Father Makarios from Maroudá kellion, 70 years old, one of the most hospitable and friendly monks of the Holy Mountain, was infected with COVID-19 this summer and luckily survived the severe effects of the Corona virus, although he approched death, as he said in footage of Reuters. He is now also vaccinated now. This is what he said about vaccinations:
Of cource we have faith in God and God protects us […], but science is something in de hands of God, God enlightens the scientists so they can protect humanity.
What a wise man he is, I hope to visit him soon, hopefully next year (also see post 1775, with pictures from five years ago).
Update 16/11: Abbot Bartholomew from the Esfigmenou monastery in Karyes said the following on the radio on November 12th: “We have issues with the fraudulent certificates that are trying to enter Mount Athos and they do not care if these people are positive or if they will transmit the virus. Many, mainly from Romania, have been found with fraudulent certificates or putting antiseptic on their noses and so that they test negative after the rapid test, which is a requirement before entering Mount Athos. That means they are more disciplined because they are from another country.”- source Orthodoxtimes.com.
Update 4/11: Orthodoxtimes.com says on 3/11 that Mount Athos is plunged into an unprecedented health crisis. There are at least 50 COVID infections, with some raising the number to 70! In just one day last Saturday, 8 cases were recorded. Among the last victims of the coronavirus is the monk Dionysios from the cell of Kartsonai in the skete of Saint Anne. Monk Panteleimon from Saint Anne was intubated, while a few days ago Fr. Prodromos from Karyes and one of his subordinates had to be intubated.
According to Mount Athos, the whole situation is aggravated by Romanian pilgrims who have been reaching Mount Athos in large numbers lately and have devised various ways to be able to pass the rapid tests they are forced to undergo upon entering the monastic state.
28/10/2021: An increase in coronavirus cases has been observed on Mount Athos in recent days and several monks are being treated in hospitals in northern Greece. Today the proposal to close Mount Athos and forbid the access of pilgrims will be on the table at the Holy Epistatia. The monasteries of Pantokratoros, Xenofontos, Vatopedi and the skiti of the Profitou Elias are already closed. In Vatopedi, there are even 12 cases of coronavirus among monks who are isolated.
At least three monks from monasteries and skitis are being treated in hospitals in Thessaloniki. One of them, a 50-year-old from Agia Anna, is intubated and his condition is characterized by doctors as particularly critical. The coronavirus is spreading rapidly on Mount Athos due to the coenobitic lifestyle of the monks, who all eat together and live in shared accommodation. In many cases, they do not seek medical attention in a timely manner and refuse to be hospitalized. Due to the inaccessibility of the area and the distance between the monasteries, it is difficult to determine the exact number of cases. Some monasteries are taking a hard line on the issue of health protocols, while others are taking no action. Pilgrims stated that they were not allowed to enter a monastery because they were wearing a mask. The monks told them that they could wear the masks “at the carnival of Patras, but not on Mount Athos”. In another monastery, they told the pilgrims that if they do not take off the mask, they would not receive tsipouro and sweets. In the Athonite State there is great concern about the course of business and a possible travel ban, also in connection with the arrival of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeou on November 26-28.
On September 14th skai.gr already reported that 1000 monks had been infected by the corona virus and eight had died. Only 20% of the monks had been vaccinated. Note: this news has not been confirmed by others sources.
On Youtube you can see the official trailer of an Ukraine documentary (1h 20 min), made by director Alexander Zaporoshchenko and produced by Alexander Pliska. The project started in 2005 in Docheiariou monastery, with the blessing of the now deceased gérontas Grigórios and ended in 2019. The release of the film was planned for this summer in Eastern Europe, but because of COVID-19 the movie’s premiere is delayed until this authemn. When the premiere in the West will follow is uncertain, because until now they did not find any distributor who is interested (but the trailer is also in Dutch !). We will follow the developments.
Monk Theodosios made some beautiful drone images of the northern part of Mt. Athos. Posts 2216, 2217 and 2219 covered the east coast, now we’ll take a closer look at the harbors and towers at the west coast. Here you can find the arsanas of Sografou monastery and only 600 meter further lies the arsanas of Konstamonitou monastery. First I’ll show you the pictures of arsanas Konstamonitou.
The KEDAK paper The Towers of Mount Athos from 2002 says that in former times the Palaiopyrgos (the Old Arsenal Tower) and the actual Konstamonitou arsenal served the needs of two small monasteries, Xerokastrou and Calligrafou, both of them presently extinct. The old tower provided its defences and the arsenal its berthing facilities. Historical evidence shows that the Old Tower was build before the tower of Sografou monastery, constructed in 1475, 200 meters to the west, and the actual arsenal of Konstamonitou, 400 meters to the east, which was constructed in 1763. It was the further development of the latter that eventually led to the Old Arsenal Tower becoming derelict.
The Xerokastrou was located somewhere between Megali Jovanitsa and the arsenal of Sografou. The Calligrafou was located nearer to the other monasteries, to the east an close to the arsenal of Konstamonitou.
On the left you can see the masonry ruins of the makeshift arsenal at the foot of the Old Tower.
Could this be a remnant of the lost monastery Xerokastrou between Megali Jovanitsá and arsanas Sografou (see the red arrow)?
Today’s reports from Athos monks who keep a Facebook account (father Athanasios Karouliotis and Efthymios Volonakis-Vouleftiriotis) and from Vima Orthodoxias (in Greek) tell about the fire that broke this morning, the 7th of September 2021, that started near the harbor in a remote and inaccessible ravine near Mikra Agia Anna. The monks and workers opened a fire zone so that the fire would not pass into the ravine, where there are many cells. After many efforts and with the help of the Fire Brigade, they managed to reduce the fire, despite the strong wind (beaufort 6/7). Airplane and helicopters also helped to extinguish to flames.
Luckily the Holy Mountain was spared this year from serious forest fires, something you unfortunately can’t say about other parts of greece, where the fires have caused great damage and much human suffering, like on Evia.
Wim Voogd, 7/9 (thanks to Vasílis de Grote, who closely follows Facebook reports about Athos)
I really thought I had seen quite a lot of Athos and its settlements and buildings (except from the farmhouses-kellia). So I was really surprized that the drone-images from monk Theodosios had something new in store, as can see on the images at the end of this post. But here are first some images from arsanas Chilandariou and the Milutin tower:
The next pictures from the drone are taken at the spot below on the map near Esfigmenou, along the Athos costline. This place is seldomly visited by pilgrims, because there is a dead end road to the chapel Ag. Theódori. But there are interesting objects to be found along the coast near Esfigmenou, as the pictures below will soon show us.
On this part of the coast Theodosios discovered two interesting objects, situated here:
The question is why these two walls were build along the Athos coast: the first one cannot be reached by land and they both are near to eachother and on a very remote place. What could be their purpose? Clearly they are not in use anymore because they are crumbling down, but on the other hand they are not not totally ruined, at the harsh conditions where they are situated, next to the sea and at the shore, with its crashing waves. I could not find a plausible answer to these questions.
Monk Theodosios came with the idea that these walls have been build by fishermen, who used the walls to dry their nets. This could be, but why are they so high? And why on such desolate places? And why are these two walls exactly at this spot and why are there no other examples along the (Athos) coast (as far as I know)?
Does anyone have a plausible explanation?
Wim Voogd, 25/8
Thanks to all the wise and helpfull reactions of our readers, with an extensive investication about the subject by Japetus (worthwhile to read!), and also thanks to Vasílis/Efraim, “Byz history Tweep” and Keliotis), who also gave an answer to my question.
Japetus wrote in his first comment: These are ‘thinnoskopeia’, tuna fish watch towers. A monk would climb on top in order to observe the sea for flocks of fish. Other monks in boats carrying nets, were ready for his signal and as soon as they would hear it, they would row fast to encircle the flock between them. There is another one of these watchtowers near Agia Anna, known as ‘Thynni’.
This is a picture from mine archive of the Thynni of near the arsanas of Agia Anna, made 2015.
Sorry, this painting has been sold in one day! 25/08/2021
We proudly present another co-operation between Athosweblog and the Greek artist Christos Baloukos. After the presentation of a couple of watercolors with a 50% discount from August 2020 (still some available at our shop), we can now present the first oil-painting made by Christos.
The special thing about this oil-painting is that is made from a picture from the Athosweblog photo archive (more then 15.000 pictures). Some of of our best photos we shared with Christos and this is the first result:
This painting is unique, so there are no other copies of this work of art. The size is 40×50 cm. You can order them directly from mr. Baloukos at this e-mail adress: firstname.lastname@example.org. He will take care of the payment by Paypal and the shipping. Also have look at his Facebook and his website.
The prize for our readers for an original Baloukos oil-painting is € 500,00 (including shipping).
On the 3th of March 2021 Theodosios launched his drone on the pristine beach of Agiou Vasilíou, in the neighbourhood of arsanas Chilandaríou and the small island (νησί-nisi in Greek) also called Ag. Vasilíou.