In 1997 we walked from Vatopediou to Konstamonitou. After passing the famous spot called Chera – “The Hand” we followed the rigde of the hill towards Paliopyrgos. We came to an open spot where timbermen cut all the trees.
Detail from the best map of Agios Oros by Ronald Zwerger, Wien, Austria
It showed out that the path did not continue – at least, we could’t find it. And from the place we were standing we could see the roof of the monastery we wanted to visit, Konstamonitou. Somebody in the group suggested to go through the bushes, it would be not more than 1 or 2 kilometers. I was somewhat reluctend, because I read stories of people leaving the path in Athos and never to be seen again. And for people who did not visit Mount Athos, I can assure you, the thickness of the bushes, trees and plants is sometimes amazing, it’s a sort of European “jungle”. We decided to take our changes and go.
After taking this decision my advice to others is: never do the same ! It took us almost 2 hours to get to the monastery and we had to struggle our way to get through. I wil never forget this hazerdous trip, gliding from 4/5 meter high waterfalls, being caught by the torns of plants and get totally exhausted in the end. When we finally arrived we looked like wild men.
Because we were not of the orthodox faith our possibilities in this monastery were limited. We were not allowed to join the monks at dinner and had to eat in the kitchen seperately. Furthermore the monks were not very friendly. This is the plan of the monastery:
2. Archondarikion (guesthouse)
C. Clocktower (see picture above)
D. Ag. Nicolaos
E. Ag. Konstantinos / Ag. Eleni
F. Aghii Pantes
J. Wine cellar
L. Igumeneion (Abt’s place)
N. Maghirion (Kitchen)
P. Conference room