1648 – Herman Hissink and Athos

hissink op athos

Herman Hissink (1915-2011) was  a teacher in the Dutch language at the Christian Gymnasium (nowadays Gymnasium Sorghvliet) in the Hague, The Netherlands. From his early youth on he was very fond of traveling and nature. He told his pupils very enthusiastically about his travels and one day 3 of his students asked him if they could join him on his travels. With this first group (“oergroep”) he made trips on bicycle to France and Italy. In 1956 he went for the first time to Greece with 4 of his pupils. Tourism to Greece started on a larger scale in the late 70ties so it was rather unique to travel through the unspoiled country walking the monopatia with donkeys for their luggage.  They made camp in proximity of the ruins, looking for fresh water and hiking in the mountains from village to village. These visits made him totally hooked on Greece.  His students considered it an honour if Hissink invited them to join the group.

hissink portret

Hissink at the age of 90, portrait by Lidwien Chorus, 2005.

Herman Hissink visited Mount Athos at least 7 times, always in the company of his students. This was from 1969 till probably 1976.  Two of these pupils who went with Hissink to Athos in the 70ties, Gerard Koolschijn and Wim Oudshoorn, I recently met in my hometown Haarlem. Gerard Koolschijn, who was principal (1984 – 1990) of the same Gymnasium  in The Hague where Hissink teached for 36 years, is now a writer and published a book called Geen sterveling weet (No mortal knows) in 2012. This book contains a chapter with a very vivid account of his Athos travels. The following pictures are all made by Herman Hissink and were kindly given to me by Gerard Koolschijn to use for this blogpost. Many thanks.hissink 2
Mr. Slotema, friend of Hissink and Gerard Koolschijn eating in Kavsokalivia in 1971 talking with a travelling monk who repaired watches.

hissink 11 hissink 8
Wim Oudshoorn is sitting on the left in Panteleimonos or Grigoriou and the students in another unknown guestroom.
hissink 5 arsArsanas somewhere between Lavra and Iviron. Taking the small boat to Iviron, 1974
hissink 14
Iviron, waiting for the boat. Probably in 1969.
hissink 6 beek hissink 7 karovas hissink xeno 13 hissink stavros 16
Walking the monopatia (1971), Karovastasi (1970), reaching Xenofontos (1971) at resting at Stavros (1971).
hissink simonopetra 18Hissinks students in 1970 posing in front of Simonospetras with Koolschijn on the right and Oudshoorn with the red T-shirt. In the orange T-shirt Dutch writer Nicolaas Matsier (Tjit Reinsma).
hissink vatopedi 9
hissink stavros 17Panteleimonos with the students  1970.
hissink 4 iviron hissink 3 dafni
View on Iviron 1974 or 76                                View on Dafni and Xeropotamou 1974 0r 76
hissink 1 pantPanteleimonos 1974 (?)
hissink podromou 12Monk and his mule before the gate of skiti Podromou 1974 or 76.

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8 Responses to 1648 – Herman Hissink and Athos

  1. Fremaki says:

    Superb unknown pictures ! Thanks for sharing them.
    BTW, the ‘Vatopedi’ picture is in fact ‘Pantokratoros’.

  2. athosweblog says:

    Thanks Fremaki!

  3. Vasílis says:


  4. Hans Overduin says:

    Een wat verlate reactie i.v.m. de wederom hectische kersttijd: ik vind de unieke foto’s extra interessant aangezien onze zoon momenteel op Sorghvliet zit. Ik heb direct een link gedeeld met de huidige rector van Sorghvliet, dr Hans Rookmaker, die bijzonder ingenomen was met deze blogpost en vervolgens de nodige (voormalige) collega’s op de hoogte heeft gebracht. Ook voor hem waren de foto’s onbekend. Dank Herman voor deze fantastische bijdrage.

  5. Michalis says:

    Very good job! Had Herman Hissink visited the Grigoriou and Esfigmenou monasteries? Are there any photos or writings of him about them?

  6. danratziu says:

    Reblogged this on casa creștinului.

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