1321 – the cave of Athanasius

More then five years ago I expressed my wish to visit the cave of the founder of the Lavra monastery (see 116, the text at that time was still in Dutch).

In 2011 I finally had a change to go find it. After dinner in Prodromou I went out on my own and after a short walk between low bushes I reached the cliff, where rock cut stairs with about 200 steps led down.


Google maps: the probable position of the cave of Athanasius

My friend Jitze just returned from Athos last week and he took this picture of the area.


Prodromou on the left with the Akrathos cape on right.

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Detail of the cape with the cave

Akrathos prodromou

Detail from the Zwerger map: almost in a straight line below Prodromou you can see a symbol of a cave and a chapel

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The area of Akrathos with low vegatation and a cross.

04-10 cave of Athanasius 2Here starts the 200 steps leading down to the cave

04-10 cave of Athanasius 3Somewhere halfway down: a well and a place to rest

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The white house in front of the cave: there is one monk who takes care of this spot, he lives in the neighbourhood as a hermit. He was just closing down that evening and wanted to end his day when I showed up. He was very friendly and he gave me some time to take some pictures.

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After climbing a wooden stair you reach a small chapel with an icon in front of it: unfortunately the door was closed.

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The cave with a chapel in it

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The roof of the chapel, leading into the original cave.

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The chapel just fits into the cave: the right wall is rock and the left wall is the chapel

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Sydney Loch wrote in the ’50 that the cave “hung between sky and sea in the cliff-face”. There is also a story that Athansius found an icon in this cave and that he tried to bring it back to Lavra three times, but every time the icon miraculous returned to the cave. Those thing never happen to my St. Nicolas icon at home, it just hangs on the wall …..

Wim, 22/9

(next time more about my visit to the last house on the cape of Akrathos, with a story about the special monk living there)

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