1937 – May 2017: the flight over Athos

This year I booked a flight above the peninsula of Athos to take aerial pictures. Because of busy times at  work I was not able to sort out all the pictures, that’s why it took some time to share them with you. In totall I made 452 pictures during this flight of more than two hours, and a video, which has also has to be edited yet. Our hight was about 1300 feet (about 400 meters).

To make a start I will first show you the aerial pictures of the twenty monasteries, in its original “Athos”-order:01 DSCN3817 Lavra 2 (Large)01 Lavra02 DSCN3898 Vatopedi 5 (Large)02 Vatopedi03 DSCN3850 Iviron 3 (Large)03 Iviron04 DSCN3919 Chilandariou 2 (Large)04 Chilandariou (and its Pine-forrest: read the last post of Bas Kamps)05 DSCN3768 Dionysiou 205 Dionysiou06 DSCN3857 Koutloumousiou Nikolaos Bourazeri and Karyes (Large)06 Koutloumousiou – in the background. We followed the coastline and did not fly over land.07 DSCN3867 Pantocratoros (Large)07 Pantocratoros08 DSCN3753 Xiropotamou 208 Xiropotamou09 DSCN 3737 Sografou Jitze (Large)09 Sografou – photo by Jitze Bakker, who joined me together with Tadeus 10 DSCN3743 Docheiariou 210 Docheiariou11 DSCN3836 Karakallou (Large)11 Karakallou12 DSCN3840 Filotheou (Large)12 Filotheou13 DSCN3763 Simonosptras 2 (Large)13 Simonos Petras14 DSCN3776 Pavlou 214 Pavlou15 DSCN3873 Stavronikita 3 (Large)15 Stavronikita16 DSCN3745 Xenofontos 2.JPG16 Xenofontos17 DSCN3765 Grigoriou 217 Grigoriou18 DSCN3916 Esfigmenou 4 (Large).JPG18 Esfigmenou19 DSCN3749 Pantelemonos Roussikon 2.JPG19 Panteleimonos20 DSCN3909 Konstamonitou (Large).JPG20 Konstamonitou – in the far right corner of this picture.

More about this flight, the pilot and how to book it in a next post.

Wim Voogd, 19/8

Posted in 01 Lavra, 02 Vatopedi, 03 Iviron, 04 Chilandariou, 05 Dionysiou, 06 Koutloumousiou, 07 Pantocratoros, 08 Xiropotamou, 09 Sografou, 10 Docheiariou, 11 Karakallou, 12 Filotheou, 13 Simonos Petras, 14 Paulou, 15 Stavronikita, 16 Xenofontos, 17 Grigoriou, 18 Esfigmenou, 19 Panteleimonos, 20 Konstamonitou, trip 2017 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

1936 – Esfigmenou, first day, last leg.

The dirt road lingered down, until it finally met the flat and wide dirt road between Chilandariou and its harbour. That busy road, to Athonian standards, is lined with cypresses. Along its way there are so many cypresses, you could almost call it a cypress forest. Chattered you will find some small buildings that were made to carry crosses and to offer a resting place for the tired pilgrim. We rested for a while in the shade watching workmen who had dug a big trench along the dirtroad. They used big machines and were busy putting enormous tubes into the trenches. Probably a new fresh water supply for Chilandariou. Our fellow pilgrim Jaap had suddenly pain in one of his legs, after our very long walk, all the way from Thibais, crossing the peninsula, and he lay down for a while. We shared a few energy bars for the last stretch to Esfigmenou.  We met several happy and proud Serbian groups of pilgrims, coming back from an afternoon stroll to Esfigmenou. At the Y-crossing, taking you to the harbour or to Esfigmenou, we saw a big Japanese SUV standing there. There was a monk inside. We asked if he would be so kind to bring Jaap to Esfigmenou because of his sore leg. After an initial hesitation the monk allowed Jaap to join him in the car. The last descent to Esfigmenou gives a wonderful perspective on the monastery, with the sea as a backdrop. We were still not sure if we could receive hospitality, if we could stay the night there. We were mentally prepared to stay outside for a night. Going back to Chilandariou was not an option, considering Jaaps condition. At the gate we met him again. He had already paved our path and to our relieve we could stay.The view from the guesthouse where we were served some cold pasta with a vegetable sauce. Plain but pure food, exactly what we needed after our 20 km walk. That evening in the dormitory we met the excellent photographer and Athostraveller Div Rajkovic from Serbia. He travels the peninsula intensively.

Left from the main gate of the complex is a nice pool, filled with carp. We were not allowed to eat with the monks or to visit the church. But we are always surprised by the monks friendliness. They must work really hard, they have little, if any, support. They form an autonomous, autark, corner in the peninsula.We inspected the route for the next day, over the ridge; the Way of the Bey. This is an old sign to Vatopedi, not our route this time. We needed another path. We had some interest in finding the right path, because we clearly remembered how we got lost between Esfigmenou and Vatopedi.I took a closer look at the peculiar through-the-window-chimneys I have described before.The last picture of the day, taken from the water tap that we used to brush our teeth. The harbour is deserted. The ferries don’t stop at Esfigmenou. Only one monk is fishing at the end of the middle pier. At the horizon we see the island Thassos vanishing into the tranquillity of the Athonian night.

Bas Kamps

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1935 – Father Thalleleos

Father Thalleleos 1971
Father Thalleleos at Karoulia with Spyros Bafaloukos (1953-2015) who then had just finished his exams to enter the Medical School of the University of Athens. He later became a cardiologist. This photo was taken by his friend Nicholas Exadaktylos in 1971. In the background the hole in the rock.Father Thalleleos 1971 Karoulia
Unfortunately I have no further information about Father Thalleleos. If you know more, please react.Father Thalleleos 1971 by Nicholas ExadaktylosFather Thalleleos by dr. Nicholas Exadaktylos who recently posted all his 1971 Athos photo’s here. A very nice collection!Nicholas Exadaktylos, Mount Athos 1971 at the age of 24.

Karoulia 2017 by Herman VoogdIn May 2017 I took this photo of a hermit at Karoulia. It is almost the same spot as the images above. Karoulia hole in the rocks 2015This is the location of the ” hole in the rock” at Karoulia. Photo by me taken from the ferry in 2015.

Herman Voogd

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1934 – Div Rajkovic, photographer and a true friend of Mount Athos

Here, in one of the dormitories of Esfigmenou we met Div Rajkovic in May 2017, a very friendly man from Serbia also known as Lazar(us), his Athonian name. We had an interesting conservation about Esfigmenou and how friendly the monks where when he started talking about a Dutch blog about Athos which he liked very much. With proud feelings and gratefull for this recognition we told him that Bas and I (and my brother Wim) were the authors/webmasters of Athosweblog. This surely broke the ice.
Div Rajkovic told us that he travelled between the monasteries and sketes with a great interest in monastic and hermit life. On his Facebookpage he writes that he studied at the Karoulian Lifestyle School but his profession is photographer and he showed us some nice images that he made with his phone. I asked him to send me some examples of his photographic work which he did and which I hereby present:
Anonymous locations on the Holy Mountain which speak for themselves.
The islet of Vasiliou near the arsanas of Chilandariou.
Windmill of Profitou Eliou with Pantokratoros in the background.
The photographer clearly visited the dwellings of the hermits of Karoulia which are very difficult to reach, only by using chains to climb up and down. He even climbed to the famous hole in the rock at Karoulia. I will end this beautiful serie of photo’s with two sunsets over the Holy Mountain.

More photo’s on his Facebookpage. Thanks Div!

Herman Voogd


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1933 – video: a Dutch vlogger climbing Mount Athos

A Dutch hair stylist and vlogger from Rotterdam climbed to the top of the mountain last July. He made a funny ego-video of his hike, with the use of a drone!

Wim Voogd (thanks Vasílis)

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1932 – Workers at Mount Athos

Muleteer working in the streets of Nea Skiti, 2017Muleteer at Kavsokalivia transporting goods from the harbour to the settlement, 2013
Muleteer on the path between Lavra and Skete Anna near Stravros 2011

Workers at the main entrance at Simonas Petras monastery.Restoration workers from Georgia at Mylopotamos in 2013.Repairing the roof of Esfigmenou monastery in 2009.Workers at Dochiariou explaining that we were not allowed to take photo’s, in 2011.

Head of the wine production at Mylopotamos with a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine, 2009.

Volunteers helping with the grape harvest of 2009 at Iviron.

Kitchen staff

Workers for the wine production of Mylopotamos helping in the kitchen of father Epifanos, 2013.

In 2014/15 this man from the USA was temporarily helping in the kitchen of Dyonisiou but also told us amazing stories about his life and orthodoxy.

Transportation (motorized)

This bulldozer driver is trying to get his vehicle on the road again after he slipped of the track.  This was in the winter of 2014/15 near the maingate of Paulou monastery.
Unloading goods in the capital of Karyes in 2017.Transportation of wood at the harbour of Iviron in 2015.

Other jobs

An Albanian worker is drilling holes for planting olive trees at Marouda , 2017.
The baker of Karyes wrapping up the spinach pastry, the delicious spanakopita in 2017.These men are in some kind of meeting at the Dafni harbour cafe. It is a kind of office and they are clearly at work but I don’t know what there job is, 2014.customs at Dafni 2011Custom officer at the harbour of Dafni, 2011.

Herman Voogd

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1931 – In the Athonian desert, first day, part four

DSC_2714.b.web.As Boris predicted, there was a sign guiding us to Chilandariou. A bit later than expected. But still there was a sign. Here with pilgrim Jaap who is preparing his walking sticks.

Due to the devasting fire the landscape had changed, as we will see. And even the dirt road takes part of the erosion process. The road is washed out and only accessible by four-wheel-drive.DSC_2717.b.web.The clearance of the trees gives room for smaller plants and shrubberies to develop. Changes give new opportunities for new plants. The burnt wood leaves nutrition in the soil. An abundant amount of flowers appeared in large fields giving a picturesque view on the Holy Mountain. An inspiration for impressionists.DSC_2724.b.web.gifThese man-high thistles with their intense purple flowers contrast nicely with the clean white clouds and the green stalks.DSC_2728.b.web.The dirt road twists and turns to reach the highest point on a range of hills. Then it binds the one top of the hill with the next. And that continues for a long and winding time. It is hard to get lost here. All is very clear and open. There are practically no crossings.DSC_2730.b.web.The lack of trees gives wide open views on the surroundings. Here we are looking north and see the old wind mill of Chromitsa, known for its wine fields. The wind mill has changed its source of energy from wind into solar power. Behind it we see the profane beaches of the town Stratoni, with its much disputed gold mines in the hills above the town.

This part of Athos is almost without any human activity. There are no monasteries or sketes. No buildings what so ever. Only the dirt road. It is an impressive emptiness. Sydney Loch, who lived in the Byzantine tower in Ouranopolis used to walk here from his home town via Chromitsa, and Proto Nero, the first water, to Chilandariou, the first monastery.DSC_2732.b.web.We discovered an artificial lake, used as an water reservoir. It will take a while before this a full grown forest again, if it ever happens. The fire was extinguished on august the 12th in the year 2012. Most of the images of the aftermath of the fire have been taken from the ferry. But here, in the inland, walking through the vast hilly and barren lands, the immense impact of the fire grabbed me by the throat.DSC_2734.b.webA clear symbol of the fire. The fir tree blackened by the fire and bleached by the sun with mount Athos as a back drop. The fresh greenish vegetation represents the hope for the future.DSC_2740.b.web.Pilgrims Jacques and Jaap on their way. The evolution puts us back on four feet again with the aid of the walking sticks. We had planned to go to Chilandariou but is was fully booked. So we decided to take the risk and try our luck in Esfigmenou. We know about their reputation but they have been very kind to us before, so we hoped we could receive hospitality there. If not, we would try Chilandariou again. And if that would not work, we would sleep outside for a night. Under the clear sky.DSC_2742.b.web.Clear sky? Suddenly black clouds packed over our heads. We were still walking on a ridge and very exposed. No shelter for miles. No place to hide. A thunder made me quiver. We unpacked our rain gear. The disturbing weather moved away quickly to our relief. There were only a few thick drops of rain.DSC_2746.b.web.On the northern site of the ridge the road drops. The landscape here looks terraced like Indonesian flooded rice-fields. As if it had been used a long time ago.zygos kaart.detail.Because of the fire we couldn’t find any of the red trails, the monopati, that were indicated on our maps in this part of Athos, that is called Zygos. The fire destroyed them all. Probably forever, unless the Friends of Mount Athos find their way here and do reconstruct the old paths. Which is rather unlikely because the trails in this part of Athos go from nowhere to nowhere.

The scan is taken from the very detailed Peter Howarth’s map of Athos (2016). I added a green line as an indication where we walked. Needless to say that we didn’t meet a living soul there, in the Athonian desert.

Bas Kamps, 5/7/2017

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