2248 – the Dafni building complex of Simonospetras – part 2

In part 1 of this post I showed you the exterior and interior of the Church of All Saints. In this post we wil take a closer look at some of the other buildings, starting with the building that is called the Papayiannis building. This is the traditional Simonopetras Overseer’s House, which after renovation will be used for pilgrim accommodation.

Nr 2 the Papayiannis building – credits simonopetrafoundation.org

This is how this building looks like seen from the road (situation in October 2019):

In the background on the right: the Papayiannis building. In the foreground the church of All Saints in construction cloths and on the left house nr 4 with a water tap and flowers named “Cognac” (see the plan below). I do not know why this house is named after a French brandy?.
Behind the olive tree: the stairs that lead to the entrance of the Papayiannis building
Inside the Papayiannis building: choir stalls from the Church that lies next door. The passage to the stairs is closed.
The Papayiannis building: a hallway with different furniture
The Papayiannis building: work in progress in a room with icons, a printer (?) in plastic, multiple frames, buckets, books and a bookcase and a fire extinguisher
A small balcony in a corner between the Papayiannis building (nr2) and the lumber storage (nr 3)
Seen from the other side: The Papayiannis building. In the background you can see blue car, which also can be seen in the next photo
In a small alley opposite of the Church of All Saints (at nr 4 on the plan below)
Credits: simonopetrafoundation.org
Building nr 6: the lumber laborer’s building
This is the same building, but then drawn in its future shape, taken from the simonopetrafoundation.org website

And on the drawing below an artist impression of the complete Simonospetras building complex, as it should look like when the funds are collected and the renovations completed.

The future situation of the Dafni building complex?

This ends the posts I made during and of my 2019 Athos pilgrimage. Hopefully next week I will get new content to share with you.

Leaving Dafni October 4th 2019: a thunderstorm threathens the port and ferry
A goodbye to Athos
and Panteleimonos
but with the happy face of Anna in Ouranopolis (for a good breakfast and cold beer at Maria’s Isalos bar/restaurant. The restaurant used to lie next the ferry ticket office, that in present days has been moved further down the boulevard of Ouranopolis).

Tomorrow I will leave for my 14th pilgrimage to Athos, and from next Sunday the 25th of September I will go to Dafni together with the Footpath team of the FoMA, where a 4-wheel drive car will be waiting for us to bring us to Vatopedi. I will keep you informed about developments with new posts !

Wim Voogd, 20-9-2022

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2247 – the Dafni building complex of Simonospetras – part 1

Dafni 4th of October 2019

It has been three years since we last visited the Holy Mountain. Due to the coronavirus, the lockdowns in the world and extra precautions that applied to Athos, no pilgrims were allowed to come. But this summer Athos will finally open again and pilgrims are allowed to visit (most) monasteries again. I’m lucky enough to be joining the FoMA footpath clearing team this month, so I’ll be back on the Athos Peninsula on September 25th. And it was about time, because while I have a large archive of Athos photos, my own Athos pilgrimage content has almost completely dried up. But with some patience I managed to save some photos from the last trip in 2019 and some content for a very last post from the trip of 2019.

Dafni seen from above – drone footage by monk T

On October 4th 2019 we arrived in Dafni on time to leave for Ouranopolis, so I had some time to wander around in the small harbour village. I ended up at the Southern part of Dafni, where I saw some old dilapidated buildings. One of them was a church near a boathouse. Because the door was open I could enter the building and have a look inside.

Old dilapidated buildings in Dafni
Arsanas of the Simonospetras Monastery at Daphne. Russian Photographer, date unknown

This is the church that I visited in 2019, shown on an old photograph and seen from the jetty. I think this must in a time before the WWII, according to the fashion and hat from the man on the picture. The stairs that lead to the balcony on the second floor have since been removed.

But first, let me show you a floor plan of the Dafni building complex of Simonospetras: it comes from the new website simonopetrafoundation.org, where several projects of Simonospetras are presented in an absolutely beautiful website.

The church of All Saints in Dafni: nr 1
From the Simonopetras Foundation site

The Church of All Saints in Dafni: 4/10/2019

The church wrapped in construction cloths and surrounded by scaffolding. I now know that the church is dedicated to All Saints thanks to to the website mentionend above.

The Church of All Saints in Dafni: the stairs to the entrance
The Church of All Saints in Dafni: seen from the jetty and buildings 2 and 3: the Papayiannis building and the lumber storage
A close up of these two buildings: the lumber storage seems newly renovated
The church of All Saints with its boathouse and the Papayiannis building: they are connected to each other.
The boat house and the Papayiannis building

Let’s have a closer look inside the church of All Saints.

On the first floor, a room at the seaside, with al large fireplace
A room on the first floor with niches, neatly wihite plastered and with stained glass
The stairs that lead to the first floor: this part lies above the boat house
In a corner: beautiful doors with stained glass
The door that leads to the church and the first room above the boat house, with a view over the sea

A room on the second floor that overlooks the sea, with a small dome painted blue and a ceiling with only beams, From here you can go to the balcony.
The niche in the wall, with a (what we now all know) mouth cap, here ment to protect against dust, not Covid-19 (yet!).
A first iconostasis to enter the church, with a second, wooden iconostasis behind it, wrapped in plastic.
The balcony on the second floor, looking North
The balcony on the second floor, looking South
The actual church of All Saints, with its large dome in white, and with renovations in full progress
One of its thick outher walls, with a round top and a V-shaped window in it. There is almost no plaster on the walls left. On the right the second wooden iconostasis.

I am curious what the church looks like now, because in 2019 the Simonospetras Monastery started the renovation work and in the meantime three years have passed. In the photo below you can get an impression of what it will eventually look like. I wonder how far they are in renovating the whole complex. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see it on my upcoming Footpath Clearing Trip, on returning to Ouranopolis.

An artist impression of the Dafni buildings of Simonospetras.

To end this post: this is a photo of mr Herman Hissink from Holland in the 70-ties, with the Church of All Saints and Dafni seen from dirt road that leads to Simonospetras (with Xeropotamou in the background).

Next time more about the others buildings of Simonsopetras in Dafni.

Wim Voogd, 12-9-2022

Posted in 13 Simonos Petras, arsanas, Dafni, ruins, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

2246 – more information about the documentary “Adam where are you?” and an article in a Dutch magazine

On August 19th the Dutch magazine KATHOLIEK NIEUWSBLAD published this article “Getuigen van de stilte / Een intieme blik op een heilige berg” about the documentary “Adam where are you?”. You can buy the complete magazine here. For an English version go here. Furthermore the screenings of the film continue in September 2022 in these places:

1. September 6th: Nieuwkuijk

2. September 10th: Den Haag Filmhuis

3. September 11th: Oostende, Belgium, Kinepolis Oostende, tickets online

4. September 11th and 18th: De Balie Amsterdam

5. September 25th: Middelburg Cinema

6. October 8th: 14.30 h. Slieker film Leeuwarden

7. October 14th, 19.30 h: Franciscus en Clarakerk Raamstraat 78 2613 SE Delft

Wim Voogd, September 1st (thanks to Katia Novikova)

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2246 – Xiropotamou monastery: the phiale and the exo-narthex – part 3

I started my story of a visit to Xiropotamou in 2019 February this year, with an photo essay of the outside walls and drone footage (post 2234). In the next post – part 2 – I payed attention to the courtyard and the strange figure – a jaquemart – that once stood in the bell-tower.

To end this photo-essay I will take a closer look at the phiale and the exo-narthex of the Katholicon.

The phiale seen from the guesthouse – archondariki, with the corridor between the Katholicon and the trapeza behind it
The phiale with a monk walking around the church with the semantron, just before the start of the evening service
The phiale and Katholicon seen from the ground floor
The phiale, with two fellow pilgrims admiring the painted ceiling of the roof: on the stone in front a relief with a text
The bass-relief with a Greek text in a cartouche, surrounded by plant-like motives
Two pictures of the next stone plate, with a plan of the monastery on it. On the right the bell-tower with the clock, under it the small secondary gate, that leads to a kitchen garden (?) and in the middle the Katholicon. On the left side two towers show up, nowadays these towers are gone.
The ceiling of the phiale
In the middel of the dome: Christ and the 40 martyrs that surround him, and different scenes from the live of Christ.
The phiale at night with its colorfull stained glass
The corridor between the Katholicon and the trapeza with a fine marble floor

The door to the trapeza (unsharp photo!)
The door to the Katholicon
Above the door to the Katholicon: wall paintings with scenes of the death of the 40 Martyrs
The right part of the exo-narthex
Wall painting of several Saints
The door in the exo-narthex that leads to the courtyard
The same door seen from the courtyard
The left part of the exo-narthex with pilgrim Richard, looking at an extraordinary scene
The beautiful scene in the exo-narthex: a last judgement scene with Holy men, wild animals and devils, and with the Eye of God watching it in a cloud
Some of the wild animals in detail
The domes and arches with scenes from the 40 Martyrs
Harvest of grapes by Angels
Part of the courtyard walls and windows with a special detail: a cat of lion like figure
The gargoyle at the outside wall at sunset
Xiropotamou in 2019
Xiropotamou in 1918 – from a French album the aviateur
Near Xiropotamou: a hummingbird bee

This blog closes down the photo survay about the “forgotten” monastery of Athos, Xiropotamou. I discribe it as a ‘forgotten’ monastery because most pilgrims pass it on their way to Karyes of Dafni without a visit, its architecture is not the most impressive I have seen on the Holy Mountain and its reputation is that it is not very hospitable, especially for non-orthodox pilgrims, but even orthodox pilgrims complained about it. But anyway, is was worth a visit and it reveiled some interesting facts about the existance of jaquemarts on the Holy Mountain.

Wim Voogd, 20-8-2022

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2245 – fire on Athos

Saturday moring, the 6th of August, a fire broke out in the olive orchard near Arsanas Konstamonitou / the cell of Agiou Pantes, where persumeably somebody wanted to burn some branches. The latest news of today is that the fire in under control due to hard work of monks and fireman, who extinguished the fire. For more information look here (Vimas Orthodoxias in Greek).

Wim Voogd, 7-8

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2244 – review of the film Adam, Where are you ?: a 4 star rating

Yesterday my Athos friends and I went to see the Athos film in Amsterdam/De Balie. The film was introduced by the producer father Alexander Plysko from Kiev.

Father Alexander Plyska with the translator in Amsterdam – De Balie

The film lasts 80 minutes and is shot in 4 years during 2015-2019 in the monastery Doucheiariou in Athos. The cameraman is Alexander Zaporoschenko. It is an account of the life in a monastery, in all its aspects. It shows the daily life in a monastery and the thoughts and doubt of the old abbot, Hegoumen Grigorios, who suffered from diabetes and passed away in 2018.

Abbot Grigorios

Abbot Grigorios had an open and liberal mind and allowed his monks things that you usually don’t see on Mount Athos. A special scene in the movie is a monk playing music from Bach on a piano. Father Alexander explained after showing the film that this monk learned to play classical music on piano before he went to Athos. Because he missed playing music (which is absolutely forbidden on Athos!), the abbot bought a piano and placed it somewhere outside the monastery in one of the workplaces, where could play the instrument.

There is also a lovely scene of a monk who takes care of the (many!) cats. The monk says ” that all his cats protect the monastery against rats and snakes”. He is the only monk who spoke English, the rest of the monks -ofcourse- speak Greek.

Father Nikos – with his cats

Although Ukrainian, father Alexander spend his time in the Greek speaking monastery, because he wanted to improve his singing competences and he was told that Docheiariou should be the place to be. He told the public on my question about Ukrain-Russian relationships in Panteleimonos that it gives no problems. They live together in harmony and both the patriarch Bartholomew and Kyrill are commemorated during the services. The Patriarch Bartholomew in Constantinople knows this and agrees with it.

The images shot of nature -during every season- are stunning. Rain, storm, high winds, snow and hot summer days are shown. The monks at Docheiriou work hard and during a scene at the jetty even a small fight breaks ou between some monks. The cause of this fight is not clear.

The mountian near the Panaghia refuge in the winter

In all I would strongly recommend to see this film, it gives a special insight in the every day live of the monks, but also how many time they spend in church praying and singing: the scene of the Easter service – useally all night long – is fantastic, and also the initiation of a priest monk, where the abbot start crying, is an extraordinary scne. Go and see it.

Our panel of viewers/Athos pilgrims gave it 4 stars **** (out of five).

A special thanks to ms Katia Novikova, who made it possible to see the film with Dutch subtitles in The Netherlands (and in Belgium).

Wim Voogd, 5/8

NB. look here to find out where the films shows: 11th August again in De Balie in Amsterdam.

abbot Gregorios with his dogs


Posted in 10 Docheiariou, films | Tagged , | 1 Comment

2243 – News: update post 1835- 28-7-2022 : new regulations for making a reservation.

A new update of post 1835: Thanks to the help of Japetus I can publish the new regulations for making a reservation, see post 1835. I will try to find out if the new rules also apply for foreigners:

According to the owner of Hotel Akrogiali in Ouranopolis the old regulations again apply, so it is possible to walk from monastery to monastery again (info 28-7-2022)!

Japetus informed us that foreign visitors currently can make s reservation THREE months before arrival instead of six months.

Yves Milonas informs us that a lot of monasteries are still very afraid, ea Vatopedi admit you only on the first day of your visit and with a negatif Covid test proof. Vatopedi and Xenofondos now use a web application to register and ask for overnight stay. Some monasteries just answer politly that they don’t have any places free.

Time to make plans for a pilgrimage in 2023 (or this year ofcourse)!

Diamonitiion 1980

Wim, 28/7

Posted in basic information/reservations, news | 4 Comments

2242 – the documentary “Adam where are you?”: premiere in August in the Netherlands

In post 2222 from October 2021 I published the news about a new Athos documentary, made by the Ukrainian director Alexander Zaporoshchenko and producer Alexander Pliska. At that time it was uncertain when the premiere in the West would follow.

Gérontas Grigórios from Docheiariou (see post 2222)

Last week our dear reader Vasilís pointed out to me that the film will be playing in Holland in August this year. The organiser, Katia Novikova, told me that the film would have its premiere in Rotterdam on August 14th, but now it turns out that the film will be shown in other cities sooner.

In Rotterdam the original film is shown in Ukrain language (and Greek) at 14.30 h, later that afternoon 17 h the film is subtitled in Dutch. Tickets can only be ordered by phoning Katia on 06-2170 3480. Be quick, because there only 80 tickets available in this location:

August 14th: Het Klooster Oude Noorden, Ruivenstraat 81 3036 DD Rotterdam.

Mr Alexander Pliska will also be present and give an introduction. The prize for a ticket is € 10,00, but it is much appreciated if an extra amount can be donated, because this benefits Urkrainian refugees (and Alexander Pliska is one of them). Katia will sent you a payment request (Tikkie).

Katia in the meanwhile managed to arrange more presentations, first in Breda on August 3th in the church of the protestantse gemeente Ginneken gebouw “Mariendal” Duivelsbruglaan 21, 4835 JD Breda. Tickets are available at the venue – see poster below.

Below can see the latest developments where and when the film will be shown in The Netherlands:

1. August 3th 19.00 h: Breda (see above),

2. August 4 and 11th in De Balie Amsterdam (tickets online available on the website) from 18/7.

3. August 6th; Den Haag 17 h: Filmhuis Den Haag, tickets online,

4. August 14th: Middelburg Cinema Middelburg 15.00 h.,

5. August 14th and 26th: 14.30 and 18 h, Rotterdam (see information above),

6. August 16th: Den Haag, Filmhuis, Spui 191: tickets online.

7. August 20th 19.30 h in “gemeenschapshuis Acropolis in Megen, Broeder Everardusplein 1 5366 BE. You can reserve/buy tickets online.

8. August 24th: Amsterdam, De Thomas(kerk), Prinses Irenestraat 36, tickets online, 19.30 h.

9. August 26th: Rotterdam, Het klooster Oude Noorden. Ruivenstraat 81, 3036 DD, 18.00 h.

10. August 28th: Antwerp Belgium, Kinepolis 16.45 h (NL), 19.45 h (Rus), tickets online

11. August 29/30/31th: Thessaloniki, Cine Alex summer Theatre 23.00 h.

12. August 31th: Haarlem Noord Verhalenhuis – Van Egmondstraat 7 2024 XL, 19.30 h.

Official trailer on YouTube:

Wim Voogd, 6-7-2022 (update 27-7)

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2241 – an update: file a complaint against the new large scale commercial company “Avaton water”on the Holy Mountain

According to this weblog the drilling for mineral water is being carried out without the permission of the Iera Epistatia – the Holy Community- !! The writer of this weblog also asks the question how far the secularization of modern Mount Athos will go?

If you want to know more about the buisenes plan of Avaton water and the people behind it, read this article in Greek by George Lampiris in Capital.gr (use Google Translate).

the new factory

And VolodK added this new information to the previous post 2237 , to file your complaint correctly (thanks Volod)! The factory is still missing the final permit but it is said it’s on the way! Let’s try to stop this madness, maybe it is not too late?

Text Volod: “Searching here I found these are the correct information for the company. The rest of the VAT number is 192552 (I made a free account) so please update the complaint form accordingly because the other company is in Cyprus so the complaint to the Greek authorities is void”.

Wim Voogd, 19/6 and 27/6

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2240 – Xiropotamou monastery and the question of the strange figure in de clock tower (a jaquemart) – part 2

In post 2234 I showed pictures of the surrounding area of Xiropotamou and the graveyard/ossuary.

In this post we wil take a closer look at the courtyard and its buildings. As said before, it is not easy to present pictures of this monastery, because the archondaris and the monks are not very keen on visitors, especcialy if you are not orthodox. Even a group of Rumenean Orthodox pilgrims, who kindly requested if they could see the Katholicon from the inside, were refused rather bluntly, provoking indignant reactions.

We will start this photo survey at the main gate: a marble gate with a large icon behind glass of the 40 Martyrs (where the monastery is dedicated to) and a beautiful haute-relief in the frieze. Under the frieze is a text in Greek visible, but it is almost impossible the see or read it.

The text under the frieze

The corridor behind the main gate that leads to the courtyard: here the archondaris welcomes you and checks your diamoniterion.

The courtyard with the Katholicon in the centre, the Phaile on the right and a place where plants and herbs grow in pots.

Looking back at the entrance. On the groud floor on the left you are invited to have a small meal and a drink or coffee. The stairs lead to the archondariki and your rooms.

The clock tower, Phiale and Katholicon.

When you look at older pictures from the clock tower, you will see a strange phenomenon, that occurs in a few monasteries on Athos: above the clock you can see a statue of a figure (a man) standing, holding a club (or sword?). I found two photo’s from 1911 and 1927:

Perilla 1927
Hasluck 1911

Probably most visitors of Athos remember the same figure standing in the clock tower of Vatopedi:

and I also found a photo of the this figure, that once stood on the clock tower of Iviron monastery (thanks monk T.) – this one has disappeared in the meanwhile.

Iviron Monastery 23-6-2007

Here in Iviron you can clearly see a man with a hammer and a bell. It took me some time to figure out before I found some more information about this strange (black?) figure. Finally I found this website of a Georgian artist, who renovated the man with the hammer in Vatopedi monastery. He tells about his renovation activities and he explains the meaning of this strange figure (in Vatopdi also with a sword/scimitar).

‘On the tower of this monastery there is a 300-year-old clock and a monument of a man with a sword. The man is also holding a hammer and an iron plate. Every half an hour he hits the hammer on the plate and reminds us that we are mortal’.

This is maybe the simple explanation about this enigmatic statue. But I wonder if this figure is typical for Athos bell towers or if this phenomenon is found at other places? And why does it appear to be a black man and why has he a (Turkish?) scimitar? Why is he dressed in this way? Many questions are to be answered yet.

The (empty) left window above the modern clock in the clock tower of Xeropotamou monastery in 2019.

Wim Voogd. 6/6/22

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