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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1993 – Skiti Agia Anna

When we arrived at the skiti Agia Anna we found it lively and busy. There were quite a few pilgrims. We sat down at the covered outside table and were pleasantly surprised by the traditional welcome: Greek coffee, water, tsipourou, and loukoumi.

The carpets were cleaned outside the guest house.On the ridge of the triangular square are stone seats and a fixed semantron.Not so very long ago, in Oktober 2001, the same place looked a bit different. Picture taken by Raymond Geldermans.Just right of the semantron is a little fountain, decorated with a vase full of flowers. The terrace delivers a fantastic view over the sea.In the little chapel I burned a candle and thought about the loved ones that died in the year before. It is a special little corner for me. Coming down from the summit of Mount Athos in October 2011 we slept here in Agia Anna and I burned a candle on the same spot.

The fresco’s show an amazing variety of abstract patterns. The church was built by Patriarch Dionysius Vardalis in 1666. That makes Agia Anna the oldest skiti on Athos.Just outside of the gate is a sign guiding you to Nea Skiti and the monastery Paulou. High above it a large bell tower. The water system looks improvised.

The skiti is also the largest on Mount Athos. There are fifty cells and about 85 monks. The Skiti belongs to Lavra, where we just came from, but is quite a long walk away.And on our way again, to Nea Skiti, where we hoped to spend the night. The yellow plant is a Ferula NodifloraI remembered the same scene, probably painted from the same spot by the Russian painter Belyukin. The work of art is called “the daybreak at Saint Anne couvent”. See more of his work here.Only recently I gave a photographic impression of our arrival at Skiti Anna. Now I found another similarity.This drawing of Ferdinand Bauer (1760 – 1826), from Austria, shows about the same situation in 1786-1787. Many houses have been erected since. The bell tower and the church are clearly present. But if you take a closer look at the picture you can see several houses. This drawing is from a series called Mediterranean scenes, that was never published but in the frontispiece of the Flora Graeca there is an image that was made after this drawing.  The long horizontal building on the recent picture houses the donkeys. The red building under the bell tower is the guesthouse, that you see up close in the first photo of this blog.

Bas Kamps

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1992 – Flora Graeca: Cyclamen, Oleanders, Ferulas and Euphorbia

The pink flowers of the cyclamen like the shadow of the Mount Athos forests. The image above is from the book early 19th century botanical book Flora Graeca

The oleander is often to be found in or around the monasteries.

The monastery of Konstamonitou and the harbour of Dafni.
The Ferula Nodiflora I saw uphill near Lavra.

The Ferula Nodiflora with green beetles above Lavra.
The Euphorbia Dendroites likes the rocky ground.
In Thebais the plant even grows on the stone wall

But Euphorbia will not only grow on rocky soil even on the Dutch clay it is doing well. This is the small front yard of my home in Haarlem, The Netherlands. So when I look out my window something reminds me of Athos.
For browsing the complete Flora Graeca and the original drawings check this.

Herman Voogd

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1991 – The Strawberry tree

Every now and then when walking in Mount Athos the Strawberry tree appears alongside the path. Here on the left,  with in the distance Simonos Petras. The Strawberry tree or Arbutus unedo is widespread in the Mediterranean region. The Latin name was given by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. This botanical image is from Flora Graeca, the book with prints from drawings by Ferdinand Bauer. Browse in volume 4 of this beautiful work, made in 1823,  here. Every time I stumble upon this tree when walking the paths of Athos I am overwhelmed by the intense red colour of the bark of this tree. Here in combination with the green leaves and the white snow in the region of Nea Skiti.
The tree is a so called evergreen, with leaves even in winter.
In summer the red bark is also clearly visible. But why is it called Strawberry tree?The fruit looks like a strawberry, it is sweet when it is red and tastes similar like a fig. The red berry is used mostly for jam, marmalades, yogurt and alcoholic beverages. Many regions of Albania prepare the traditional drink rakia from the fruits of the Strawberry tree.  
The fruits can apparently also look like this, or is it another species? In the background the Vatopedi monastery.
The Arbutus Unedo is undoubtedly my favorite Mount Athos tree.

Herman Voogd

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1990 – On our way to Néa Skiti

It is a long and very steep, rocky, descent from Stavros to Katounakia. From almost 800 meters to 200 meters in less than 2 kilometers. The Nordic walking sticks proved themselves going downhill.The only encounter we had was on a levelled terrain with a mule man, who led a small caravan of mules loaded with small logs, more like twigs. Most of the trees are small on this southern edge of the Holy Mountain due to the arid climate. He walked on silently and only gave us short nod as a greeting.When the view finally opened we could see Daniiléon, with that other peninsula Sithonia in the background.The steep rocks above the settlement gives a good impression of the steepness. We were separated from the skete by a deep, wooded valley. Daniiléon is dedicated to hagiography. It was founded by the monk Daniel Daniilidis.Finally, when we were down at 200 meters, you reach a t-crossing. On the left the monopati leads to arsanas Katounákia and on the right the path goes to Agia Anna. Near that crossing we found one of the most peculiar phonebooths on Athos. You need a card to operate it. We didn’t use it. We wondered how many pilgrims or monks would ever use this phone. Maybe it is just forgotten by OTE, the Greek Telephone company (ΟργανισμόςΤηλεπικοινωνιώνΕλλάδοςΑ.Ε.). It looks forgotten, anyway.katounakia.pngThe view to the southern end of Katounákia. It consists of 17 cells scattered around on a rather large surface. The cells are not only known for hagiography but also for their wood carving. The photo mergers the sea and sky in a infinitive horizon.The view to the northern end to a skete called Kimíseos Theotókou. The area is called Mikra Agia Anna. Close to each other are several kelli like Genisios Timios, Apotomis Timiou Prodromou and Anastaséos Christou. The buildings are situated in a fold in the mountain and are quite hidden from the sea. Here we see more renewable sun energy for the monks.
It’s very steep here. The terraced way of building makes the houses accessible and makes it possible to grow vegetables.Another cell on the edge. In the background we see the famous Monastery Simonos Pétras with its acqueduct and its arsanas. As the crow flies still at least 8 kilometres away.A very bright wild flower, the Euphorbia dendroides (tree spurge), that only grows on protected and sunny mountainsides in hilly areas. A poisonous plant but its sap is used to cure skin problems since ancient times and it makes you vomit. (Wikipedia).The dirt road to Paulou leaves the worst zigzag scars on the whole of Athos. I would like to see that undone. Not even Euphorbia helps to heal those deep scars in the skin of the Holy Mountain.4 mules
Pilgrim Jacques made a fascinating picture of four mules enjoying their freedom, without any loads. The dark blue sky contrasts with the sunny patches and gives the images a threatening atmosphere.
The monopati, taken from a little shrine in a cave. Just behind the bend the path continues to the scattered dwellings of Skiti Agia Anna, where we will arrive next time.

Bas Kamps

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1989 – The two aqueducts of Pantocratoros (and Happy Easter!)

First of all: Happy Easter for all our readers, Christos Anesti (although the Orthodox Easter is next week)!

This time of year always remembers me to my pilgrimage in 1986 during Easter-time, when we visited Dionysiou and joined a log vespers in church from 23.00 h. to 6 o’clock in the morning. A very memoral moment in my life! Two days before, on Good Friday 28th March, I took these pictures in the Protaton church of an icon of the deposition of Christ, surrounded by spring flowers. But this post is about the aqueducts of Pantocratoros:

May 9th 2017: Pantocratoros monastery and spring flowersLet’s have a closer look at the aqueducts of Pantocratoros. Most pilgrims who visit the monastery will pass the first aqueduct, that is situated at ‘1’ in the red circle in the Google Earth picture below. But there are more aqueducts!First let me show you the hike we did from Karyes to Pantocratoros, 7 km’s length. Watch out, don’t take the direction of Profitou Eliou as we did by mistake. I would advise to take this path (see the red arrows):On arriving at the monastery you will see this – first – aqueduct. Two horses  are grazing the land, a foal lies near the olive tree.The aqueduct with a horse and a foalThe first aqueduct is not in use anymore, but is in relatively good condition. The road along the monastery that leads to the second aqueduct, again with spring flowersThe second aqueduct, with the Pantocratoros in the background. This aqueduct is also not in use anymore and in a poor state of maintenance.The second aqueduct behind the bushes (nr 2 in the picture above). Scaffolds keep the cracked walls straight andthe arches are supported with a wooden construction. If nothing is done I fear that this aqueduct will collapse within a few years…. On our way to Kolitsou and Vatopdi I turned and took some pictures of panorama, here and the next picture, Stavronikita and Pantocratoros When I took a closer look at this picture I saw a wall with black spots that looked like small arches and resembled yet another aqueduct!But with the help of our reader Silviu Cluci, who wrote a comment on my blogpost and shared a more detailed picture (see below), I had to leave my surmise about a third aqueduct. The “small arches” are water tubes used in the garden!!manastirea_pantocrator_pantokrator_athos_-_foto_silviu_cluci_4025

This last picture is taken high above the monastery, just before we left the Pantocratoros area, with a hill full of chamomile flowers.

Wim, 2/4

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