2221 – Palaiopyrgos: the tower of the lost monasteries of Xerokastrou and Calligrafou and more drone images by monk Theodosios

Monk Theodosios made some beautiful drone images of the northern part of Mt. Athos. Posts 2216, 2217 and 2219 covered the east coast, now we’ll take a closer look at the harbors and towers at the west coast. Here you can find the arsanas of Sografou monastery and only 600 meter further lies the arsanas of Konstamonitou monastery. First I’ll show you the pictures of arsanas Konstamonitou.

Arsanas Konstamonitou: drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, 5th of May 2021 by Theodosios
Arsanas Konstamonitou: drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, 5th of May 2021 by Theodosios
Behind arsanas Konstamonitou: the rocks with cave: drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, 5th of May 2021 by Theodosios
The drone flew more to the north and shot this picture of the Palaiopyrgos tower, now derelict and in ruins, and arsanas Sografou in the background, 5th May 2021 by Theodosios
Palaiopyrgos tower and arsanas Sografou in the background, 5th May 2021 by Theodosios

The KEDAK paper The Towers of Mount Athos from 2002 says that in former times the Palaiopyrgos (the Old Arsenal Tower) and the actual Konstamonitou arsenal served the needs of two small monasteries, Xerokastrou and Calligrafou, both of them presently extinct. The old tower provided its defences and the arsenal its berthing facilities. Historical evidence shows that the Old Tower was build before the tower of Sografou monastery, constructed in 1475, 200 meters to the west, and the actual arsenal of Konstamonitou, 400 meters to the east, which was constructed in 1763. It was the further development of the latter that eventually led to the Old Arsenal Tower becoming derelict.

The Xerokastrou was located somewhere between Megali Jovanitsa and the arsenal of Sografou. The Calligrafou was located nearer to the other monasteries, to the east an close to the arsenal of Konstamonitou.

Palaiopyrgos (the Old Arsenal Tower) , 5th May 2021 by Theodosios

On the left you can see the masonry ruins of the makeshift arsenal at the foot of the Old Tower.

Palaiopyrgos (the Old Arsenal Tower) , 5th May 2021 by Theodosios
Palaiopyrgos (the Old Arsenal Tower) from above, 5th May 2021 by Theodosios
A drawing from 1847 by the Russian monk Gennadios of the surroundings – from the KEDAK paper 2002
the Old Tower in 2013 – photo Wim Voogd
Arsanas Sografou, 5th May 2021 by Theodosios
Arsanas Sografou, with the Old Tower and arsanas Konstamonitou in the background, 5th May 2021 by Theodosios
Google Earth – West coast Athos

Could this be a remnant of the lost monastery Xerokastrou between Megali Jovanitsá and arsanas Sografou (see the red arrow)?

Wim Voogd, 18-09-2021

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2220 – todays (8-9) forest fire near Mikra Agia Anna under control and extinguished

Today’s reports from Athos monks who keep a Facebook account (father Athanasios Karouliotis and Efthymios Volonakis-Vouleftiriotis) and from Vima Orthodoxias (in Greek) tell about the fire that broke this morning, the 7th of September 2021, that started near the harbor in a remote and inaccessible ravine near Mikra Agia Anna. The monks and workers opened a fire zone so that the fire would not pass into the ravine, where there are many cells. After many efforts and with the help of the Fire Brigade, they managed to reduce the fire, despite the strong wind (beaufort 6/7). Airplane and helicopters also helped to extinguish to flames.

Photo: credits Vima Orthodoxias

Luckily the Holy Mountain was spared this year from serious forest fires, something you unfortunately can’t say about other parts of greece, where the fires have caused great damage and much human suffering, like on Evia.

Wim Voogd, 7/9 (thanks to Vasílis de Grote, who closely follows Facebook reports about Athos)

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2219 – a new discovery on Athos: strange towers close to Esfigmenou on drone images by monk Theodosios

I really thought I had seen quite a lot of Athos and its settlements and buildings (except from the farmhouses-kellia). So I was really surprized that the drone-images from monk Theodosios had something new in store, as can see on the images at the end of this post. But here are first some images from arsanas Chilandariou and the Milutin tower:

Arsanas Chilandariou 5th of March 2021 by Theodosios
Milutin tower: 5th of March 2021: with the extended vineyards of Chilandariou and the arsanas and Ag. Vasliliou in the background
Milutin tower closeby: 5th of March 2021: with the extended vineyards of Chilandariou and the arsanas and Ag. Vasliliou in the background
Milutin tower closeby: 5th of March 2021: seen from the other direction

The next pictures from the drone are taken at the spot below on the map near Esfigmenou, along the Athos costline. This place is seldomly visited by pilgrims, because there is a dead end road to the chapel Ag. Theódori. But there are interesting objects to be found along the coast near Esfigmenou, as the pictures below will soon show us.

Google Earth: Esfigmenou onthe right
Detail of the Athos coast and the dead end road near Esfigmenou: the photo below is taken at the spot on the left side where you see “nr 10” on the map in the sea – from the Peter Howorth map
The Athos coast near Esfigmenou, with Ag. Theódori on the cape: 5th of March 2021

On this part of the coast Theodosios discovered two interesting objects, situated here:

Google maps with the interesting objects at the red arrows
The first interesting object: a stone wall on a cliff near the sea. The spot is only accessible by sea (5th of March 2021)
Seen from the other side: a wall on the cliff
More in detail: a wall headed towards the sea with a slope/stairs to climb it. On top an iron (?) pole sticks out.
Google Earth – geo tack of the pictures
The second red arrow on the photo above is pointing at this spot from Google Earth, with three buildings and a the second sea-site wall
The drone pictures are taken at these places (with the Ag. Theódori on the cape)
The second wall near the sea, with clearly visible a stairs going to the top and a (new) building/kellion on the left: 5th of March 2021
The second wall near the sea, seen from the other side, with the second building in the background
The second wall with its stairs and the chapel of Ag. Theódori
The top of the second wall
The chapel of Ag. Theódori on the cape: 5th of March 2021

The question is why these two walls were build along the Athos coast: the first one cannot be reached by land and they both are near to eachother and on a very remote place. What could be their purpose? Clearly they are not in use anymore because they are crumbling down, but on the other hand they are not not totally ruined, at the harsh conditions where they are situated, next to the sea and at the shore, with its crashing waves. I could not find a plausible answer to these questions.

Monk Theodosios came with the idea that these walls have been build by fishermen, who used the walls to dry their nets. This could be, but why are they so high? And why on such desolate places? And why are these two walls exactly at this spot and why are there no other examples along the (Athos) coast (as far as I know)?

Does anyone have a plausible explanation?

Wim Voogd, 25/8

Thanks to all the wise and helpfull reactions of our readers, with an extensive investication about the subject by Japetus (worthwhile to read!), and also thanks to Vasílis/Efraim, “Byz history Tweep” and Keliotis), who also gave an answer to my question.

Japetus wrote in his first comment: These are ‘thinnoskopeia’, tuna fish watch towers.
A monk would climb on top in order to observe the sea for flocks of fish. Other monks in boats carrying nets, were ready for his signal and as soon as they would hear it, they would row fast to encircle the flock between them.
There is another one of these watchtowers near Agia Anna, known as ‘Thynni’.

This is a picture from mine archive of the Thynni of near the arsanas of Agia Anna, made 2015.

The ‘Thynni’ (or tuna fish watch tower) of arsanas Agia Anna in 2015 – photo by Wim Voogd
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2218 – Oil-painting by Greek painter Christos Baloukos

Sorry, this painting has been sold in one day! 25/08/2021

We proudly present another co-operation between Athosweblog and the Greek artist Christos Baloukos. After the presentation of a couple of watercolors with a 50% discount from August 2020 (still some available at our shop), we can now present the first oil-painting made by Christos.

The special thing about this oil-painting is that is made from a picture from the Athosweblog photo archive (more then 15.000 pictures). Some of of our best photos we shared with Christos and this is the first result:

Simonospetras by Christos Baloukos 2021 SOLD

This painting is unique, so there are no other copies of this work of art. The size is 40×50 cm. You can order them directly from mr. Baloukos at this e-mail adress: cbaloukos@gmail.com. He will take care of the payment by Paypal and the shipping. Also have look at his Facebook and his website.

The prize for our readers for an original Baloukos oil-painting is € 500,00 (including shipping).

Christos Baloukos working in his studio

Wim Voogd, 24th August 2021

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2217 – drone images in the northern part of Mt Athos, part two: skiti Agiou Vasilíou – by monk Theodosios

On the 3th of March 2021 Theodosios launched his drone on the pristine beach of Agiou Vasilíou, in the neighbourhood of arsanas Chilandaríou and the small island (νησί-nisi in Greek) also called Ag. Vasilíou.

Agiou Vasilíou and surrounding – detail from the Peter Howorth map – the best there is, buy it here.
Starting from the beach, island Agiou Vasilíou, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
The island and Ag. Vasilíou, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Island Ag. Vasilíou and the kathisma, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Ag. Vasilíou, arsanas Chilandaríou, the winefields of Chilandaríou and the Milutin tower (on the right) 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Ag. Vasilíou and the island, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Ag. Vasilíou and cape Arapis in the background 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Ag. Vasilíou and the island, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Ag. Vasilíou and arsanas Chilandaríou, with the beautiful turquoise sea, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Ag. Vasilíou and the Milutin tower, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Ag. Vasilíou, arsanas Chilandaríou and the Milutin tower, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Ag. Vasilíou: the church/kiriakon and teh house in front are still in use by a Greek monk, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Ag. Vasilíou, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
The plan of Ag. Vasilíou seen from above, with its turquoise seas, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios

Wim Voogd, 18/8/2021

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2216 – drone images in the northern part of Mt Athos, part one: Esfigmenou – by monk Theodosios

These images are shot on March 5th 2021 by Theodosios Simonospetritis, who shared his pictures with our weblog.

Drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, Esfigmenou, seen from West, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, Esfigmenou the North/seaside facade with a pier, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, Esfigmenou North facade with the banner “Orthodoxia i Thanatos” (Orthodoxy or Death) 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, Esfigmenou, the South facade and entrance, with in the background on the right Cape Ag. Theódori and its chapel, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, Esfigmenou, the South and East facade and entrance, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, near Esfigmenou, the Ag. Antonios chapel in the North, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, Esfigmenou, the Ag. Antonios chapel more in detail, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, Esfigmenou, the East facade, with an overview of the courtyard and katholicon, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios
Drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, Esfigmenou, an overview the monastery and its surroundings, 05-03-2021 by Theodosios

Wim Voogd, 17-08-2021

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2215 – Sunrise above Profítis Elías hill

This extraordinary photo is from the (Greek) Facebook site ‘Filo tou Agion Oros’ of Artur Bleco. Early in the morning 12/8 he made this picture from Sikía beach Sithonía, not far from Sarti.

Wim Voogd, 13/8 (thanks Vasilis)

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2214 – Athos by monk Theodosios: Black and White

This post continues the series of pictures from monk Theodosios, started in post 2208: today I have made a selection of his finest black and white photos.

Mount Athos and lightning-struck tree and moon: 05-04-2006 by Theodosios
A water drop in spiders web by Theodosios
Autumn Forest: 01-01-2000 by Theodosios
Window with flowers and a clock by Theodosios
A desk with books by Theodosios
Monks on the pier spreading Holy Water by Theodosios
Monk in Katholicon by Theodosios
Mega Sabbato in Simonos Petras: 14-04-2012 by Theodosios
Patriarch Batholomew from Constantinople by Theodosios

Wim Voogd, 11-8-2021

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2213 – Athos by monk Theodosios: Space [1]

Pictures from the exhibition in 21-31 May 2009 from monk Theodosios in Thessaloniki/Greece

Exhibition Theodosios pictures 2009 in Thessaloniki
Ouranopolis: the ancient tower of Sydney Loch and Joyce Nankeville by Theodosios
Boats in the seas of Athos:10-09-2004 by Theodosios
Mt. Athos summit and Amalfi tower, seen from Morfounou: 4-12-2005 by Theodosios
Karyes, All Saints Church of Simonos Petras Konaki: 05-04-2006-04-05 by Theodosios
Simonos Petras, aqueduct: 26-04-2007 by Theodosios
Simonos Petras in the Haze: 2018 by Theodosios
Mt Athos coastline in the morning light: 31-08-2006 by Theodosios
The Backside Walls of St Pauls Monastery: 11-07-2005 by Theodosios
Sunset at Simonos Petras with Moon and Star: 20-01-2007 by Theodosios
Simonos Petras in a Moonlit Night: 04-12-2003 by Theodosios

Wim Voogd, 21-07-2021

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2212 – new building activities in the centre of Karyes

The first time I visited Karyes in 1980 I saw, if I remember correctly, that there was still an old building opposite of the Protaton bell tower, next to the chapel of Ag. Nikolaos and the graveyard, here visible on this picture from 1941.

Karyes: left from the chapel of Ag. Nicholaos and behind the mule in the middle: the old building (photo from 1941?)

But when I visited Karyes afterwards, all I saw on this was an empty space, covered in weeds and grass. The old building had been removed.

Karyes 2009

This is how it looked like in 2009, when the empty spot on the left still was covered with grass.

Karyes 2011

The same (empty) spot on the left, now seen from the other side, with the konkaki of Filotheou on the right.

But today things look very different! On Facebook Prodromos Grigoriatis and our reader Vasílis shared a video, made on the 4th of July 2021, from which I took some stills.

Karyes 4/7/2021

This picture shows the main street of Karyes, with its shops and the car parking in the background: on the right there is a green fence, with a hole in it to look through.

Karyes 4/7/2021

If you look through the hole in the fence, you wil see a huge excavation the rock and massive construction activities by workers, preparing the foundations of a large building!

I wonder what will be build here? Rumor has it that it will be a large supermarket. If that is true, is it wise to build something like this on this historic site, that is under the protection of UNESCO? Who knows the answer?

Wim Voogd, 17/7/2021

Update 21/7/2021: today the concrete floor is sprayed on the steel reinforcement grid.

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