 25th of September I will go to Dafni together with the Footpath team of the FoMA, where a 4-wheel drive car will be waiting for us to bring us to Vatopedi. I will keep you informed about developments with new posts !

Wim Voogd, 20-9-2022

Posted in 13 Simonos Petras, Dafni | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

2248 – the Dafni building complex of Simonospetras – part 1

Dafni 4th of October 2019

It has been three years since we last visited the Holy Mountain. Due to the coronavirus, the lockdowns in the world and extra precautions that applied to Athos, no pilgrims were allowed to come. But this summer Athos will finally open again and pilgrims are allowed to visit (most) monasteries again. I’m lucky enough to be joining the FoMA footpath clearing team this month, so I’ll be back on the Athos Peninsula on September 25th. And it was about time, because while I have a large archive of Athos photos, my own Athos pilgrimage content has almost completely dried up. But with some patience I managed to save some photos from the last trip in 2019 and some content for a very last post from the trip of 2019.

Dafni seen from above – drone footage by monk T

On October 4th 2019 we arrived in Dafni on time to leave for Ouranopolis, so I had some time to wander around in the small harbour village. I ended up at the Southern part of Dafni, where I saw some old dilapidated buildings. One of them was a church near a boathouse. Because the door was open I could enter the building and have a look inside.

Old dilapidated buildings in Dafni
Arsanas of the Simonospetras Monastery at Daphne. Russian Photographer, date unknown

This is the church that I visited in 2019, shown on an old photograph and seen from the jetty. I think this must in a time before the WWII, according to the fashion and hat from the man on the picture. The stairs that lead to the balcony on the second floor have since been removed.

But first, let me show you a floor plan of the Dafni building complex of Simonospetras: it comes from the new website simonopetrafoundation.org, where several projects of Simonospetras are presented in an absolutely beautiful website.

The church of All Saints in Dafni: nr 1
From the Simonopetras Foundation site

The Church of All Saints in Dafni: 4/10/2019

The church wrapped in construction cloths and surrounded by scaffolding. I now know that the church is dedicated to All Saints thanks to to the website mentionend above.

The Church of All Saints in Dafni: the stairs to the entrance
The Church of All Saints in Dafni: seen from the jetty and buildings 2 and 3: the Papayiannis building and the lumber storage
A close up of these two buildings: the lumber storage seems newly renovated
The church of All Saints with its boathouse and the Papayiannis building: they are connected to each other.
The boat house and the Papayiannis building

Let’s have a closer look inside the church of All Saints.

On the first floor, a room at the seaside, with al large fireplace
A room on the first floor with niches, neatly wihite plastered and with stained glass
The stairs that lead to the first floor: this part lies above the boat house
In a corner: beautiful doors with stained glass
The door that leads to the church and the first room above the boat house, with a view over the sea

A room on the second floor that overlooks the sea, with a small dome painted blue and a ceiling with only beams, From here you can go to the balcony.
The niche in the wall, with a (what we now all know) mouth cap, here ment to protect against dust, not Covid-19 (yet!).
A first iconostasis to enter the church, with a second, wooden iconostasis behind it, wrapped in plastic.
The balcony on the second floor, looking North
The balcony on the second floor, looking South
The actual church of All Saints, with its large dome in white, and with renovations in full progress
One of its thick outher walls, with a round top and a V-shaped window in it. There is almost no plaster on the walls left. On the right the second wooden iconostasis.

I am curious what the church looks like now, because in 2019 the Simonospetras Monastery started the renovation work and in the meantime three years have passed. In the photo below you can get an impression of what it will eventually look like. I wonder how far they are in renovating the whole complex. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see it on my upcoming Footpath Clearing Trip, on returning to Ouranopolis.

An artist impression of the Dafni buildings of Simonospetras.

To end this post: this is a photo of mr Herman Hissink from Holland in the 70-ties, with the Church of All Saints and Dafni seen from dirt road that leads to Simonospetras (with Xeropotamou in the background).

Next time more about the others buildings of Simonsopetras in Dafni.

Wim Voogd, 12-9-2022

Posted in 13 Simonos Petras, arsanas, Dafni, ruins | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

2247 – more information about the documentary “Adam where are you?” and an article in a Dutch magazine

On August 19th the Dutch magazine KATHOLIEK NIEUWSBLAD published this article “Getuigen van de stilte / Een intieme blik op een heilige berg” about the documentary “Adam where are you?”. You can buy the complete magazine here. For an English version go here. Furthermore the screenings of the film continue in September 2022 in these places:

1. September 6th: Nieuwkuijk

2. September 10th: Den Haag Filmhuis

3. September 11th: Oostende, Belgium, Kinepolis Oostende, tickets online

4. September 11th and 18th: De Balie Amsterdam

5. September 25th: Middelburg Cinema

6. October 8th: 14.30 h. Slieker film Leeuwarden

7. October 14th, 19.30 h: Franciscus en Clarakerk Raamstraat 78 2613 SE Delft

Wim Voogd, September 1st (thanks to Katia Novikova)

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2246 – Xiropotamou monastery: the phiale and the exo-narthex – part 3

I started my story of a visit to Xiropotamou in 2019 February this year, with an photo essay of the outside walls and drone footage (post 2234). In the next post – part 2 – I payed attention to the courtyard and the strange figure – a jaquemart – that once stood in the bell-tower.

To end this photo-essay I will take a closer look at the phiale and the exo-narthex of the Katholicon.

The phiale seen from the guesthouse – archondariki, with the corridor between the Katholicon and the trapeza behind it
The phiale with a monk walking around the church with the semantron, just before the start of the evening service
The phiale and Katholicon seen from the ground floor
The phiale, with two fellow pilgrims admiring the painted ceiling of the roof: on the stone in front a relief with a text
The bass-relief with a Greek text in a cartouche, surrounded by plant-like motives
Two pictures of the next stone plate, with a plan of the monastery on it. On the right the bell-tower with the clock, under it the small secondary gate, that leads to a kitchen garden (?) and in the middle the Katholicon. On the left side two towers show up, nowadays these towers are gone.
The ceiling of the phiale
In the middel of the dome: Christ and the 40 martyrs that surround him, and different scenes from the live of Christ.
The phiale at night with its colorfull stained glass
The corridor between the Katholicon and the trapeza with a fine marble floor

The door to the trapeza (unsharp photo!)
The door to the Katholicon
Above the door to the Katholicon: wall paintings with scenes of the death of the 40 Martyrs
The right part of the exo-narthex
Wall painting of several Saints
The door in the exo-narthex that leads to the courtyard
The same door seen from the courtyard
The left part of the exo-narthex with pilgrim Richard, looking at an extraordinary scene
The beautiful scene in the exo-narthex: a last judgement scene with Holy men, wild animals and devils, and with the Eye of God watching it in a cloud
Some of the wild animals in detail
The domes and arches with scenes from the 40 Martyrs
Harvest of grapes by Angels
Part of the courtyard walls and windows with a special detail: a cat of lion like figure
The gargoyle at the outside wall at sunset
Xiropotamou in 2019
Xiropotamou in 1918 – from a French album the aviateur
Near Xiropotamou: a hummingbird bee

This blog closes down the photo survay about the “forgotten” monastery of Athos, Xiropotamou. I discribe it as a ‘forgotten’ monastery because most pilgrims pass it on their way to Karyes of Dafni without a visit, its architecture is not the most impressive I have seen on the Holy Mountain and its reputation is that it is not very hospitable, especially for non-orthodox pilgrims, but even orthodox pilgrims complained about it. But anyway, is was worth a visit and it reveiled some interesting facts about the existance of jaquemarts on the Holy Mountain.

Wim Voogd, 20-8-2022

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2245 – fire on Athos

Saturday moring, the 6th of August, a fire broke out in the olive orchard near Arsanas Konstamonitou / the cell of Agiou Pantes, where persumeably somebody wanted to burn some branches. The latest news of today is that the fire in under control due to hard work of monks and fireman, who extinguished the fire. For more information look here (Vimas Orthodoxias in Greek).

Wim Voogd, 7-8

Posted in nature, news | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments