While the world is hit hard by the invisible and sometimes deadly Corona virus and while we are all waiting in our lockdown to go back to normal live again, a few signs of hope immerge. In most countries the infections by the virus decline, and our doctors and nurses have less stress after all their hard work. They are the real heroes in these past weeks. And although the Iera Epistatia in Karyes is still very cautious and recently decided to prolong the shut-down of Athos for visitors and pilgrims until May 31, Greece wants to reopen their borders for tourists on June 15th and even charter flights from Amsterdam to Thessaloniki will be resumed on June 3th. I wonder how it has been for the monks the past weeks: no one to care for and to talk to, no voices of visitors, almost empty churches and trapezas. But on the other hand the lockdown has given them a good security against the virus and they have had more time to pray and to contemplate about the state of the world (as we also did in the last weeks).
But anyway, let’s focus on something totally unimportant, the last pictures that I made in the Agiou Paulou monastery in October 2019. We will take a closer look at the courtyard and inside the buildings. Again I start with the plan of the monastery, made by Mylonas in 1980.
This photo shows the North East corner of the monastery, with the katholicon on the right and the defence tower rising up above the buildings on the left. The map is not accurate anymore, because the building left under the defence tower is new. Buildings Γ2/3 and Z2 on the plan used to be the bakery and the guesthouse, but this is not the case anymore (see photos below).
The keystone from the new building, dated: 19th of October 2014.
In the wall of the new building is an old water tap from 1820 constructed.
Here the new building ends and the old walls appear, at spot B1 on the plan. The stairs that are drawn on the plan have also disappeared. The katholicon is on the right. This katholicon is relatively new (start construction 1844) and is one of the few Greek churches on Athos without any wall paintings inside. In Russian churches this is more common.
Between the protecting walls and behind the katholicon a narrow passage leads us to the other part of the courtyard.
The passage leads to the bell tower (A1) and in the background you can see the corridor that goes to the entrance (Δ).
The bell tower seen from the West wing,
with some (small) bells and large wooden semantron.
The West wing (Z -guesthouse) with smaller wooden semantron and stairs that go to the exo-narthex of the katholicon.
The dome of the katholicon in evening light and,
the wall behind the katholicon. Notice the (empty) niche in the middle (and a plane above it!).
In this corner of the courtyard you see a water tap from 1894 and column/statue in memory of a monk called Kirillou from 1882.
I found my way in and took this photograph through the mosquito net of building Z:
The katholicon seen through a mosquito net.
Trying to find the Agios Georgios chapel I ended up at this balcony, somewhere near the defence tower.
When I turned the camera to the right, I saw the road behind the monastery, that leads to the North.
Yet another balcony, this one on the West -sea- side of the monastery, with the kathisma of Agios Nektarios in the background.
At the same spot, but now I pointed my camera to the South, showing the kitchen gardens/vineyards of Agiou Paulou ,with the chapel of Agiou Markou in the background.
On my way out from the West wing I saw this fine, colored ceiling and a hall way where the cells of the monks are.
and I found these scale models of parts of the monastery (H, K and N /West side) and the katholicon, and a slightly primitive painting of Agiou Paulou.
Outside, in the courtyard again, I found these remnants of (classic) old stones and capitals of columns.
More old stones and crosses, on display in the courtyard, near the bell tower of Agiou Paulou.
And when you leave the monastery through the gates and look back up, you will see these beautiful buildings, with an odd round lookout on top.
I will end this ‘close look at Agiou Paulou’ with two pictures I took from the air in 2017:
Wim Voogd, 20/05