To continue the travel- and photoblog from our September 2015 pilgrimage we took the early morning bus from Iviron to Karyes and then later another bus to the harbour in Dafni, where we wanted to sail to Simonos Petras. I had been there in the winter of 2014/2015 with my sons for a quick visit, because of the extreme weather conditions. And we had to hurry to be sure we were on time in Grigouriou before the gate would close at sunset. Now we were back in very different weather and time conditions. And we planned to have more time to wonder around.The arrival at the arsanas of Simonos Petras with the Agia Anna. The rock of Peter above. The monastery towers over the harbour building. The monastery itself is compared with the Potala in Lhasa by Robert Byron (not the Lord). A striking similarity.
A steep but stable path, designed like stairs, leads to the monastery 330 meters uphill. No road from the arsanas, only a path. There is some shade along the way. Half way there is a small chapel and a place to rest and drink some water. Here is the crossing to Grigouriou. The place where we left our backpacks in good confidence.After the long climb, sometime with hairpins, the complex finally appears in its full glory. The low perspective makes it even more imposing. In the front we find the neat and well-kept vegetable gardens. There is a lot of repair work on the left hand site of the building. Even Peters rock is completely covered in very high scaffolds. As if even the rock on which the monastery is build needs to be strengthened.
A closer look at the peculiar iron crosses on the wooden entrance gate of the kitchen garden. Walking further up on the right hand side there is a beautiful long pergola with ripe grapes and kiwis that leads to the guesthouse. We first had some water and a coffee there before we explored the complex.
We wanted to go to the kiosk for the view of the monastery with the sea as the backdrop. This is a view from the hill side looking down to the complex. The impressive triple aqueduct can be seen clearly also on this photo by Robert Byron made in 1926.
Zooming in on the well-restored aqueduct that brought in fresh water for ages. It was once a Bulgarian monastery, then later the monks came from Ionia, but recently the monks left Meteora in Greece, to repopulate it after the complex was almost uninhabited in the seventies of last century.
The superimposed building on the rock. Along the building is a wooden corridor. The monastery suffered in its history at least three great fires, in 1581, in 1626 and in 1891. After the last fire it was rebuild to the way we perceive it now. In 1990 a fire was stopped in time.The narrow outside corridor can be walked but it asks for trust in the construction and trust in the Maker and an absolute absence of fear of heights. It gives access to the katholikon and the refectory. This is the first of the two copper bells.The second copper bell on the other site of the balcony. It has an stunning view of the sea, deep down. It is too far down to hear the waves. You’re as close to heaven as you can get here.
The small and intimate refectory. We tried to get a place to sleep here both in winter and during this trip. But due to renovations and restrictions we couldn’t stay. You need good relations to stay there for the night; others succeeded where we failed. So we had to go all the way down again to Grigouriou, which is on sea-level.