510 – A trip to Athos (day 3 nr 1)

Sunrise Lavra – 3 may 2007

When I visited Athos in 1980 for the first time the Holy Mountain was still in a deep crises. After the revolution in Russia and the two World Wars the situation on Athos was dramatic and some said the end of nearly a thousand year of monasticism was close by. I visited the Russian monastery and heard that only 8 monks survived of the once large community, that counted appr. 3.000 men in twenties of the last century. Not only the absence of monks, but also the buildings were in a deplorable state of maintenance and there were no signs that things might get any better.
I remember visiting the monastery Sografou. I already told you about the wooden toilet hanging on the outside of the wall, but even in 1997 somebody in Chilandariou warned me not just to stroll along a corridor where the old cells of monks could be found, because the wooden floor was too dangerous to walk on.
Old floors in Chilandariou – 1997 (maybe burnt in the last fire ?)

On my next journeys in 70/80-ties I saw things clearly started changing in a positive way. First of all the number of monks increased rapidly and with the help EU-funds the monasteries were renovated systematically (and – I’m said to say – also the roads, which ment that a lot of the old paths disappeared). But the atmosphere on the Mountain did not really change and on the other hand you could benefit a little bit, because the guesthouses became a more comfortable place to stay. But still, I remember an evening in Vatopedi in 1997 when I walked in the courtyard after sunset and suddenly saw myself in a bright neon light coming from a modern stainless steel “hospital”-kitchen with all the up-to-date equipment you could dream of ……… Not very romantic but undoubtedly a big help for the monks who had to do all the cooking and dish-washing.
This picture shows you the modern toilet-facilities (and showers) in Lavra: you did not hear me complaining !
Lavra – New bathrooms – 2007

Old facilities -1986

After a short walk through the courtyard of Lavra, where we admired the ugly tower with bells and a chapel with an icon of the Panaghia,

Panaghia chapel – Lavra 2007

we left Lavra through the front door and continued our tour with a minivan that brought us to the well of Athanasius and Karyes: day 3 of our pilgrimage started!
Front doors of Lavra – 2007

Wim, 25/6

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1 Response to 510 – A trip to Athos (day 3 nr 1)

  1. monk says:

    Danke veel! For wonderful site and nfo, we have an interdenominational list of 400 members for monastic subjects, contemplation, hesychasm, spirituality, mysticism, vocations, hermits, bishops, priests, laity, info and news, at http://groups/yahoo.com/groups/monasterion


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