2251 – Swiss photographer Fred Boissonnas in Vatopedi -1928/30

On my last journey to Athos in September/October 2022 I spend one day in Thessaloniki. Because we published the photos of the photographer Boissonnas earlier on this weblog (1485), I made a visit to this small museum MOmus on the pier in the centre of town, where an exhibition of his work was on display.

Museum of Photography MOmus

It was a nice exhibition, but for me as a Athos-fan, I also expected some his pictures he made on Athos during his visits in 1928-1930. There were none, alas. But when leaving I saw at the entrance that a book was on sale with all his Athos-pictures. It was already published in 2006, but only in Greek , so it did not come to my attention yet. You can buy the book here.

Fred Boissonnas -Athos pictures 1928-1930

Because I spend one week in Vatopedi together with my friends of the FoMA footpath team I tried to retake some of the pictures Fred Boissonnas took in 1928, so 94 years later. Let’s see how much has changed (or not!).

14/27-8-1928: the gate and entrance to Vatopedi with mules on the right side.
The entrance on Mat 10th 2017: sadly this photo is not taken from the right angle,

At the gate of monastery not many things have changed in the past 89 years, allthough there is a new cross on top of the dome of the chapel. Inside the gate there some new murals and outside on the left many Koi carps are swimming around, but otherwise things are still the same here.

14/27-08-1928: Vatopedi courtyard with the source of the Austrian benefactor Peter Müller, the chapel of the Holy Girdle on the right and the tower of Christ’s Transfiguration on the background
29-09-2022: Vatopedi courtyard

What is striking that the amount of trees inside the monastery walls has increased substantially, and unfortunately they block the view. In the South West corner on the right you’ll see the two chapels of the Saints Theodori (upper level) and Minas (lower level). Here also are te guestrooms of the archondariki. This part of monastery is more or less in its original state and is not renovated yet. On the top floor of the tower our contact in the monastery, father Andrew lives.

23-9/6-10-1930: the source, given by of the Austrian benefactor Peter Müller
28-09-2022: the same spot, with a large tree!
A Latin text (why?) on the source: “This source was given to the venerable fathers by Peter Müller and his companion a.d. 1860”, (with some mistakes in the spelling {fuit = est and de = a}. Could it been a rush work, my Latin language expert and travel compagnon Bart Janssens asked himself, who also took this photo).
14/27 August 1930: Vatopedi courtyard

28-09-2022: except for the trees that now grow in the courtyard, almost nothing changed
14/27 August 1928: the phiale, with the chapel of Ag. Thomas in the background
28-09-2022: the Phiale, seen from a slightly different angle, with probably The three Hierarchs chapel
22-9/5-10-1930: the marble throne next to the door to the Katholikon
28-9-2022: the same spot, nothing changed here

22/9-5-10-1930: the clock tower with the Jackmart and the phiale next to it, and on the right the bell tower. In front of the bell tower is some kind of source, that has disappeared nowadays.
28-09-2022: the same spot, next to the bell tower a building with a round door was added
22 September/5 October 1930: Vatopdi, the interior of the trapeza
1980 – the interior of the trapeza with the blue color, that has disappeared a couple of years ago, when the walls were restored with white paint, as it was in 1930.
22 September/7 October 1930: outside the Vatopedi walls: a view of the ruins of the Athonasias academy, with two storeys still in situ, and with the aqeduct on the right.
09-05-2017: most of the ruins walls did collapse, only the aqeduct is still fairly intact.

Below I show some pictures of Vatopedi from 1928/30, that I didn’t make a double of on my last trip or that I don’t have a double of in my archive.

On the last picture you see a monk walking around the church with the traditional semantron, to announce that church service will start soon. What surprised me was that this act was not performed during the week I stayed in Vatopedi. Does that mean they have stopped this tradition?

Thanks to Fred Boissonnas, who is looking very seriously on this self-portret. He lived from 18 June 1858 – 17 October 1946, and came from Switserland.

Wim Voogd, 24-10-2022 (to my knowledge there is no copyright any more on showing these pictures, but if it does, please contact me).

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1 Response to 2251 – Swiss photographer Fred Boissonnas in Vatopedi -1928/30

  1. Yves Milonas says:

    Thank you Wim, interesting comparation of the pictures.
    About the semantron : one week before you we stayed at Koutloumousiou and the semantron was used. We also stayed at Vatopedi and indeed no semantron by my memory… We also stayed a Dyonisiou that week but I can’t remember hearing the semantron there.

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