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

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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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2017 – Some impressions from the tourist boat today

This week my wife and I spend the holidays in Ouranoupolis at the beautiful Skites resort near the border. Today we took the tourist boat to give my wife a chance to get a glimps of the Holy peninsula after all the stories she heard. From this boat, full with women and a few men, I photographed the boat for pilgrims Agia Anna, that was so full with passengers, that not all pilgrims were allowed in. They had to take a watertaxi or wait for the afternoon boat. We sailed a bit further from the coast than I knew from the pilgrim boat, but the view was fine. Simonaspetras high up the hill. A young Russian woman covered her head and took the opportunity to pray and read spiritual texts while sailing along the Russian monastery of Panteleimonos. Praying while facing the Holy Mountain while other women were chatting and eating the food they had in their bags and feeding it to the hungry seagulls. My wife and I in front of Nea Skiti. When I am back in the Netherlands I will show photo’s from the unexpected visit of two monks from Dionysiou who came on board with icons the women could venerate.

Herman Voogd

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2016 – Chilandariou: a walk around the monastery

In this photo survey we will take a closer look at the Serbian monastery Chilandariou (or Hilandar).  My last stay in this monastery dates from 1997, some time before the dramatic fire of 2004.  I clearly remember the bats flying in the corridors at dusk and the warnings monks gave us: “don’t go in this part of the monastery, because the you might fall through the rotten floors….”. Sadly all these old parts of the building has been burnt in 2004, but on the other hand, it gave the possibility to rebuild it and make it even better then it was before. The dangerous floors of Chilandariou in 1997

Let’s have look how the monastery looks now, 20 years later, in 2017, on the outside. But first I will show you the plan of the monastery (Mylonas 2000).In red are the numbers of the pictures that I will show you below, starting with the entrance with some Serbian pilgrims and one Dutch pilgrim (smiling at the photographer).Photo 0: the entrance (Δ) and East wall (with the Savvas defence tower – E – in the background).Photo 1: the entrance (Δ and θ2 – treasury) of Chilandariou, with a electric (!) Golf car. Wouldn’t it be great if all  cars on Athos used electric energy somewhere in the future, a good choice for the invironment. The East wing – H -, still under contruction  – with cells of monks and the Savvas defence tower – E –Photo 3: the Savvas defence tower – E – and the wing where the library used the be (θ)This picture shows the librarian in 1997 (left) and the dwarf monk , the gardener at that time. Photo 4: the tower on the right is the bell tower (A1), containing two chaples: on the first the floor thechapel of Saint Johannes of Rila (ζ) and the upper floor the chapel of Saint Stephanos the Protomartyr (ε- situation in 2000).Photo 5: a detail of a window next to the towerPhoto 6: looking back long the East wingPhoto 7: the South East corner, with a chapel behind the blind wall (δ) called: “Protection by the Mother of God”Photo 8: the South wall and a gatePhoto 9 and 10: the South wall with the gate and balconiesPhoto 11: the balconies and Agios Georgios tower (Eα).Photo 12: the same tower seen from the West side – with monk’s cellsPhoto 13: a narrow shooting hole in the wallPhoto 14: looking back at the South wallPart of the plan of the West wall of the monastery, with the numbers of the photosPhoto 15: the South-West corner, with the dining room (trapeza- Γ, with the vinery below M1)Photo 16: the same spot, seen froma different angle (what might drain the white downpipe from the trapeza?)Photo 17: the West wall, partly under construction, with trapeza, the cellar for food storage and cells (M and H)Photo 18: with the guest dining room (trapeza archondarikiou – Γα) and the guest kitchen Γ1α. Nowadays the guestroom is outside the monastery.Photo 19: detail of this part of the West wall, with a wooden stairway in the cornerPhoto 20: the North West wall: the new guesthouse (archondariki) is on the left, outside the wallsPhoto 21: the North wall: the old guesthouse (M2) Photo 22: the old guesthouse – with the (former?) fire wood storage (M4) belowPhoto 23: the old guesthouse seen from the new guesthouse (with laundry drying outside) The new guesthouse used to be the workers house outside the monastery.Photo 24: the gate that leads to entrance. This is where we stop our tour around the monastery today: next time we take a closer look at the buildings outside the monastery.

Wim Voogd, 19-8-2018


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2015 – A drawing of Simonos Petras

In the winter of 2014-2015 Herman and I made a pilgrimage to Athos, with our children, his son Nathan and my sons Martijn and Laurens. It was quite a special trip, that is firmly rooted in our memories. The weather conditions were extreme. The ferry did not go on the first planned day, because of the high waves. We could go on the second day, but then it started to snow. On the first evening we went up from Grigouriou to Simonos Petras. That was the day the colour disappeared from Athos: 1660.My sons Martijn and Laurens on their first trip to Athos in front of Simonos Petras.

I did share my experiences of that special pilgrimage in several posts: i.e. the incredible snowball fight with the monks: 1664, the walk in the deep snow to Dionysiou: 1670 and the coldest night ever in Nea Skiti: 1700. Herman made some nice films: see for instance: 1658(Dionysiou – Paulou) and 1659 (entering Dionysiou).

All these memories came back, after seeing a drawing that Laurens – my youngest son – made of Simonos Petras. From the same low perspective we saw it back then,  three and a half years ago. The original drawing will be for sale next Sunday on the Museum Market in Amsterdam.


Bas Kamps

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2014 – Doors and windows by Theodosios Simonopetritis

As a reaction on posts 2011 and 2012 where I showed photo’s of doors and windows, monk and photographer Theodosios Simonopetritis mailed us a very nice collection of doors and windows made by himself. Here the doors of the wine cellar of Zografou in 2005.
A door in the Romanian skiti of Prodromou by Theodosios Simonopetritis who is a permanent resident of Simonos Petras monastery.A iron door in a house in Karyes in 2003.The entrance with the green door of the large church in Old Rossikon (Paleo Monastiro) in 2005 before the renovation. The upper level of the tower of Morfonu (Amalfi) in 2006 with bricked windows.An abandoned Russian house in Karyes in 2006.Windows at the arsanas of Prodromou in 2004.The light falls in, a window at Prodromou in 2006.Probably the same windows as above in Prodromou in 2004.The wooden chapel at Old Rossikon (Paleo Monastiro) in 2005. 
The same Russian building.

All photographs by Theodosios Simonopetritis. Many thanks for sharing them with us.

Herman Voogd

Posted in 13 Simonos Petras, Karyes, Paleo Monastiro, Prodromou | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment