2187 – the Dutch photographer Cas Oorthuys and Athos in 1957-4

source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam: contact sheet nr 4

Originally Cas Oorthuys and A. den Doolaard planned to stay five days on the Holy Mountain. They wanted to stay a night over in Vatopedi, but because they arrived by boat from Ierissos they did not posses a Diamoniterion yet, so the abbot told them to move on and go to Karyes first, to collect the needed passport, the ‘permit to stay at monasteries’. Their hike to Karyes was not easy, because there was a heat wave with tempatures in the shadow of 45C. After they recieved their Diamoniterions they stayed the night in Karyes, I presume in the local hotel above the restaurant. In his book “Greeks are no gods” A. den Doolaard describes how they went to visit Koutloumousiou the next day, the monastery very near Karyes. But Cas Oorthuys does not have any photos of this monastery in his collection. I think A. den Doolaard mixed this monastery up with Xeropotamou, the monastery on the other side of the ridge of Karyes, near Dafni. Cas Oorthuys has photos of this monastery in his contact sheets (and also from Dafni). Later that day they took a boat from Dafni to Dionysiou, passing Simonos Petras and Grigoriou monasteries. The second night they slept in Dionysiou. The following day they took a boat back along the West coast of Athos, passing the monastire mentioned above and Dafni, ending up in Panteleimonos, where they slept the third night. The last day they took a boat passing Xenofontos and Docheiariou (see post 2186). The boat stopped at the tower of Sidney Loch at Phosfori, now Ouranopolis. From here they went back to Ierissos and enjoyed a good Greek meal.

source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam

The courtyard of Panteleimonos monastery (or Rossikó). On the right the Katholicon, left the bell tower and the phiale.

Panteleomonos: the katholicon, belfry and East wing 2017 – photo Jitze Bakker
source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam

The small church/chapel and the katholicon with two palm trees.

Panteleimonos 1980 – photo Wim Voogd

Almost the same spot in 1980: parts of the monastery were distroyed by fire.

source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam

Monks visiting Panteleimonos monastery with a group of pilgrims. A. den Doolaard discribes in his book that the “three dozen” monks, who lived here in 1957, were very old men. When I visited the monastery only 20 Russian (and a few Greek) monks survived….

source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam
Panteleimonos 2009

The same spot in 2009. The monastery was almost completly renovated and rebuild that year, no ruins remained, except for some buildings outside the walls of the monastery. On the top floor the Dubble church is situated, where Cas Oorthuys also made pictures (not (yet) avialable for me).

source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam
source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam – detail of the picture

According to me this is one of the most iconic photographs Cas Oorthuys made on Athos. The old monk in the trapeza of Panteleimonos symbolizes the sad situation in which they were. His eyes stare into nothing and clearly show the hopeless situation of that moment in time.

A. den Doolaard says in his book about the scene:

‘The meal was as simple as it was stylish, yet it doesn’t charm my heart; for all over Rossikó lay the melancholy of dying. The monastery was cut off from the tribal land, no novice passed through the gate, and the old monks died one by one’.

Two original photos from Cas Oorthuys of this dinner in the trapeza hang on a wall of my favorite Greek traiteur in Amsterdam, Romios. The (former) owner Marijke went to school with a daughter of Cas Oorthuys in Rotterdam and she got these originals as a gift.

source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam

more pictures of monks eating dinner in the trapeza of Panteleimonos.

source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam

This original also hangs on the wall in restaurant Romios, Ceintuurbaan 350 in Amsterdam.

source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam
source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam
source: Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands fotomuseum Rotterdam

An earthenware jug on the quay of arsanas Panteleimonos.

Wim Voogd, 30 December 2020

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