1478 – The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor

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In the early 1930s at the age of 18, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out to walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. He wrote two books about this trip: A Time of Gifts (1977) and Betweeen the Woods and the Water (1986). The last and final volume he never finished.  In 2013 this last volume is published under the name of The Broken Road, from the Iron Gates to Mount Athos. The text  about Athos is from his only surviving diary describes the weeks he spent on Mount Athos and was writen on the spot. The part about Athos is very interesting and I will present some quotes by Fermor together with my own recent pictures.

1 dafni

Dafni is an small fishing village, with low stone buildings, thick walls and massive outdoor ladders and steps to houses. I was the only persons who disembarked here and had to wake up the inn.

2 xerapotamos

After another half- hours climb the high sunny walls of Xerapotamou (named from a torrent that runs by its gates) came into view, with the jutting, beam-sprung upper stores, tall chimneys, and gleaming cupolas of the chapel.

3 kutlumusiou

Koutloumousiou is one of the smaller monasteries, and not so rich as some, but the monks received me very kindly and led me to a guest chamber.

4 iviron

Iviron: After vespers, an old monk took me round the library – masses of old Byzantine manuscript, the parchment heavy with gilding and multicultureel allegories of devils, saints, virgins and martyrs, all wonderfull graphic.

5 stavronikita

At last the monastery of Stavronikita came into view, wild , feudal and mediaeval in aspect, built in the crest of a crag overhanging the sea, its massive walls running up in lofty windowless bastions to the little windows and jutting balconies above. 

6 pantokrator

Pantocrator is only about one and half hours from Stavronikita and, like it, stands fortress-like on a rocky headland reached by a winding, cobbled paths, over crumbling bridges, and under wooden vine trellises.

text by P.L. Fermor and photos by hv

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