2063 – 56-year-old offender was arrested for theft in the Monastery of Iviron – news from June 14th

Portaitissa icon Iviron

“After a large police operation, a thief was arrested on June 13th around 9 in the evening, who stole the votive offerings from the icon of Panagia Portaitissa at the monastery of Iviron, Mount Athos.
The offender is a 56-year-old Romanian national who was located in a forest area in the wider area of the Zograf monastery. He had also plundered other monasteries in the monastic community to the tune of at least 150,000 euros. Police said the suspect removed necklaces, jeweled medallions, crosses and as well other gold and silver items from the monastery of Agios Pavlou in December 2014. Furthermore, the investigation revealed that he had also snatched valuable items on another four occasions from monasteries on Mount Athos between November 2017 and May 2019 and sum of 4,300 euros was found. The suspect has been remanded in custody”. (news from Romfea.news and ekathimerini.com and other places on the internet)

It is unbelievable to see how some visitors of this peaceful part of the world can’t behave themselves and steal from the monasteries…

The 56-year old thief arrested by the police (taxidromos.gr)

Wim Voogd, 17-7

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2062 – Xenofontos, a photo survey within the monastery, part 3

In post 2057 and 2061 I showed the first two courtyards of Xenofontos monastery (the red letters A and B on the map below).

Today we will take a closer look at courtyard C, that lies between the new katholicon and the tower (Aα and A1).

This picture is taken on the spot C on the map above: you see the tower and a small part of the katholicon on the right. On the left is the Northern gate to the kitchen gardens and the ossuary.
Building M3: the Northern gate and right from it, the winery/distillery
Modern stainless steel maceration containers

Unfortunately I did not have the possibility to buy (and try) the Xenofontos (sweet – Nama) wines, but you can find them here.

Photo from axiarxes-monastiriaka.gr
The tower and the ugly yellow crane (seen from the katholicon)
The tower: on the right you can see the iron stairs going up to higher floor and the bells
Courtyard C, seen from the new building and the entrance to the tower
The new East wing with the recently erected buildings, with a pink dome of a chapel, seen from the tower.
The new wing, with the katholicon on the right
The katholicon, seen from the same spot
Two haut-reliefs in the new building at the red arrows: I forgot to make detailed photos the read the texts….
The Xenofontos katholicon seen from the tower
Part of the katholicon and building M3: the Northern wing and the gate to the garden/ossuary, seen from the tower
The view to the North
The sea, Sithonia and roofs, seen from the tower
An iron and wooden semantron in the tower, the floor with the bells on the gallery below
The katholicon and the South wall
The new West wing
the East/South corner with a palm tree
The new East wing: balconies and gardens with a pine
the South wall; E1
The katholicon and the exo-nathex
18-09-2018 17h.: a bulgarian photographer was allowed to make pictures during the service, we were also present (thanks http://www.afon-balkani.org)
The exo-narthex
The semantron next to the entrance to the church
The main entrance door katholicon
Stained glass in the exo-narthex
The back-side of the katholicon
Stone plaquettes
Bricks of the katholicon: build in 1819
More details found in the walls of the katholicon: 1819
Side door to the katholicon
Detail of a cherub above the door
The Xenofontos phiale
detail of the fountain
The colorful ceiling of the phiale
Later that evening: time to relax on the pier
and see the sun go down over Chalkidiki.

This ends the photo survey of Xenofontos. Next time a post about the Iviron aquaduct.

Wim Voogd, 10th of July

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2061 – Xenofontos, a photo survey within the monastery, part 2

In post 2057 I showed the first courtyard of Xenofontos monastery (the red A on the map below).

Today we will take a closer look at courtyard B, that lies between the old and new katholicon (A and Aα).

Plan of Xenofontos monastery
This is photo is shot at spot B3/A, with the old katholicon on the right and the East wing with cells in the background (building H). From here to the left the protecting wall E1 starts.
Turning the camera to the left (North), the wall continues uphill. Building N in the middle is (or used to be) the chandlery. Right from this building there is another gate.
Building N, the chandlery, and wall E1. The gate leads to the Eastern part of the monastery. Inside this gate are the mill stones and the old instruments to press and make olive oil (Rankin & Demas Smyrna).
Building N and the new katholicon (Aα)
Turning the camera 180 degrees: the old katholicon. The next picture shows us the white building you see here on the right (B3).
Building B3, the Synodical offices and the fountain B1.
Detail of building B3: beautiful brickwork and a relief/sculpture with a rams head above the entrance
A stone above the entrance door with a greek text: was this building erected 17th of March 2001?
The fountain with the double headed eagle of Byzantium and a mosaic with three deer drinking under a orange tree
The open cistern (B7) and building Γ1 – the old kitchen (now in the first courtyard A building Γ)
The open cistern and the old katholicon in the background
Next to the open cistern two stairs go down. In the background the gate Eastern in the wall.
The broader stairs on the right lead us to this wall painting and to remnants of old clay pots
The wall painting: a crowned Panaghia with the Child Jesus in a garden, surrounded by Light, Angels and buildings and a church in the top
The narrow stairs on the left leads down to……
this lower situated corridor, with numerous old oil vessels or pots
In the middle of the corridor, under a tower: more old vessels
At the end of the underground corridor, a stone stairs goes up
Looking upwards to the balconies
The tower-like building above the underground corridor, with two chapels inside: ϒ, upper level, the Dormation of the Mother of God and δ, lower level, Ioannis Theologos.
The building with the two chapels ϒ and δ.
This part of the monastery is being restored with the help of ESPA/the EU in 2014-2020 for € 9.412.260,00.
A relief with text from 1809 in the wall, difficult to translate “[…] Agiou Ioannou Theologos 1809”, the chapel on the lower level

Wim Voogd, 6/7/19

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2060 – Ferdinand Bauer, a botanical draftsman

Frontispice with Sk. Anna by Bauer

Ferdinand Bauer, a German draftsman, was hired by John Sibthorpe for an expedition to Greece to collect organic specimens that later resulted in the publication of the famous botanical work Flora Graeca Sibthorpiana.

From Imrie’s publicationthe catalogue of specimen 1817

Another member of the scientific party was Ninian Imrie, a Scotish mineralogist who took several geological specimen f.i. a piece of general rock from the highest point of the summit. Imrie stated that Athos was “beautiful beyond description”. Both Bauer and Imrie depicted Skiti Anna in 1787.

Sk. Anna

The main building of Sk. Anna which is seen on the works of Bauer and Imrie.

Drawing SK. Anna by Bauer

The original drawing by Ferdinand Bauer of Sk. Anna which is a little bit different from the image in the book.

Skiti Anna

This is how the situation is today; Skiti Anna on the west slope of Mount Athos.

Iviron by Bauer

The expedition on Athos lasted 4 days. They went from Dafni to Xeropotamou to Karyes and to Iviron. They got mules from the Iviron monastery and walked in 6 hours to Lavra. From Lavra they climbed the top and ended the journey in Sk. Anna.

the west coast by Bauer

Bauer made a few landscape drawings such as this one from the westcoast but he was hired to draw plants.

Senecio Othonnae

An example of a plant drawing by Bauer.

Herman Voogd

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2059 – A lovely watercolour of Stavronikita

This very nice drawing by English painter Edward Lear (1812-1888) was sold yesterday at Christie’s London for EUR 25.000. It is a study made with pencil and watercolour paint for a later painting. On the paper some text is visible, such as the names of colours and the word Arbutus or Strawberry tree . The words are instructions for himself when making a painting of this sketch.

On more or less the same location Lear made this painting but without the monastery. In my opinion the watercolours are much more interesting then the paintings Lear made.

Look at the fine lines and the soft colours and the texts in the upper corner. Lear made this watercolour on the 2nd of September 1856 standing on the coastal path to Pantocratoros.

In 2015 we had this view on the smallest monastery of the peninsula.

In 2019, low-hanging clouds clung on the mountains, but Stavronikita was clearly in sight. The photograph is taken just outside Pantocratoros.

Herman Voogd (thanks to Gerry Brisch)

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2058 – The glory of Agiou Andreou


The enormous skiti Agiou Andreou, with its many domes, emerged from the mist. Though merely a skiti, and belonging to Vatopedi (after the Russian period ended), it is much larger than many other monasteries on the Holy Mountain.

Inside the courtyard one can see a large building with four floors. It is in complete ruins. Pilgrims Herman and Barry wander around in the desolate scenery.

ruins Andreou

The same ruins from a different angle. Other buildings, as the red chapel, have already been restored. It is not clear what the fate of this building will be; will it be left to the elements or might it be restored? Let’s hope so.


Near one of the entrances of the guesthouse I found some flowering lilacs over a wheelbarrow.


The impressive katholicon to the left. The entrance to the trapeza is nowadays under the church.  


After entering through the central gate a square opens. To the right you will find a collection of big bells. To the left – behind some bushes – you can see a fountain that is not working. Black and white stones surround the fountain. The year of erection, 1841, is written with white stones. In those years is was a Russian skiti.

rain is coming

We left the skiti to go to Stavronikíta. We decided not to take the easy route via Ag. Nikólaos Bourazeri but instead to take the complicated route north of Andreou. In the meanwhile the weather changed. The mist concentrated to thick low clouds that reached to the surface of the earth. And it got wetter.

Read more about skiti Andreou here.  And here about the red chapel. For more historical information read this. About the Russian period see here and there.

Bas Kamps

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2057 – Xenofontos, a photo survey within the monastery, part 1

Let’s take a closer look within the monastery, starting at the entrance (Δ1 on the Mylonas map above). You will arrive in the first courtyard (A).

The entrance, seen from the first courtyard (photo is shot near spot M4)
The guesthouse

After passing the entrance you will find the archondariki or guesthouse on your right hand. In former days the guesthouse was situated in building Z2, K and K1, but it has been replaced to this part of the monastery, building H. The stairs and plants were added later and not drawn on the Mylonas-plan from 2000. The building was previous used by monks, who had their cells here.

These pictures are from the waiting room, where coffee, tsipourou (?) and loukoumi is served. Tow fine icons of Ag. Georgios and Dimitrios hang on the wall. In left a corner you will a small chapel behind closed doors.

View from the balcony of the waiting room
the balcony, later that evening
The guesthouse: a picture of a monk-beekeeper in the hallway
View from the guesthouse on the first courtyard and the old church: the kitchens are the building on the left.
Courtyard A: a fountain, a bell and the old church – katholicon
A wing of cells
The old katholicon – on the right the passage to the second courtyard (B) and on the left the corridor that leads to the trapeza and exo-narthex with its murals
The wall of the church: original brickwork and part of a mural
Courtyard A: an old iscription bricked-in in a wall
First part of the portico: Saints. Angels and the Panaghia with Child. The door leads to the church.
Left from the door: mural with nine Saints: in the middle Dimitrios and Georgios
the scenes with Ag. gerasimos and the lion and his donkey

These images above the door shows us rarely seen scenes from Ag. Gerasimos (or St. Hieromymus), who lived from 347 to 30th September 420, one of the four great church Fathers.

This is the story depicted on the walls: Gerasimos helped a lion to remove thorns from its paw and after this, to his surprize, the lion became his devoted pet. The lion was given the special task of guarding the communities donkey, which grazed along the Jordan. One day, it happened that, while the lion was napping, the donkey strayed and was stolen by a passing trader. After searching, without success, the lion returned to the monastery, it head hanging low. The brothers concluded that the lion had been overcome and had eaten the donkey and as punishment, gave the lion the job of the donkey; to carry water each from the river to the monastery in a saddle pack with four earthen jars. Months later, it happened that the trader was passing through the Jordan with the stolen donkey and three camels. The lion recognised the donkey and roared so loudly that the trader ran away. Taking its rope in his jaws, the lion led the donkey back to the monastery with the camels following behind. The monks realised that they had misjudged the lion; this is how the lion earned his name “Jordanes” from the Elder Gerasimos.

A detail of the (badly damaged) scene on the left: the traders who stole the camels, the lion and, in the right corner, the donkey

The next room or exo-narthex, that gives access to both the old church and the trapeza. The scenes resemble the ones in Dionysiou: all are from the book of John and show us the cyclus of the Apocalypse. For an extensive description of the scenes read these posts, starting at nr. 1100.

The wooden ceiling
The door to the trapeza
The trapeza during dinner on 18-09-2018: a bulgarian photographer was allowed to make pictures during the meal, we were also present (thanks http://www.afon-balkani.org)
The stairs that lead to the trapeza
A detail of the mural on the wall left: some say the image of the sun with smoke is a prediction of the “atomic” bomb. Read more in post 1126.
More scenes from chapter 8 of the Apocalypse of St. John
I turned my camera to the right and made a photo of the lower section of the next wall: also scenes from the  Apocalypse of St. John
the higher section of this wall
The door that leads to courtyard B.
Right to this door: a very different scene, the Crucifiction of Jesus In Golgotha (badly damaged)
The door to the old church
The scenes left from the door: The top scene is from John 16:13: And I saw from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs.  
Below is also from chapter 13 of St. Johns Apocalypse: “of the beast with seven heads and of a second beast”. He says in verse 2: “And the beast which I saw was like to a leopard: and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion” (more info here 1103).
Scene right from the door: the church is presented to an emperor (and his wife) ?
On the right: an angel fighting a demon or devil. On the left a city is painted with a stranger being in the air: read more about these scenes here: 1100
three Saints

Wim Voogd, 27-06 (next time more photos from courtyard B)

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