The first time I visited Karyes in 1980 I saw, if I remember correctly, that there was still an old building opposite of the Protaton bell tower, next to the chapel of Ag. Nikolaos and the graveyard, here visible on this picture from 1941.
But when I visited Karyes afterwards, all I saw on this was an empty space, covered in weeds and grass. The old building had been removed.
This is how it looked like in 2009, when the empty spot on the left still was covered with grass.
The same (empty) spot on the left, now seen from the other side, with the konkaki of Filotheou on the right.
But today things look very different! On Facebook Prodromos Grigoriatis and our reader Vasílis shared a video, made on the 4th of July 2021, from which I took some stills.
This picture shows the main street of Karyes, with its shops and the car parking in the background: on the right there is a green fence, with a hole in it to look through.
If you look through the hole in the fence, you wil see a huge excavation the rock and massive construction activities by workers, preparing the foundations of a large building!
I wonder what will be build here? Rumor has it that it will be a large supermarket. If that is true, is it wise to build something like this on this historic site, that is under the protection of UNESCO? Who knows the answer?
Wim Voogd, 17/7/2021
Update 21/7/2021: today the concrete floor is sprayed on the steel reinforcement grid.
If you are interested in obtaining a high quality resolution print of the Theodosios pictures, please contact me by e-mail and I will foreward your request to him (more information: see Shop, oldest item).
In part one and two – posts 2205 and 2206 – I showed you the postcards from the first 17 monasteries. In this post I will present the postcards of the remaing three: nr 18, Esfigmenou, nr 19, Panteleimonos or Roussikon (with a large amount of postcards), and the 20th monastery, Konstamonitou (also called Kastamounitou). And to finish the postcards-posts I will publish some images from skitis and other places on Athos.
Read more about the 1968 fire in this post. The following old postcards are are from before 1968, with all the buildings of the monastery still intact.
Panteleimonos, date unknown, French: this probably a photograph taken in the photo studio of the monastery, where two Dutch pilgrims found a treasure with (mostly broken) old glass-negatives in 1976 – for more information see post 861 and 862. On the last photo in post 862 you can recognize the same piece of furniture as on this picture.
This last picture from December 1956 of a monastery is riddle to me, because I could not determine which monastery it might be. Lavra perhaps? Who can help?
B Skiti Andreou
C Nea skiti
With the written text, in German: “habe die Adresse verlegt, gebt sie bitte Frau Neuss” meaning : I have misplaced the address, please give it to Ms. Neuss.
D Skiti Agia Anna
E Skiti Prodromou
According to me this might very near the spot where the German army had their flag position, overlooking the Eastern and Southern coast of Athos. Soon after the Second World War the place was demolished. Could the stones at the foreground be a parts of it, or should we look for pieces of concrete (more to the edge on the Soutern part of this ridge?). I am determined to find this place once!
F Skiti Profitou Eliou
G Miscellaneous postcards
The large kelli lays near Karyes: you can see the building on the foreground has scaffolds and is not finished yet. The workers threw large amounts of building material in front of this building. The fine bell tower has disappeared in the meanwhile, but behind it a beautiful new church is build recently.
This ends the overview of Athos postcards over the centuries, I hope you liked it.
In part one – post 2205 – I showed you the postcards I found on the internet of Karyes and the first eight monasteries. In part two the next monastery is:
This is fourth postcard from Zepdji. Until now I discovered three other postcards made by Zepdji in 1917: one from Vatopedi (see last post), one from Docheiariou and one from Karakallou. These postcards are made during World War I, when Athos was under the occupation of a French/Russian army, as we will notice from the written text on the backside of this postcard.
My French is not good but in the middle of the text I can read this: “je suis en bonne santée” and “hier nous avons de bombardes par les aviont” etc. meaning something like: “I am in good health” and “yesterday we have been bombared by airplanes”. Who can help translating the complete text? (thanks DD from France for translating the complete text: read his comment).
Most photographs from the Sografou monastery are made from the hill opposite the monastery and show us the West wing, with on the left the annex where the kitchen just be (at least in 1980).
On this postcard, probably made later then 1917, another annex is added one floor higher to the West wing of the monastery. Left is the North wing, with the entrance. On the top of the oval protruding part in the West wing is the trapeza (with a dome).
Next to the gate in the North wing, you seen long streched building, where the archondariki is situated. Nowadays it is completely renovated and luxurious. The other houses are for workers/laymen.
On this postcard you can see the roof of the trapeza with its dome and on the right the katholicon. On the foreground the South wing of the monastery. This picture is probably shot from the opposite hill with a telelens.
Although this postcard has been published before in post 1065, I added it again because I want to bring all the Zepdji postcards together. This one differs from the other because it had no numbers on it and also is in English. Could it a be (illegal) copy of the original?
Photo taken from the sea with the arsanas buildings
This photo is almost identical to the previous, taken from a slight different angle.
Here the tree in front of the boat house has been felled and new tree grows next to the house on the right: a picture taken in a later year probably.
Aerial photo, with building activities/scaffolds at the boat house. The pier has been enlarged and a small one has been added, to create a tiny harbor. Luckily the ugly red construction crane is not this postcard. I do not know when they put it next to he North wall, from 2007 until now I have been spotting this disfiguring red monster. Is it allowed to let stand there, in Unesco heritage site, for more then a decade?
The text on this card resembles the text that was used by soldier “Pierre” on his postcard of Vatopedi in 1917, which I showed you in part one of post 2205, postcard nr 12. Could they have known each other as a soldier of the French army and copied each others massages on the front of the postcard?
Another Zepdji postcard from 1917, with another French partially legible text on the postcard: “pouvoir tu ? ? quelques ? ? ?”. The photo shows the North wall of the monastery. In the background you can probably see kellion Timiou Stavrou.
On this postcard the South and East wall is photographed.
On this postcard the South and East wall, with the gate, is photographed.
Much has changed in the meantime, as you see on the 3D model from Google earth below. In the empty corner left a building (S/W corner) has been added and lower part of the opposite wing has been transformed in a two floor building(North wing).
The three postcards are almost identical, only the climbing plant on the right wall in the first photo is smaller.
14 Agiou Paulou
Three postcards from the same spot/angle, almost identical to each other. The facade and the the buildings at the entrance have been altered and the large pine tree in front of the kiosk has been felled or has fallen.
Stavronikita is my favorite monastery, one of the only remaining, without electricity inside the monastery. Nothing has changed here until today, luckily.
This postcard shows the long Eastern wall of the monastery: the right part of this wall does not contain buildings, as is common with Athos monasteries. Until recently the North wall also only consisted of a wall, but nowadays part is filled by a new building (more information in post 2062). In the background the islands of Amouliani appear and the Greek mainland in the North.
Mistakes were made even in old times: here a French postcard printed in Paris shows us Grigoriou and the text mentions: St-Paul.
This is clearly a postcard bought by tourists who do not visit Athos, as we can learn from the text: Edith goes shopping and window gazing in the morning and spend the afternoon on the beach!
What is interesting om this postcard is the old tower on the right side of the monastery, whitch is even better visible on the next two postcards.
On both full color postcards you can see the old ruined and high tower stil standing. It has been removed in the meanwhile, as you can see on the picture below from 2019:
Maybe the old tower is a remnant of the great fire from 1761, when the old parts of the monastery were distroyed totally. I am not sure when the ruin of the old tower is removed. According to the other pictures of Grigoriou that I have in my archive, I could find out that the ruins of this tower has been demolished between 1909 and 1956. What is assuring about Grigoriou that the iconical palm tree is seen on almost every picture!
Sending a postcard home was in former days a way to let friends and family know where you have been and a pilgrimage to Athos is no exception to this tradition. As early as 1905 the first postcards from Athos appear, mostly with a text in French. The early cards with photos were mostly printed abroad or I presume, in Thessaloniki. I wonder where you could buy these postcards back then, I think it would not have been easy the find them. There is one card of Iviron that gives us a clue (see below).
On our weblog we showed you in previous posts already many other postcards, for example in post 1334: 66 postcards of all 20 monasteries. Today I will present (in this part one) a few more (old) postcards, not only from all monasteries, but also from the “capital” Karyes and (later) from some skities:
00 – Karyes
On both postcards you can see that the current building of the Holy Epistatia with its white stairs, left from the old tower where the ‘Tragos’ is kept and the bell tower of the Protaton-church, is not build yet.
02 – Vatopedi
In 1917 a French/Russian army occupied Mount Athos (see post 1950). Maybe this postcard is written by one of the soldiers.
03 – Ivirón
What is striking here is that this picture showes the South wall. Most pictures are from the Eastern or Northern walls. Visible is a large brown elevation (rocks?), that end at a green area close to the wall. Behind it a gap is filled up by a red wall, while at most monasteries the courtyards are completely surrounded by buildings. Nowadays this area has been cleared totally and a new building has been added at the red wall, as you can see on the aerial photo I took in 2017:
The gap in the Southern wall is clearly visible here. The old tower is, just as on the postcard below, still in ruins.
This picture shows a part of the arsanas left, the East wing of Ivirón, now with the renovated tower in the background.
04 – Chilandariou
You can read more about the artist Reinhold Zwerger and Athos-map maker in post 1339.
In 1980 I visited the Holy Mountain for the first time and Ivíron was the first monastery I stayed in. Thirtynine years later I finally visited the last monastery of the 20, Xiropotamou. Although the monastery is easy to reach from Dafni (only 2.1 km, a hike a little more then half an hour), many pilgrims pass this place whilst traveling in the bus to Karyes or taking a boat further down the coast. So I am not the only one who completes the tour of the 20 monasteries with a visit to this, I am sad to say and also according to other pilgrims, rather inhospitable monastery. Not that they are unfriendly, because on our arrival we were treaded with a lovely lunch by a English speaking archondaris from Georgia and later with a beautiful room, but for us non-orthodox pilgrims the church and trapeza were kept closed and any contact with monks was avoided meticulously. Even a group of orthodox pilgrims, who asked politely to see the katholicon, were denied to have a look and left disappointed and a little frustrated, before hiking to a next destination.
But anyway, we started our hike from Dafni: the first part leads along the dirt road to Karyes. Soon after the arsanas of Xiropotamou a kalderimi goes up to the monastery.
The path going up to Xiropotamou monastery, standing on the bridge over a dried-up bed of a brook.
The dried-up bed of the brook that leads to the arsanas
The old stones of the kalderimi, fairly intact
Along the path: a praying mantis
The West wing of Xiropotamou seen from the kalderimi
The fence at the end of the kalderimi: here it goes down to Dafni
The main entrance to the monastery
The special gargoyle at the South/West corner: a dragon?
An old picture of Xiropotamou: the tower of the portico building is still in ruins at that time. This ruinous state of this part of the monastery is still confirmed by the plan made by Feigl in 1980.
On the Feigl plan of the monastery you can also see that the old path/monopati from Dafni continues here to Karyes. Some parts of this path should still be in use, as you can see on the two maps from Zwerger and Howorth (marked with a red line). I wonder if anybody recently walked on these paths on a hike to Karyes?
The archondariki building left of the entrance (builing U) is totally renewed nowadays, as you see on the next picture, that I took during my flight over Athos in 2017.
On a picture above from the main gate you can see that on the right side of the main entrance a new wall, with vines growing in front of it. This is how this place looked like in 1928, according to this postcard.
On this aerial photo (below right) is clear that the old wall and building has been removed totally at some point.
For the time being, no covid vaccination certificate, private pcr test, selftest etc. are accepted to enter Athos. All visitors -with no exception whatsoever- are required prior to receiving their diamoniteria to undertake a -free- rapid test from a post located just outside the diamonitiria office. To all those with negative results, a receipt is given which presenting it is required both at the diamonitiria issuing office as well as when boarding the ship.
Finally some good news: Orthodoxia News Agency has just reported that the Holy Mountain will again receive pilgrims from tomorrow, May 11, 2021. The lock-down period ends today, May 10th. However, there are restrictions:
for each monastery ten diamonitiria/visitors,
for each koinobitic skiti five,
for each idiorritmic skiti two and
for each kelli or hermitage one diamonitírion/visitor.
Hiking/travelling from one monastery to another is still forbidden, you can only visit one monastery. The restrictions include the mandatory tests for the coronavirus at the entry points of the Holy Mountain, with only those with negative results beiing allowed to enter.
According mr Lolis Christos from the Pilgrimsoffice in Ouranopolis/Thessaloniki these few special permits are given by the monasteries or skitis/cells themselves. We will have wait a little more until the general permits to visit Athos reopen.
For a few pilgrims this is good news, let’s hope that the general permit for all pilgrims will be back soon.