After our arrival at the Great Lavra, we sat and rested for a while at the archondiriki. We had walked the kalderimi from Prodromou. We received the hospitality gratefully; fresh water, Greek coffee and loukoumi. Four impressions taken directly from the guesthouse, that is on the first floor (second floor for Americans).
We had some time to spend at the Great Lavra. Our taxi bus would arrive in two hours. So we had time to roam around to explore the monastic complex.
The tower with its battlements, a chapel, the Holy Mountain and the deep blue sky encircled by the fresh, green, leaves of a chestnut tree.
A monk and an layman were preparing the vegetables for lunch or dinner in the open air. It was an impressive heap of food and a mountain of left-overs.
I was happy to see the fountain, Phiale, again. The shape of the iron double headed eagle is somehow very appealing to me.
The pillars are quite peculiar. I wonder about their origins. They might be pre-Christian. There are more pre-Christian artefacts in Lavra.
The semantron hangs outside. Except for bells and the human voice, it is the only musical instrument allowed on the Holy Mountain, this wooden percussion instrument, the semantron.
The ancient cypress, the cypress of Saint Athanasius, the founder of the Great Lavra, is said to be over a 1000 years old. The monastery was founded in 963, so this year exactly 1.067 years ago. The cypress is seen through the bright red glass from the exonarthex of the Katholikon. There was no service in the church. All was in perfect rest.
I found some medieval cannons hidden away in a forgotten corner. Herman made a recent weblogpost about the cannons from Lavra.
There are more out of use things to be seen. Here is an old, wooden, stretcher for the ill. Behind it you can see two tilted iron doors that are similar to those used at the gate. And some spare church bells.
The swallows were very busy, flying in and out their nests. It was clearly feeding time. I watched them come and go for a while.
Then it was time to get into our minibus to Karyes. From there with the big bus to Dafni and then the boat to Simonos Petras. This way of travelling over the peninsula was quite new for us. Walking from monastery to monastery is the default situation. But we wanted to grab the opportunity to sleep in the incredible impressive Simonos Petras, which was new for all of us. So we travelled along the coast, to the main town, over the ridge to the other side of the peninsula, and waited for the boat that would take us to the arsanas of Simonos Petras. From there it is only 300 meters up.
The wooden stretcher mjght not be out of use (I am not sure). It may still be a stretcher for carrying to their graves monks who have fallen asleep in the Lord.
The red cypress is a classic photo. Part horror film, part flipped out acid vision, but in fact perfectly at rest as you say, in it’s medieval fortress.