2032 – Women venerating icons on the tourist boat


There are a few tourist boats stationed in Ouranoupolis that sail along the Athos coast. Here is one in front of Xeropotamou monastery with the another tourist boat on the right. I was on board with my wife in the late summer of 2018.When we were close to Dionysiou monastery a small boat with two Athos Monks entered our tourist boat

The ship deck was cleared of chairs and tables and the monks came in with merchandise and icons.
Small icons and rosaries are on display and for sale.On the other side of the deck women were given the opportunity to venerate icons from the Dionysiou monastery. Veiled women are waiting to venerate the icons.After some time the ceremony was over and the little boat came back. In the background the Mountain and Paulou monastery.The monks entered their boat and sailed back to Dionysiou.And our tourist boat set sail back to Ouranoupolis.  

Herman Voogd

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2031 – Athos and the Second World War – part 2

In blogpost 1218 I published some pictures from the 2nd World War: most information was obtained from the German book “Athos – Forhölle des Paradis” by Erich Feigl from 1980. During my visit to Athos this year we were invited by monk T from Simonospetras, who is of German origin, and who has been collecting old pictures on his computer. I am very happy that he wanted to share these pictures from the second World War with us. Some of them are published before on this weblog, but not in the quality that I can show now. And some of them are new, like this first picture of Oberfeldwebel Hans Nageler, in his office in Karyes:

Hans Nageler in his office in Karyes
detail of last photo

The occupation of Athos by German troops started on the 6th of April 1941 and lasted until the 29th of May 1944. There were three groups of soldiers stationed on  Athos:

The house in Karyes, probably where mr Nageler had his office

A. “Feldgendarmerie”, first stationed in Karyes, from Februari 1944 in Simonaspetras, consisting of 8 soldiers, with the names: 

  1. Hans Nageler, Oberfeldwebel, Austrian, 
  2. Heink, Oberfeldwebel
  3. Gobana, Oberfeldwebel
  4. Nitsche, Feldwebel
  5. Lorbecher, Unteroffizier
  6. Heinrich von Fürer-Heimendorf – soldier 
  7. and 8.: names are unknown

B. “Beobachtingsgruppe”, stationed in Prodromou, with a concrete/stone flak position above in the hills, consisting of 4 or 5 soldiers

  1. Böse, Feldwebel
  2. 3. 4. and 5.(?) unknown

C. Wissenschaftliche Kommission “Sondercommando Rosenberg”, traveling over Athos from 5-5-1941 til 8-8-1941, consisting of 4 Germans and 2 Greek members:

  1. Prof. Dr. Franz Dölger, Sonderstab Athos,
  2. Pg. Anton Deindl, Religionswissenschafter, Sonderstab Athos,
  3. Dr. Otto Treitlinger, Wissenschaftlicher Hilfskraft, 
  4. mr Kreß, Stabfeldwebel, spezial Fotograf
  5. Dr. Siotis from Athens and
  6. mr Tsingiritis, interpreter 
Iviron beach 29-05-1944

The last day of Germans troops on Athos: 

with Gebauer, Nageler, Heink, Nitsche, the interpreter Aristomeni, father Jaochim and Lorbecher. The interpreter Aristomeni has a lot of female features (!?).

Father Joachim, of Rumenian-Austrian origin,  here in 1982. After the war he was a good friend of mr Nageler. Behind him a portret of the Rumenian king Michael.

Oberfeldwebel Hans Nageler (R) and Unteroffizier Lorbecher (left-with binoclulars) drinking a glass in a friendly atmosphere: although the army was called several times because of partisan activities, there was never any gunfire during the German occupation on Athos.

The photo’s above are from April 16th 1944, the Easter celebrations on Athos. We see a special guest, Dr. Markull, the German “Militair verwaltungsoberrat” in Macedonia. The representatives from Lavra, Konstamonitou, Dionysiou and from Panteleimonos, father Basilios (with round glasses) are also present. 

Father Basilios played a special role in the occupation of Athos during WW2. He is the one who came with the initiative to ask Hitler to place Athos under special protection, to prevent the Germans robbing valuable pieces of art, old books and icons. He was the one who wrote the letter to Hitler on 13/26 April 1941, signed by the Holy Epistatia. Hitler granted this request and nothing was taken from the Holy Mountain.  I understand that father Basilios was punished later for his role, but I do not have any futher information about this misfortune…

The only sad exception on the relatively calm occupation of Athos by the Germans was on July 9, 1942, when at its own initiative eight German soldiers plundered the monastery of St. Xenophon.

The others persons on the first photo above are:

mr Palmos, head of the Greek police,

mr Gerhajas, “Wirtschafts-verwaltungsrat”,

Dr. Hecht, Kriegsgerichtsrat – war judge (front left) and behind him

Hans Nageler.

Easter in Karyes 1944 with the Axion Esti icon procession
Another photo of father Basilios from Panteleimonos (on your right)

Mr Nageler and two other soldiers on a kaik near Dafni (Xeropotamou)

The small marine unit (Beobachtungsgruppe) of Feldwebel Böse in Ouranopolis (formerly known as Pyrgos), on 23th of March 1944 with (Greek?) field policeman from Karyes – in different uniforms – and a unknown woman and a man. The building (arch) in Ouranopolis still exists today, to the left of the coffee shop of Tsirbas (thanks monk T for your comment wv 12/12).

detail from the last photo

Mr Nageler and a second German soldier in a room with a portret of the Rumenian king Carol I 

detail of photo above

Good relations between Russian monks and German soldiers: father Benjamin (a Kosak from Don) spoke fluently German. 

Three German soldiers posing in front of a portret a Adolf Hitler om the wall: Christmas 1943

The famous incident with the Junckers Ju-57 on the beach of Agiou Pavlou: the water plane had to make an emergency landing and one of the crew members was a “luftwaffenhelferin” – a woman. The compromise willing monks build a small hut on the beach where she could stay, in this way she would not touch the holy Athos ground with her feet! 

Two German soldiers rifles and with a monk near a kellion – farm

Mr Nageler and and mr. Lorbecher with a monk and a novice

Two German soldiers in Karyes

Two soldiers in the olive grove near Stavronikita

Mr Nageler and an a soldier at kellion “97”.

German soldiers in front of the building that is now the konaki of Simonospetra in Karyes, build in 1876, with a small dog. At that time it was probably the seat of the Greek Governor, that was taken over by the Germans.

detail of the last photo 

At the konaki: a group of five soldiers.

Three soldiers on mules

The last photo from the second World War that was shared with us by monk T: the interior of the Serail, Skiti Agiou Andreas church.

Wim Voogd, 9/12/2018

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2030 – new and old Athos books

Every time before I go for pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain I drop by my favorite bookstore of mr Drosinos in Ouranopoli, who established his store in 1974. 

Drosinos bookshop 

Mr Drosinos and his staff are very helpfull and patient and most of the time when I go there they know how to surprize me with a new edition of an Athos-book. This year I saw a new book about Athos wines (which subject I wrote about many times on this weblog), but unfortunately for me, the book in the shop was in Greek.  But the staff asked me to come back later that afternoon, because they were sure that the book was also published in English. And they were right, they found the English version for me,

  1. so here it is: 
Eleni Kefalopoulou: Mount Athos Wine 2018

I bought the book “Mount Athos Wine – The history of Winemaking in The Holy Mountain” by Eleni Kefalopoulou, published in August 2018, 189 pages, for € 35,00 and you can order it also here.

Picture from Eleni Kefalopoulou’s website                                    

2. the second new book that was published this year is only in Greek, but it I show it anyway because it is about Athos bridges, the subject of my previous post – 2029 (thanks japetus-gr).

The book is written by Stelios Mouzakis: “Stonebridges and bridges on Mount Athos” 2018 with ISBN9786188348820, 154 pages, € 17,00 on the internet.

3. the third new Athos book is novel, published in March 2018: William Capitan – “Mists on Mt. Athos”, 166 pages, ISBN1984512161. 
From a diescription on the internet: “A first-generation Greek American struggles with conflicts between his Greek heritage and the secular world. He meets Pan, a Greek American comfortable with his heritage. Despite differences, they bond and travel to Mt. Athos”.

So far the new books, now I will show some old books that I have discovered on the internet.

4.  Geoffrey Winthrop Young, The Grace of Forgetting, 1914-18, published in 1953, 352 pages: a book about the travels of the author after the First WW.  He also visits Athos: read more here.

5. almost ten years ago Herman published about this book Album du Mont-Athos 1928 by Etienne Kelliotes in post 422 . I found some new photo’s to add:


Etienne Kelliotes – Leykoma tou Agiou Orous Athos
Karyes 1928

6. Valentin, The Monks of Mount Athos, 1960. In post 154 we showed you some images form this book, 11 years ago. I will add two pictures from the book, with the remark that there must be a film made in 1960, that I could not find on the internet. Nathaniel found the film for us on YouTube! (thanks, Wim 5-12)!

Thanks Nathaniel! 5/12/18 – the film is from the 50-ties last century.

7.  a book by W. Papel Hamsher – “The Balkans by bicycle”, 1937. The author drove by bicycle from Vienna – Athos – to Istanbul. 

A wooden cross (maybe above Simonopetra?)
Simonopetra 1937

8. Benz Ernst: “Patriarch und Einsiedler – Der tausendjährige Athos und die Zukunft der Ostkirche”. Eugen Diederichs Verlag, Düsseldorf-Köln 1964

9. Takis Tloupas: “A Photographic Itinerary On Mount Athos, 1969”: published 16-9-2001

10. Robin Amis – Views from Mount Athos 2014, read a review here .

11. Photo’s by Monk Chariton, Images of Athos, 1997, 399 pages

12. a text by Hieromonk Stephane and drawings of T.G. Gayer-Anderson: the Album of the Views of Mount Athos 1913 (or 1918?)

13. a page from the magazine “Allgemeine Illustrirte Zeitung” from Germany 1866:

Karyes and Koutloumousiou in 1866

14. a page from the French magazine “A travers le monde” from 16 november 1895

Les Couvents du Mont Athos

Wim Voogd, 3-12-2018

(for an updated book title list, see post 1900)

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2029 – two old bridges and the lost coast path between Iviron and Lavra

In post 1617 my brother Herman payed attention to the old path that connected the monasteries Iviron and Lavra before the dirt road was build, probably just before 1968, when Athos celebrated its 1000th anniversary.  The old kalderimi path is almost totally distroyed, only small parts remain, especcially near the few bridges that are still in situ.

The location of the two bridges

Together with monk T from Simonopetra monastery we tried to find a few of these remnants of the path, that led over a couple of typical Athos bridges. The first bridge is in a small bay between arsanas of Filotheou and Karakallou. The bay has no name, according to the Holworth pilgrim map.

The location of the first bridge 
The first bridge between arsanas Filotheou and Karakallou, seen from the dirt road

You have climb down to take a closer look:

The bridge, looking to to West, seen from the beach
The bridge, looking to the East/the sea
Standing on the bridge

No parts of the old path remains here. Near the beach the old walls of some houses are to seen:

Google Earth show us the remnants of ol houses 

The next bridge is in the so called Megálos Velás valley, located not far from Lavra.

The Megálos Velás bridge (from the Holworth map)
A small road, accessible to cars, leads to this bridge. Turquoise and dark blue seas welcome you.
Looking at the other direction: Megálos Velás river
The Megálos Velás valley
Goolle maps show the walls of a ruined large boathouse (?) and a chapel
The ruins of a large building
The chapel
The chapel next to the ruined building
The Megálos Velás bridge
The chapel seen from the bridge, with a ruined house above it
The beach seen from the bridge
The bridge seen from the beach
The ruined house

I tried to go up to have a closer look at the house, and then a found a part of the old coast path, but the path was overgrown and the house was
inaccesable.

The beginning of the old path
The old path

This is as far I could go on the old path, to try to get to the ruined house. Maybe this a new task for the FoMA foothpath group, to clear this part of the old hiking route (although it is only a very short part of the disappeared monopati)? 

Wim Voogd, 2-12-2018

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2028 – arsanas Prodromou

In post 2018 I showed you the pictures from Athos made in the Second World War by German soldiers. The photo’s  triggered me, not only to find the German flak position somewhere above the hills of the Prodromou area, but also to see the arsanas of Prodromou. This spot on the Holy Mountain is visited very rarely, let alone that photos of it are known to the public. So my main goal of my 12th pilgrimage to Mount Athos in August this year was to pay visit to this remote place.

Before I will show my pictures I have thank monk T. from Simonospetras, who was so hospitable and generous to drive us around for a day to go (in 1,5 hour from his monastery) all the way to the arsanas (and many other places, which I will show later!).This is picture from the arsanas in WWII. The arsanas building is still intact.  This is how it looks in 2018:The roof of the arsanas building has disappeard. The building on the hill above is in ruins. Futhermore the building (?) on the far left of the old picture, that stood on the rocks near the surf is totally gone.Let’s have a closer look at the arsanas, but first I will show you the (dangerous) road we had to take with the four-wheel drive Jeep. This is the road we had to go (detail from the Holworth map).arsanas Prodromou Holworth mapNot far behind the Prodromou skiti a small road goes down, where only one car can pass, because it is very narrow. If you go down the only place where you turn the car is at the end of this steep dead end street. This was without doubt one of the most exiting trips in a car I ever made. A few hundred meters before we reached the end monk T. asked us to get out of the car and to explore the road (not knowing if there was a place to turn the car!). I added the kalderimi that leads from the ruined house and parking spot to the arsanas with a blue line. The arsanas itself cannot be reached by car.Although this picture is not sharp, I want to show how we checked the steep road on foot, before going down by car to arsanas Prodromou.At the and of the narrow road: a place to turn the car and a ruin of a houseThe ruined houseFrom here a kalderimi path goes down to the sea and leads to the arsanasOn this rocky spot close to the coastline the remains of walls are visible. On the photo from the WWII you can still see a house (?) standing on the place.The path continues to the harbor. The familiar Athos warning sign with the faded text is also to be seen here…Here the arsanas is in sight, while rough waves batter the rocks.The other walls of the arsanas with a boat and concrete mixing machineThe arsanas with high waves flowing in, with boathouse cut into the rocks in the backgroundWaves rolling in, seen from the other sideThe boathouseThe boathouse seen from the inside, with the sad remains of plastic bottles and styrofoam boxesAt the end of the tunnel: the made made walls stop here and bare rock showes upThe place behind the wooden door in the far end is still in use and locked:Behind the wooden door: a rubber boat, tools and other thingsAn often used cooking panA weathered and rusted iron ring and poleRusted chains hang from the ceiling Above the entrance of the boathouse: a stone from 1853 with tekst: “The arsanas of the Rumenean skiti Prodromou on the Mount Athos”.Old tins in a plastic basket The collapsed roof of the building next to the harborThe wall of this building More pictures of the ruined buildings here.The narrow road going up: pilgrim Jitze checks the road in front.On our way back to Prodromou: the desolate landscape in the direction of Lavra. No trees are te be seen, only low vegetation and bushes, probably because of the strong winds that blow here throughout the year.Back at skiti Prodromou: seen from the place that might have been the German flak position, but this a subject for a next post.

Wim, 24-11

PS. for a funny story about a wind-surfer who sails around Europe (and Athos!) and who found shelter and slept in arsanas Prodromou, have a look here, thanks japetus-gr. 1-12 Wim

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2027 – Are parts of the Xerxes Canal still visible?

Aerial view of the location of the Xerxes Canal by Google Maps where I marked the probable beginning (Xerxes with his fleet came from the East) and the ending of the canal near Tripiti. Roughly the course of the canal is identical to the road Ierissos (Nea Roda) – Agios Oros (Ouranoupolis).This map from a scientific article about the location of the canal shows that the beginning of the canal could be left and right from the Nea Roda Graveyard. Scientists dug for evidence in 1991 and 2000.

This map from 1883 is an impression of the canal where there are some swampy parts are to be seen. On the left,  a winding river,  coming from the direction of Ierissos and also visible on Google maps.When I was in Nea Roda in the summer of 2018 I searched in vain for a sign or explanation of the exact location of the canal. But instead I found this stream on the beach. Directly left of the stream, not visible on the photo, is the Nea Roda Graveyard. So according to the scientific map this could well be the right spot of the beginning of the canal.

The ending of the canal is somewhere around the Tripiti harbour where the ferry to Amouliani Island is located. Also the berths of some Mount Athos taxi boats and ferries.So the conclusion is that there is not much to be seen of the Xerxes Canal nowadays except the stream next to the graveyard. If you want so see a real canal which divides a peninsula you have to travel to Cassandra, the first of the three Chalkidiki peninsulas, the canal at Nea Potidea.

Herman Voogd

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2026 – How to preserve and keep the ancient paths of Mount Athos?

Greece has a long tradition in preserving ancient heritage. Even old roads, such as this one,  leading to Thessaloniki are kept in good condition for the future. This road is in the Museum of Modern Art in Thessaloniki. This nicely restored road or path is located in the archaeological site of the ancient village of Akanthos, nowadays Ierissos close to the Athos border. 
Alongside the old walls of Thessaloniki workers are building a road in ancient style.On Mount Athos there are many old roads and paths (monopati or kalderimi) such as this one, close to Karakallou.Or this beautiful path in the Profitou Elias region. But the Mount Athos paths are vulnerable. This path is partly destroyed by water erosion.There are other natural causes that can damage the paths. Here an old tree avalanche, now overgrown by vegetation,  between Prodromou and Lavra has destroyed the path over a length of 15 meter. But the worst problem is that the paths are threatened by human intervention. Such as the use of metal walking sticks without plastic caps or rubber tips. The scratches on the photo are made by metal tips and are damaging the stones of the paths. In the trekking paradise Machu Picchu, Peru the use of walking sticks without rubber tips is not allowed!But what really has to stop is the bulldozing of the old paths. This is what is left of a path in the centre of the peninsula. Some stones are still there but most of the path is gone forever. The path has become a dirt road.
So stop making new roads and preserve the old paths for the future.

Herman Voogd

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