1783 – Twenty monasteries in seven days : day 3, Lavra

This is the third episode of seven of the  Athos trip done by Goulven Le Goff and his brother Ivonig from Rennes, France made in May 2015. They visited all 20 monasteries in one week.  The descent to Lavra.
This whole day we descended to the monastery of Great Lavra. We also visited Prodromou which is not on the map.
1We had to get there early in order to wash our two spare clothes and to have the time to dry them before the sunset, so we left the summit very early, as two Bulgarians were yet asleep under the chapel’s scaffolding.
2We reached Panagia again, with several pilgrims who spent the night there with the aim to finish the climb in the morning.
3         4Up to the Romanian skiti of Prodromou, there is not one meter of dirtroad on the long way from the Mount Athos summit to Great Lavra. A well kept path going through an ancient forest containing gigantic trees.
5b      5Before reaching Great Lavra, we visited the Athanasius cave and the adjacent Romanian skite of Prodromou. Its katholikon looks very different from Greek ones.
6       7
From Prodromou the only way to go to Great Lavra seems to be a dirtroad, with a finish on a path. Great Lavra is the oldest Athonian monastery and you can feel this while watching its enclosure, walking on the courtyard and feeling the atmosphere. Even if it remained the first in importance, its peripheral position seems to dissuade pilgrims to visit it : we were only with a dozen sleeping men there this night.
8      9As soon as we got our accomodation, the first real one since the beginning of our journey, we did the laundry and hung our clothes outside the room, with the agreement of the monks.
10     11The Great Lavra courtyard is full of ancient buildings, churches and chapels ; here are an ancient cellar and the refectory.
12As in other monasteries, it is not possible to take photos inside the katholikon, but we could get some of the narthex, with its typical stain-glassed windows.
13 door                                                 14aHere are two details of the narthex : a wrought iron door and a wallpainting depicting hell.

15a                                16The three bulgarians which we slept with on the summit joined us in the evening. The one wearing glasses was a pilgrim, the two others were members of the FOMA organization, working hard to update the paths.

Text and photo’s Goulven Le Goff, Ivonig Le Goff, some editing by Herman Voogd

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