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.
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.
On the left you can see the masonry ruins of the makeshift arsenal at the foot of the Old Tower.
Could this be a remnant of the lost monastery Xerokastrou between Megali Jovanitsá and arsanas Sografou (see the red arrow)?
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.
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)
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:
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.
On this part of the coast Theodosios discovered two interesting objects, situated here:
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.
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:
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: email@example.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).
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.
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.
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.
This is how it looked like in 2009, when the empty spot on the left still was covered with grass.
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.
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.
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.