1800 – Inside Pantocratoros (day three, first intermezzo)

When we entered Pantocratoros after our stroll from Vatopediou, we found the monastery in deep rest. We conquered the monastery without being noticed. Nobody in the courtyard. The church was closed. Opposite the church we heard the sound of dishes. We just missed the lunch, but a very friendly hospitable monk invited us to the empty trapeza. He quickly served us a wonderful meal which we ate gratefully, in silence. The nutritious vegetarian meal contained stuffed bell peppers with noodles, a salad with cucumbers, slices of bread and peaches for dessert. There was no wine.

Because we were alone in the trapeza so I felt free to take a few pictures there.4251 trapeza pantocratorosThe ceiling shows a bright orange and yellow geometrical pattern. It contrasts with the parade of saints on the walls. It was all so clean, bright and shining inside. Outside as well. It must be a well organised and well managed monastery.

In post 1234 Wim explains the fresco on the left: the deathbed of Efrem the Stylite from Syria, who died probably June 9th 373.  He was a great teacher of asceticism. It reminded me of that other famous Stylite: Simeon. He stood on pillars for fourty years when he finally lied down. His pillars were of progressively greater height. The last one being 15 meters high.

In Syria Simeons pillar can still be seen, if the site is not damaged by the war.4255 trapeza paontocrator
A still live just opposite the entrance of the trapeza. I found the similarity between the painted black cloth and the recently left cowl on the table striking. Only later I saw that part of the fresco, just above the marble floor, was damaged to make a socket for the vacuum cleaner or whatever electric machinery. Yes, even inside a trapeza, progress is on its way.4258 church pantocratorThe cupolas of the catholicon; the church of the Transfiguration. John Julius Norwich writes about the colour of the church: “..of the deepest, purplish red, almost loganberry”. The Loganberry is a crossbreed between blackberry and raspberry.4266 pantocratorosThe quiet reflections of the glass in wood on the marble floor of the exonarthex from a very low perspective.
4277 kiosk pantocratorosA glance at the kiosk in front of the entrance of the monastery. It feels save behind the heavy iron doors. Though they did not stop the Turks in 1386.

The entrance building is in the lower part of the lower Medieval tower.cuville pantocratoros 1918This photo from Fernand Cuville shows Pantacrator in 1918. Behind the kiosk is the entrance with the heavy iron doors. I find his colour pictures (Autochromes) of Cuville of an extreme serene beauty. The faded and distorted, impressionistic colours add to the alienating effect. It’s like a pointillistic painting. We are looking into a scene from almost a century ago. His pictures deserve a big exhibition.4287 herman voogd pantocratorosPilgrim Herman contemplating the forces of nature. The waves collapsed with great force on the pier. The entrance to the arsanas of Pantocratoros is very narrow and hard to enter even with relatively mild wind. Or as John Julius Norwich put it sharply: “Pantocratoros, …., occupies the top of a rocky promontory overlooking a Lilliputian harbour.” Sometimes Norwich can exaggerate a bit, I think, but this time it is a correct description.

We had not seen a ferry or a kaïk, yet. It is time to move on to Iviron, but our first next stop will be Stavronikita.

Photos and text

Bas Kamps

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2 Responses to 1800 – Inside Pantocratoros (day three, first intermezzo)

  1. Sean Surlow says:

    Thanks for the very nice photo essay.

  2. Bertinos says:

    It is indeed very well managed. The monastery guest house has a hotel quality to it, and the restoration is nearing its end. The monks are even building a phiale in the courtyard, while there has never been one in this monastery.

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