This latest footage of monk T., already made in 2020, shows us unique images of rarely visited skiti of Ag. Panteleimonos (also called skiti Koutloumousiou) and of the famous and often visited the cell of Saint Paisios, that lies closeby on the other side of the valley, near the monopati that leads to Iviron.
This skiti is rarely visited by pilgrims, because most hikers take the monopati that lies on the other side of the valley and that leads to Iviron, and of course, the famous cell of Saint Paisios, with the characteristic chairs in the garden, made of felled trees. This place would be another target for a next visit to the Holy Mountain!
For pilgrims who have plans to go to Athos, please have a look at our reservation post nr 1835, because there have been some updates with new information.
On Monday, September 26, 2022, our team started our first mission, clearing the path between Vatopedi and Esfigmenou. After waking up at 6am and having breakfast at 6.30am specially made for our team, we got a lift from a grumpy Greek driver, who couldn’t understand why we had to go up the hill, thinking we had can start working on the trails from below, near the monastery (it would have taken us an hour to walk up the hill to our starting point!). Anyway, we finally reached our spot to start our day cutting down and removing obstacles such as bushes and trees, to ensure that pilgrims can have a good and safe walk on the Athos hiking trails.
But before I continue describing the work on our first day, I would like to share a webinar where two of our prominent members of the FoMA footpath team attended, Chris Thomas and Peter Desmond, which took place in February 2022. In this video of a webinar from the Anglo-Hellenic League, viewable on YouTube, the story of the FoMA footpath team is told. What I didn’t know was that (at the time) Prince Charles played an active role in the foundation of the footpath team in 2004, 18 years ago. He asked the members of FoMA to set up a team of footpath cleaners to preserve and maintain the Athos trails. He even helped a team in 2004, as you can see in the photos below, which I ‘took’ from the video.
Father Mathew from Vatopedi discribed our mission as follows in simple words: “make shure that a monk on a donkey can pass the paths smoothly”. With that simple task in mind we put on our work gloves and took our loppers and saws and started working.
Most kalderimi, these are the wider paths that have been paved with cobblestones in the passed centuries, do require much work, although sometimes you have to remove fallen trees or the most annoying plants, the broom plants with their vicious thorns – see photo below.
Unfortunately the old trapeza of Vatopedi is being renovated while we were there, so dinner was served at 5:30 pm in a cellar near the kitchen: that night we got spaghetti with tomato sauce without oil, but with olives and fruit (not wine but fruit juice) . Let’s not forget to mention Father Mathew’s hot sauce made from the Carolina Reaper pepper, the hottest pepper in the world: just 5 drops of it in my spaghetti and it almost killed me too!
This footage is made by monk T and shows three towers of the Holy Mountain: the first one is Palaiopyrgos, the ruins of an old tower between the arsanas of Sografou and Konstamonitou, for more information read this post on our weblog: 2221. The second tower is the one of Karakallou on the East coast. also see post 2127. And the last tower is the Amalfi tower, near Morfonou beach, a remnant of an old Katholic monastery, that once stood on this spot (before 1054?).
Athos friend Vasílis found this new (since October 2022) and excellend site, agionorosroutes.blogspot.com, with 70 detailled walking routes on the Holy Mountain, shown in Google maps. All tracks can by seen with satellite images. The text is in Greek, but with Google Translate it is very easy accesable and readable. You can also download a free Google Earth map with lots of information about almost all settlements and buildings on Athos.
With this text the author/maker introduces his site:
In this blog you can find the main hiking routes for Mount Athos. More will be added along the way. The times listed for these routes are calculated for slow walking. Each route has a map and brief directions since you can follow your trail on the map (if there is a mobile phone signal) there is no need for detailed directions. The maps are made to be viewed on google maps in the satellite view setting. You can search for the routes in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page or by section on the right.
This site can be very helpful in planning your route for a hike on the Holy Mountain. You can click on the route you want to walk and zoom in on Google maps. It also includes a description.
The (anonymous) Greek author also published a (free) PDF in Greek with information about the monasteries (and email adresses!).
In post 2217, published on August 18th 2021, I showed you all drone photos made by monk T made of this small settlement. In September 2013 we payed a visit to this lovely place, where we were welcomed by a friendly Serbian monk who showed us the place (for more information and pictures have a look at post 1610).
The footage that monk T shot shows such a wonderfull part of Athos. Besides the fact that the fields are cultivated with vines, the beach and the area are in such a pristine state, as if time has stood still here. I’ve often wondered how it could have looked like, if this part a the world hadn’t been inhabited by monks for more than 1000 years. Probably the beach would have overcrowded with tourists and a large four-star hotel complex with swimming pool and bars would have been build here. Enjoy the video!
Our dear Athos friend Vasílis de Grote publishes very interesting information about Athos on Facebook. With his permission I have reproduced this list of abbots, hegoúmenos in Greek, which he published on 12 February. The reason for starting this list was that he found a black and white photo of the special moment of the enthronement of the longest serving abbot on Athos, hegoúmenos Parthenios of Ag. Pavlou on December 15, 1974, so he has been head of the monastery now for 48 years (and he is 91 years old? – number 14 on the list).
Megistas Lavras – Prodromos (born xxx?): since 2000 – 22 years
Vatopediou – Efrem (born 5-6-1956/66 years old): since 1990 – 32 years
Iviron – Nathaniel (xxx): since 2005 – 17 years
Chilandariou – Methodios (born 7-1-1970/52 years old): since 2010 – 12 years
Dionysou – Petros (xxx): since 1989 – 33 years
Koutloumousiou – Nikolaos (xxx): since 2020 – 2 years
Pantocratoros – Gabriel (xxx): since 2001- 21 years
Xiropotamou – Joseph (xxx): since 1985 – 37 years
Sografou – Ambrosios (xxx): since 1997 – 25 years
Docheiariou – Amfilochios (born 1961/61 years old): since 2018 – 4 years
Karakallou – Filothéos (xxx): since 1981 – 41 years
Filotheou – Nikodimos (xxx): since 2001 – 21 years
Simonos Petras – Elisaios (xxx): since 2000 – 22 years
Ag. Paulou – Parthenios (born 1931? – 91 years old?): since 1974 – 48 years
Stavronikita – Tichon (xxx): since 1990 – 32 years
Xenofontos – Alexios (xxx): since 1976 – 46 years
Grigoriou – Christoforos (xxx): since 2014 – 8 years
Esfigmenou (new – konaki Karyes) – Bartholomeos (born 1973/49 years old): since 2013 – 9 years
Esfigmenou (old – monastery) – Methodios (xxx): since 1991 – 31 years
Panteleimonos “- Evlogios (xxx): since 2016 – 6 years
Konstamonitou – Charalampos (xxx): since 2018 – 4 years
The Holy Mountain has 20 monasteries, Esfigmenou is mentioned twice because of historical (and obvious) reasons.
Below you can find the portrets/photos of some of these abbots (from my archive and the internet):
Once again I am in the privileged position to show unique images of Athos. This time my much appreciated friend Monk T made drone images of the well-known monastery Vatopedi, where I stayed for a week with my friends from the FoMA in September 2022. But this in not all, because Monk T also made very unique aerial shots of the Kolitsou tower, never shown before on the internet. In post 1996 of this weblog I showed you the pictures of my visit to this tower in 2018.
Thanks again to Monk T for being so helpful, so we can post this unique material (and I have more (drone) content from him, so you can expect more videos in the near future!)
The Athonias was founded in 1749 and the first building was erected on the top of a hill northeast of Vadopedi, where its imposing ruins still exist today. In the beginning it was well known because of the progressive educational methods of Eugenios Voulgaris, the director of the Athonias from 1753–1759. However, conservative circles of Mount Athos were encouraged to come out openly against the progressive educational methods of Voulgaris. By the end of the 18th century the rate of literacy in Mount Athos had declined and the traditional local circles became hostile towards the progressive teaching in the Athonias. Already 72 later, in 1821, the Athonias was closed, when the Greek War of Independence broke out. It reopened in 1845 in Karyes. Since 1821 the large building slowly fell in ruins….. On the drawing below you can see how it once looked (also have a look here).
During my last visit to the Holy Mountain together with the Friends of Mount Athos I could visit the ruins and take a short hike from Vatopedi to Athonias (on Sunday afternoon 25th of September 2022).
Before going to the the ruins of the Athonias, you’ll see the aqueduct that provided fresh water from the opposite hill:
Wim Voogd, 30-12-2022
To all our readers: we wish you a healthy and peacefully new year, maybe we will meet once on the Holy Mountain (in September 2023?)
This footage by IMDLEO.GR shows a sudden storm on December 1st 2022 near the monastery Dionysios on Mount Athos. You see the water storage tank that prevents the plaza from flooding and protects the shoreline from the swirling water and floating forest logs. The river has almost overflowed in places, but the built waterworks have proven their worth. The storm was part of a low-pressure area called Ariel, which brought many downpours and thunderstorms in parts of Greece.