1954 – Edward Lears watercolours for sale

Three watercolours by English artist Edward Lear are for sale at Christies on 8 december 2017. Lear made more than 50 drawings on Mt Athos in 1856. Every now and then they appear on the market. The drawings are very nicely made with pen and pencil, waterpaint and brown ink. Lets view the locations up close.The main entrance of Vatopedi is not that much changed over the years. Fernand Cuville made an early colour photograph (autochrome) of the Vatopedi entrance in 1917. On the left there is a chimney now.This is how the entrance looks nowadays, photo H. Voogd.This is a nice angle on the entrance of Lavra. Behind the entrance is the kiosk where pilgrims sit, talk and smoke with a nice view on the island of Thasos. See the battlements on the top of the wall on the right. I could not find the exact location in my photo library. This was the best I could get. The tree in the middle is almost entirely blocking the view on the kiosk, only a small part of is to be seen. In the background the tower of the arsanas which looks not far but is a half hour walk. The man in front is standing on the helipad.lavra entrance by baskampsThe Lavra entrance and the kiosk by Bas Kamps in 2017.lear StavronikitaThe monastery of Stavronikita by Edward Lear, with the aqueduct on the left.Cuville took another position to make his autochrome of Stavronikita in 1917.Here is the aqueduct of Stavronikita in 2015.

More on Edward Lear, visit A Blog of Bosh.

Herman Voogd

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1953 – the wild Mylopotamos river

This video (by Keliotes) of the Mylopotamos river near Filotheou is made yesterday. A lot of rain is recently fallen in Greece.On the very accurate and up to date Athos map of Peter Howorth (order at http://www.filathonites.org/) the course of the river is to be seen. The bridge in the video is probably next to the U of HEOU in the left bottom corner.
In summer the river is mostly a tiny stream. Here it is, right under the (wine)house below. Next to the green rocks at the beach is the rivermouth.

Herman Voogd

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1952 – Discovering the old path to the Lavra harbour

The Lavra monastery has a very nice harbour, worthwhile to visit. Imagine, this was for centuries the place where all visits to the monastery began.  Untill the 1970ties there was only a long path for pilgrims and mules from Karyes to the monastery but that took several hours. This blogpost will point out the old track/monopati from monastery to harbour, the red line on the picture above. It is better to avoid the obvious but boring dirtroad, also clearly to be seen on the photo, which my brother Wim shot when he flew with a Cessna over the peninsula in 2017.At the main entrance turn left and follow the monastery walls,  keeping left. Go to the right when the long wall makes a left turn. You enter an olive grove. The path is not very visible and if you encounter a fenced area with beehives you have to go back to find the path again.Walk the path allongside the olive trees till you stumble on the regular dirtroad. Cross the dirtroad and look for the old path again. There are no signs and there is some vegetation but the path is easy to continue.Here the path is still nicely paved with stones lying there for centuries. Many pilgrims have walked here but now you will be on your own.Flowers and plants are growing on the cobbled path. The tower of the arsanas is sometimes visible between the dense vegetation. Then suddenly the path ends, the last part is destroyed by the construction of the dirt road.
100 years ago, in 1917, a small chamber was still attached to the tower but most of the buildings are looking still  the same. (photo by Millet)Still some woodwork is seen on the place where the small chamber used to be.
It is nice to walk around the arsanas where the boathouses are in ruins but still in use.  Then you have to climb back to the monastery taking the same path as you came.

Herman Voogd

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1951 – Approaching Xenofontos from the south

Walking the coastal path from Panteleimonos to the south the monastery of Xenofontos comes in sight. This is  a photograph by Millet, who made pictures in 1917 when he was on Athos with the French army.When Millet came closer, the huge walls of the monastery became visible.Then the beautiful monopati comes to an end and it is only a couple of yards to the monastery.The party of Dutch teacher Herman Hissink probably had the same feeling in the 1970ties when they walked the same path, enjoying the nice view on the monastery and happy that they were almost there.These pilgrims in 2017 missed the experience of walking the very nice path, right behind them, because they reached Xenofontos by boat. The house in front that was not there in 1917 but in one piece in the 70ties is now rebuild in 2017. Photo by Wim Voogd.

Herman Voogd

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1950 – Athos in French magazine “Le Miroir”

In 1917  a French Russian army occupied Mount Athos. On this picture from the French magazine Le Miroir a soldier, two monks and a Greek policeman are posing for the photographer, not at the monastery of Panteleimonos, as is suggested in the text, but in the harbour of the monastery of Lavra. 100 years later I photographed the same spot. The harbour is not as lively anymore as it was in the Great War. Hardly any boats are coming to this arsanas. The pilgrims nowadays come by mini-bus to the Lavra monastery.When the allied soldiers entered Mount Athos in 1917 they found 500 enemy rifles with ammunition made in Austria. They burned the weapons on the spot.  French officers were invited at the monastery of Zografou for dinner with the monks. Le Miroir 4th March 1917.The following images are from after the war (Le Miroir 9th November 1919) and , more importantly, after the Russian revolution. The Russian monastery Panteleimonos is still in full swing. Thousands of monks are living in and around the monastery. They have their own dentist. But from now on there will be no new monks coming from Russia. Monks are painting icons in Panteleimonos.Monks are making candles in Panteleimonos.Tailor monks in Panteleimonos.
In the 1990ties only a couple of monks were left in the monastery. With the end of Sovjet Russia it all changed again and it seems that old times are returning. The buildings of Panteleimonos are completely renovated and the pilgrims are back.
2017: Russian pilgrims are leaving Panteleimonos and waiting for the boat.

Herman Voogd

Posted in 19 Panteleimonos, arsanas, war | Tagged , | 1 Comment

1949 – Tsipras, the avaton and other politics

According to a Flemish website, called Kerknet, the avaton on Athos is threatened by a Greek law considering gender (October 15th 2017). The avaton is the ban of women on the Holy Mountain.tsipras-alexis_533_355 op Athos
Prime Minister Tsipras in happier times visits the monastic Republic in 2014.

But more recently, in the end of September 2017, the Prime Minister of Greece was refused access to the Holy Mountain, so states the Greekreporter.com.  The refusal to welcome him was because Tsipras declared himself an atheist. The monks didn’t want to greed him as a PM, but only as a private pilgrim. In the end Tsipras cancelled the visit due to a “busy program”. Probably the arousal about the new Greek gender law played a part in the background.

Now there seems to be an even more serious problem. The legislation on the gender law already went through the Greek parliament. The Guardian writes on the tenth of October, that “Greece’s leftwing government has passed legislation enabling citizens to determine their gender identity amid fierce condemnation from the Orthodox church and accusations the law would “destroy human beings”.”

So women could, if they consider themselves man, have their registration changed without an operation. And with that registration the women would have the right to access the male world of Athos. As I understand it the law would be relevant to a very tiny group of trans people that want a sex registration compatible with their feeling. I just can’t imagine that this law has a further implication to get  general access to the Holy Mountain.

But the monks are not so sure and very much afraid the law would break the avaton. According to the Telegraph: “The heads of the monasteries wrote a letter to the Greek government, expressing their concerns over the consequences of the new law.

“In light of this legislation, we are full of unease as to what the future holds for us,” they said.

“It is another violation of God’s law, just like existing legislation which permits cohabitation agreements between same-sex couples. If we do not resist, then our ancestors will rise from their graves.”

Bas Kamps

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1948 – article in Greek newspaper Ethnos about your webmaster and Athosweblog.com by Maria Ritzaleou

Soon after our last year’s pilgrimage I got in contact with Maria Ritzaleou, a Greek journalist who read our weblog and who wanted to interview me about my reasons and motives to visit the Holy Mountain and why I have been publishing about it for more then 10 years. This is what the header says

“The Dutch… loyal to the Holy Mountain”

New Doc 2017-10-30

Wim Voogd or Bím Boukvt, 30/10

Translation in Dutch (thanks to two of our appreciated readers):


‘Elk bezoek van mij aan de Heilige Berg is een nieuwe ervaring die ik met zoveel mogelijk internet-vrienden ‘wil delen’, verklaart de 60-jarige Wim Voogd’

Hij is een Nederlander, van protestantse overtuiging, en stelt de Heilige Berg voor aan duizenden gebruikers van het internet, elk jaar, van de V.S. en Rusland tot aan … Qatar, Hawaï en Indonesië. Wim Voogd, tegenwoordig juridisch adviseur van AirBnB in Amsterdam, bezocht de Athos-gemeenschap voor het eerst in 1980 als student, en sindsdien heeft hij het tot 11 bezoeken gebracht, het laatste de afgelopen zomer. Voor het eerst vloog hij met een éénmotorig vliegtuig type Cessna en vereeuwigde hij het panorama van de kloosters, maar ook de eenzame eremiet Jozef die op de rotsen van Kaap Akrathos staat, boven een afgrond van driehonderd meter diep, en een reusachtige vlag van Byzantium omhoog houdt telkens wanneer vliegtuigen van de luchtmacht overkomen.

In 2006 kwam Voogd op het idee een blog te maken om de wereld met ‘de rijkheid, de magie en de betovering’ van de Heilige Berg kennis te laten maken.

‘Het athosweblog heeft geen zuiver religieus karakter, mijn doel is de mensen aan de uiteinden van de aarde, en vooral vrouwen, de omgeving, het isolement, de speciale levenswijze van de monniken te tonen. Ik ben gelukkig dat het aantal gebruikers elk jaar groeit, zodat we inmiddels het record-aantal van 160.000 ‘hits’ hebben bereikt, afkomstig van 36.500 gebruikers, in zo veel verschillende landen van de vier werelddelen, elk jaar,’ vertelt de 60-jarige advocaat aan Ethnos.

Zijn oorspronkelijke idee was om een blog op te zetten waardoor alle mensen die zich ver van Griekenland bevonden, ook de vrouwen, de tuin van de Panagia leerden kennen, met de 20 kloosters, de tientallen monnikengehuchten (skiti’s) en de kluizenaarshutten, het dagelijks leven van de monniken, de zeldzaam mooie en wilde voetpaden, de flora en de fauna.

De rondleiding gaat vooral door middel van foto’s, waarbij de korte teksten als begeleiding dienen, als ‘legenda’. De meeste worden geschreven door Wim Voogd zelf, [maar ook] zijn broer Herman en vrienden van het blog die de Heilige Berg bezoeken en vervolgens met hem in contact komen.


In 2014 beklom de 60-jarige Nederlander de top van de Athos en tamelijk lang was hij niet in staat woorden te vinden voor alles wat hij zag. Hij had het gevoel de hemel aan te raken, stak zijn armen omhoog om de wolken te strelen en wilde zich ‘in de ongerepte jungle onderdompelen’.

‘In geen enkel ander deel van de wereld bestaat die harmonie van natuur, geschiedenis, architectuur, maar ook gastvrijheid. Daar waar geen radio en televisie, internet of normale verbinding met de buitenwereld bestaan, communiceren de monniken en de bezoekers met het woord en vaak met de ogen. Elk bezoek van mij aan de Heilige Berg is een nieuwe ervaring, omdat ik iets nieuws/bijzonders ontdek. En dat ‘iets’ wil ik met zoveel mogelijk internetvrienden van me delen,’ verklaart hij.

Reisgenoot op de meeste tochten van Wim Voogd is zijn broer Herman, mede-beheerder van het blog. Zijn vlucht met de Cessna dit jaar is hem cadeau gedaan door zijn echtgenote en zijn twee dochters, 18 en 23 jaar oud, voor zijn 60e verjaardag.

‘Het maakt niet uit wát je mee terug neemt wanneer je van de Heilige Berg vertrekt, het volstaat dát je iets brengt. Je religieuze achtergrond is niet belangrijk,’ zei jaren geleden een eremiet tegen hem en Wim Voogd adopteerde dat en telkens toont hij nieuwe beelden.

Zijn vlucht was een unieke ervaring. Ongeveer 2 1/2 uur lang vloog hij boven de Athos, het merendeel van de 20 kloosters fotograferend, maar ook monnikengehuchten (skiti’s), kleinere hoeven (kellia), zelfs eenzame eremieten.


Het moment dat diep in het geheugen van de Nederlander staat gegrift en door middel van zijn blog de uiteinden van de bewoonde wereld bereikte, was de eenzame eremiet Jozef die hartstochtelijk met een reusachtige gele vlag met de tweekoppige adelaar zwaaide, op de punt van Kaap Akrathos

Onderschrift: Wim Voogd in het katholikon van het klooster Zografou, druiven sorterend in het klooster Vatopedi en in de ingang van de Heilige Gemeenschap van de Heilige Berg met een van zijn medewerkers.

Translation in English:

The Dutchman… loyal to the Holy Mountain

“Every visit of me to the Holy Mountain is a new experience I want to share with as many internet friends as possible,” explains 60-year-old Wim Voogd ‘

He is a Dutchman, of Protestant conviction, and presents the Holy Mountain to thousands of Internet users each year, from the U.S. and Russia until … Qatar, Hawaii and Indonesia. Wim Voogd, currently Legal Adviser of AirBnB in Amsterdam, visited the Athos community for the first time in 1980 as a student, and since then he has brought it to 11 visits, the last one last summer. For the first time, he flew with a single-engine airplane type Cessna, and shot pictures of the panorama of the monasteries, and of the lonely eremite Joseph on the rocks of Cape Akrathos, above a depth of three hundred meters deep, with his huge flag of Byzantium which he waves when [airforce] airplanes fly by.

In 2006, Voogd came up with the idea of making a blog to introduce the world to “the richness, the magic and the enchantment” of the Holy Mountain.

“The athos blog has no pure religious character, my goal is to show the people at the ends of the earth, and especially women, the environment, the isolation, the special way of life of the monks. I am fortunate that the number of users grows each year, so that we have reached the record number of 160,000 hits, coming from 36,500 visitors, in so many different countries of the four continents each year, “says the 60-year-old lawyer at Ethnos.

His original pan was to start a blog to show all the people who lived far from Greece, also women, the Garden of the Panagia, with its 20 monasteries, the tens of monks settlements and the hermit huts, but also the daily life of the monks, the incredible beautiful and wild footpaths, and the flora and fauna.

The tour is mainly through photographs, accompanied with the short texts serving as ‘legend’. Most are written by Wim Voogd himself, [but also] by his brother Herman and his friends of the blog who visit the Holy Mountain and then come into contact with him.

He touched the skies

In 2014, the 60-year-old Dutchman climbed the Athos summit and for quite some time he was unable to find words for everything he saw. He felt like touching the sky, raised his arms to shed the clouds and wished to immerse himself in the pristine jungle.

“In no other part of the world exists that harmony of nature, history, architecture, but also hospitality. Where no radio and television, internet or normal connection to the outside world exist, the monks and visitors communicate with words and often with the eyes. Every visit of me to the Holy Mountain is a new experience because I discover something new / special. And that’s something I want to share with as many internet friends as possible, “he explains.

Travel companion on most tours of Wim Voogd is his brother Herman, co-administrator of the blog. His flight with the Cessna this year was a gift from his wife and his two daughters, 18 and 23 years old, for his 60th birthday.

“It does not matter what you take back when you leave the Sacred Mountain, it’s enough for you to bring something. Your religious background is not important,” said an eremite to him years ago. Wim Voogd adopted that and every time he shows new images.

His flight was a unique experience. About 2 1/2 hours he flew above Athos, photographing most of the 20 monasteries, but also monks settlements (sketes), smaller huts (kellia), even lonely eremites.

Caption: The heremite monk Joseph.

A moment deeply carved in the memory of the Dutchman and where he with his blog reached the ends of the inhabited world, was the lonely eremite Joseph, who passionately waved with a giant yellow flag with the double-headed eagle, at the point of Cape Akrathos

Caption : Wim Voogd in the church of the monastery Zografou; grapes sorting in the Vatopedi monastery and at the entrance of the Holy Communion of the Holy Mountain with one of his friends.

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