On our first day of this years’ pilgrimage to Athos, Father Makarios of Maroudá granted us hospitality in his beautifull cell. Before we went on our journey I made contact with a reader of our weblog and a member of FoMA foothpath team, Efrem, who promised to meet us at Maroudá. Soon after we met he proposed to go for a quick hike, just before Vespers would start, through the (for me) unknown area of Kapsala. This is a valley North of Karyes, between -roughly explained- Skiti Andreou, Maroudá, kellion Nikolas Bouazeri and Profitou Eliou. It is one of the ‘greenest’ spots on Athos that I ever saw, covered with a dence European rain forrest.
But first we will have a closer look at one of the buildings Efrem wanted to show me, the ruins of the large Russian kellion of St. John Chrysostomos. It is said that the first settlement on this spot dates from the 12th century and in 1707 a church was build here. This church was replaced consecrated by the Russians on 13th November 1894. The kelli was inhabited by a brotherhood of 47 members. For more information (in Greek) look here. This is how it looked like soon after the construction of the place was finished:Russian postcard
Let’s have look at the situation 2017, starting with a picture I found on the internet, where the kyriakon can be seen from a ditance:The two floors high church has no windows and part of the roof is about to collapse. This is where it lies in Kapsala:On the monopati, just before a turn to the left, where the path leads the cell of St. John Chrysostomos. The ruin is completely surrounded by trees and shubbery: the only building still standing is the church. All other buildings has disappeared and almost no remnants are left, exept for a high wall on you left hand on entering the settlement.The high wall, probably part of a the white building next to the church: most likely this is where the monks lived in their cells.A gate in the wall, where you could go up the reach the higher located building, with the slanted roof?The church seen through the shubbery The roofing listThis almost looks like an ancient temple in a rain forrest in Cambodja or Mexico: the walls of the church are overgrown by trees and plants, thus slowly ‘eating’ through the buildings bricks.The door to the church and the stairs going to the first floor.
Next time I will continue this photo essay with pictures of the interior.
Wim Voogd, 6/6