2000 – Rembrandt on Athos

This year I will visit Athos in September for the 12th time. Xenofontos, Grigoriou and Pavlou are monasteries that I visited before, but I never stayed over.  Unfortunately Xerapotamou declined our request for an overnight in their monastery. This will be my next goal for the Athos 2019 pilgrimage!

A couple of years ago I started bringing small gifts to present to the guestmasters of the monasteries where we stayed the night. Bringing a gift is not nessesary, but I think it is nice thing to do, especcialy of you bring something of interest of your own country . So on my pilgrimage to Athos I brought seeds from Holland for the gardener to grow vegatables in his kitchen garden, but also flower seeds and tulips from Amsterdam.

Last year I took some old copies from etches of Rembrandt with religious scenes. Ofcourse they were not as valuable as the original ones, but the copies were more then 100 years old – printed in 1904 – and of good quality. One of them was the so called “hundred guilder” print.  The Hundred Guilder Print is an etching by Rembrandt from ca 1646, depicting multiple events from the Gospel of Matthew 19. The story goes that Rembrandt wanted to buy back a copy of the engraving and had to pay the enormous amount of one hundred guilders

The etch shows Christ (in the middle) healing the sick, on the left in the background are some scribes and Pharisees discussing with each other about the man they are looking at in a somewhat disparaging way, Peter (with beard) tries to stop some women who want their children to be blessed, but Jesus gestures them forward. Next to Peter, with his hand in front of his mouth, is the rich young man who has just been told that a place in heaven is not reserved for him, despite his virtuous lifestyle. He must first give his wealth to the poor. The rich young man mentioned in the chapter is leaving through the gateway on the right.

The librarian of Vatopedi received the gift in gratitude. I hope he will like it, because the art of Rembrandt is so different from the Byzantine art tradition. The librarian gave me permission to have a look in the new library and to make some pictures (NB. the old historical books are placed in a different, second library , under the clocktower).reading room in the library of Vatopedi New and older books on the shelvesCabinets full with books: in the background modern mobile storage cabinetsThe foreign books section: books about Athos in German, English and Russian (and more languages)The Vatopedi library (A) can be reached by taking the stairways to the second floor sea side, near the Katholicon (C) see the red arrow. B is the trapeza. The Vatopedi library on the second floor

Wim Voogd, 21/05

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1999 – Risky erosion in the arsanas of Néa Skiti

We had to wait for the boat that would take us to Dafni. We were early so we had time to look around. If you look up from the harbour you see impressive vertical formations. Just above the cliffs you see little houses, where people live. Not suitable for monks with fear of heights.A closer look. Safety measures have been taken, there are some fences. But the erosion is intense in this part of Athos. It is not the marble of the Holy Mountain, this is sandstone. The erosion combined with the probability of earthquakes makes a poisonous cocktail. Check the frequency of earthquakes in Greece here. There are so many small earthquakes in this part of the Mediterranean.The same building taken from the other side. It is as scary from this perspective.Some of the houses look like the dwellings of the hermits in Karoulia. It is as steep and remote as well. This morning everything was peaceful and quiet. Only the continuous noise of the sea and a finch was heard. Some research learned that this is a chaffinch (thanks to Herman).The advantage of sitting and waiting and wondering around is that more life can be seen. With each wave this crab disappeared under the foam of the waves.And there she was at last: the Agia Anna approaching silently and lowering her tailgate as an invitation to us waiting on the pier. She gracefully accepted us as Jona in the whale.

Bas Kamps

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1998 – Pastoral scenes in Néa Skiti

Olive trees on terraces that lead to Agiou Georgiou as seen from the monopati between Skiti Agiou Anna and Néa Skiti, which was the final destination of the day. The church seems to pop out of the mountain.An overview of the shattered houses of Néa Skiti. It is a complex of 33 buildings separated from the sea by a steep ridge. The paths are mostly stairs. It is not accessible for cars. Mules deliver the goods from the arsanas (harbour).The ancient olive tree in front of the kyriakón.The sunset from the churchyard looking towards Sithonia peninsula.A pastoral scene just behind the kyriakón. An old Thonet chair and big jar. The rest looks very new; the woodwork of the stairs, the masonry and the yellow grout.Another detail of the restored walls.A typical street in Néa Skiti. Walls, streets and gates make it a stone world. Cypresses, grapes and ferns on the walls give green accents.Two ‘trains of mules’ met at the harbour. They carried heavy stones in the plastic boxes on their flanks. Material for more building and renovation activities to come.

Bas Kamps

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1997 – a tragic and fatal accident on the Holy Mountain

Our reader Konstantinos Prigkipakis let us know in a comment that on May 1st shortly after 11 o’clock, a tragic accident happened on Athos. The 62-year old anesthetist George Karantinos from Heraklion Crete fell from a cliff in an inaccessible area on the monopati between Simonos Petras and Grigoriou. In a walking party of 3 he lost his balance and fell from a height of 8 meters, resulting in fatal injuries.

His friends immediately called for the authorities, but the injury of the unfortunate anesthetist ware too serious and he passed away minutes later. A tragic irony is the fact that a few days ago the doctor “lost” his mother.Photograph from the point where the unfortunate anesthetist was found (source).

What a sad news, this should not happen on a pilgrimage to our beloved Holy place. My condolences.

Wim Voogd, 2/5/18

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1996 – Kolitsoú: the tower of Kaletzi or Collegio

DSCN3892 (Large)In this post from february 2015 I described all information that I could find on the internet about this extraordinary tower, that stands alone on the hill above the Rumenian Kolitsou settlement.  It is one of the few Katholic (besides the Amalfi tower) buildings on the Holy Mountain.

In my previous post I promised to visit this site and show them to you. In May 2017 I finally got the chance to go there.

This is the route we walked from Kolitsou to Vatopedi (5,4 km): as you see we started on a dirt road and soon after leaving Kolitsou the road turns to your right, where the tower stands.But before going to the tower I took two pictures of other kellions that belong to Kolitsou: And just before leaving this area we saw this house, that was being re-build. The workmen told us that the house would be used by Orthodox monks from Georgia, who would be re-settlling on the Holy Mountain after leaving Iviron monastery, many years ago! The new Georgian settlement on AthosHere ends the dirt road in a path that leads to the NW side of the ruined tower of Kolitsou, with flowering broom surrounding itThe other – SE – side of the tower: in the wall on the right side you can see the contours of a roof of a house, that once was attached to the tower.  This wall is the only visible remnant of a building directly surrounding the wall: was it a part of the Collegio monastery?A cross section of the tower (found here).

Here I found a way to get inside the tower. A warning is required: it is not without danger to go in because of falling debris and stones!The crumbling wall above the entrance – West wall

On the this picture I turned the camera left I photographed the South wallThe (East) wall opposite to the entrance. Look how they used different materials and building methods: sometimes natural stones to build the walls and arches and at other places mudbrick stones.The North wall: a fig tree grows from the ground floor, that is filled up with a large layer of debris.The ground floor: an arched windowOther arches on grond floor, almost covered by debrisThe next window on the ground floor A hole in the ground: might it lead to a cistrene?A view towards the sea, seen through the East wallA next view of Athos hills, seen through a hole in the Western wallThe Western wall with the hole Leaving the tower towards the North, in the direction of Vatopedi My intention was to find a foothpath to Vatopedi, as discribed on the FoMA site, but unfortuenately we missed it. This picture showes you the junction, where a sign shows you the road to Kolitsou (and pilgrim Tadeusz).  and this picture showes the junction where missed the foothpath (somewhere to the right going downhill). It is the place at the red X on the map below.By coincidence we were able to walk the right path in the opposite direction a couple of days later, so on the following map you can see the (red) spot where the path (at first a road) begins:This hike is one kilometer shorter then the one over the dirt roads: 5,4 km over dirt roads and 4,5 km over the foothpath.

Wim Voogd, 01-05

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1995 – Athos cooking lessons by Father Epifánios

Most people recognize this question: “What’s for dinner tonight?”

Maybe these “You Tube”- films will help you to find the answer, thanks to Father Epifánios from Mylopotamos. Although it is spoken in Greek, most ingredients and instructions are universal, so everybody can cook an Athos meal (without meat) tonight! (thanks EPT WebTV and Vasilis on Facebook).

And Mylopotamos is well known because of the excellent wines they make.

Wim, 24/4

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1994 – the hike from Pantocratoros to (arsanas) Kolitsoú

I have been publishing on this weblog for more then 10 years. One of my aims is to share my travels with others – who are not able to visit the Holy Mountain -. For me it is exciting to discover places that hardly recieve any visitors and to show you the pictures of places that have not (or almost not) been published before.

Ten years ago the internet was not as widely spread as nowadays, so in these days many pilgrims share their experiences on the world wide web. But even in these modern days there are some hidden jewels to be found, and one of them is Kolitsoú. From Pantocratoros to Kolitsoú: 6,1 km along the coast, partly dirt road and in the end monopati.

Kolitsoú is situated between Pantocratoros and Vatopedi, not for from the coast and the main road, but there are hardly any pilgrims who take the trouble of going there, because it takes some effort to visit it and it consists of only a couple of (new) houses. The monks who live in these cells are of Rumenian origin. The second reason to pay a visit to this place  is the tower of Kolitsoú, one of the few standing alone in the Athos-landscape (like the Amalfi tower). The third reason to go there is somewhat trivial: Prince Charles has been there….The few huts of Kolitsoú (Google Maps)

Let’s have a look at the pictures I made on the hike from Pantocratoros to – at first – arsanas Kolitsoú:

The Kolitoú tower, seen from a far distanceZooming in: the huts of Kolitsoú and the towerA small rocky island near the Kolitsoú harbour called “N. Vracháki”.N. Vracháki zoomed in (picture Tadeusz)Looking back to the South/Pantocratoros: rough cliffs called “Ak. Chalkiás”Pointing the camera in the opposite direction: the arsanas Kolitsoú appears with a small beach. Zooming in at two well kept buildings and one ruined boathouseLooking up: Kolitsoú and the towerThe dirt road that leads to Kolitsoú is hardly used by cars and overgrown with camille flowersArriving at the arsanas Two boathouses, one in ruins, building materials are spread around the placeThe two intact boathouses of the arsanasand the ruined boathouseThe beach of arsanas KolitsoúThe third boathouse in the North, with rubbish and pieces of wood on the beach.The third boathouse, attached to the natural rocks the door of the third boathouse

Kolitsoú beach with small islandsLooking up at Kolitsoú tower. Everywhere on Athos and even in this deserted place you can find signs that where placed there decennia ago, but all texts and paint disappeared because of the influence of light, wind and salt.

The hike over the monopati to Kolitsoú takes 20 minutes. According to FoMA map of Peter Howorth there should be two possibilties to walk up, but I could not find a path starting from the North part of the beach, although on the picture above a road is clearly to been seen leading from the Northern slopes of the valley down to the beach. The South path we took was very beautifull and it ended in a T-crossing. When you go left at the place, seen on the picture below, you will the cell called Ag. Dimitrios.Near the T-crossinga water tap in the wall, showing Ag. Dimitrios (and pilgrim GJ).Kolitsoú: Saint George (Agios Georgios – thanks Silviu for your comment)With large pottery standing is the courtyardAfter a warm welcome and a cup of coffee we were invited to have look in the church of this cell

Prince Charles has a special commitment with this place, because he spoke to the Rumenian Elder Dionisie on April 19th 2000 (now 18 years ago!) and he was apparently so impressed by him, that he attended his funeral four years later on May 12th 2004. Elder Dionisie died on May 11th 2004.Prince Charles at the funeral in Kolitsoú, May 12th 2004 (photo Pemptousia) Elder DionisieThe Prince of Wales visiting Kolitsoú and Elder Dionisie in 2000

The grave of Elder Dionisie, May 9th 2017.

I did not have time to visit the other two huts of this forgotten and hidden settlement on Athos: here are two pictures of the Rumenian houses. Next time I will show you pictures of one of the other houses in Kolitsoú that was being renovated and almost ready to be used by Georgian monks, who make their re-appearance on the Holy Mountain, ages after they left their (former) monastery Iviron!

Wim Voogd, 19/04/2018

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