2229 – earthquakes near Athos Sunday 16th of January 2022

Earthquake recorded 16-1: the red Star is a 5.4 magnitude.

Monk Theodosios reported to me that earthquakes were felt on Athos today.

“They occured in the sea south of the monastic community, some 33 km from Karyes, and had a magnitude of 5.4. The quake even rattled Attica, 225 kilometers away. The Geodynamic Institute of the National Observatory of Athens estimates that the tremor was at a depth of 7 kilometers. The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) registered the magnitude of the earthquake at 5.4 and the depth at 5 kilometers” (source Ekathimerimi.com).

There are no damages or injures reported so far.

Wim Voogd, 16-1-2022

Posted in nature, news | Tagged | Leave a comment

2228 – spectacular drone photo’s of the Amalfi tower

Morfonou bay with the Amalfi tower (photo by Theodosios, 05-05-2021)
Amalfi tower on the Peter Howorth map

The Amalfi or Morfonou Tower is what remains of the old monastery of Amalfinon, one of the first major monasteries of Mount Athos, founded in the 10th century by seven monks from Amalfi, Italy. The monastery -and the tower- was built in the 10th or 11th century. 

After the Great Schism of 1054 the Christian church broke up in two sections, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. And with the decline of Byzantium, the community of the Amalfi merchants in Constantinople declined also. The monastery was finally abandoned after the Fourth Crusade (1202–1204). Deserted by monks, it was granted in 1287 by Andronikos II Palaiologos to the Monastery of Megisti Lavra. Apparently, the tower remained in use -probably to support the defense of the area against pirates. It was refurbished in the 16th century and essentially a new fortification was built over the old byzantine tower.

These pictures of the tower are made on the 5th of May 2021 and the maker shared his pictures exclusively with Athosweblog.com. To my knowledge no other pictures were made before at such a short range and that hight of the tower. Even a picture from above and inside the tower will be shown here.

The Amalfi tower from above

It is obvious that the condition of the tower is in a terrible state. Trees are growing insde and between the stones of the walls.

Inside the Amalfi tower
Amalfi tower in 1986 – photo by Wim Voogd

In 1986 things looked very different, because the whole hill was stripped of all bushes and trees at that time. Let’s have a closer look at the top of the tower:

The North facade of the Amalfi tower, with in the background the snow on Mount Athos. Stalactites hang under the two large niches in the wall
The East facade of the Amalfi tower, with in the background the mountains near Lakkou skiti. Saplings grow out of the wall, where more red bricks are used
The South and most interesting facade of the Amalfi tower, here also many bricks were used in three niches and a cross on he left. Above the cross and on the right side are two marble stones with decorations on it
The left corner of South facade of the Amalfi tower, with awhite marble stone amd the red cross
detail of the marble stone: plant decoration with grapes and leaves (?)
The South facade of the Amalfi tower, with a marble stone showing a decoration and left from brick niches
detail of the last picture: on the left a brick niche with the letters “IB” in it (?) and on the right an richly decorated eagle (NOT the double headed eagle, frequently seen as the symbol of the Orthodox church)
The West facade of the Amalfi tower, with Morfonou bay in the background (photo by Theodosios, 05-05-2021)

Three photo’s of the base of the tower, hidden in bushes

One the (former) windows of the tower
Another window or door of the tower

Looking at the photo reportage I think it’s high time to do something to save this building from destruction. So I do an appeal to the KEDAK official’s to reserve fundings tp preserve this extraordinary remnant of the early history og the Holy Mountain. And I wonder what a acheological survey would bring to light if the old monastery is found. The image below shows how promising this survey might be.

Below the Amalfi tower: important findings of archeological artifacts

Wim Voogd, 16-1-2022

Posted in history, ruins | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

2227 – snow on Athos 12-01-2022

Main street Karyes 12-01-2022 by Prodromos Grigoriatis

One of the monks on Athos that I follow on Facebook is Prodromos Grigoriatis. He lives in Karyes and last year he was the first who shared the news with us about the new large building that is constucted in the centre of Karyes. Yesterday he surprized us with a live footage from the white streets of Karyes in a film of almost 15 minutes. I took the liberty to make some stills from his video (thanks!).

Main street Karyes 12-01-2022 by Prodromos Grigoriatis: in front of the restaurant a snowman with a pan on his head!
Karyes 12-01-2022 by Prodromos Grigoriatis: the new building has reached the second floor level.
Karyes: main square, bell tower and Protaton:12-01-2022 by Prodromos Grigoriatis

Wim Voogd, 13/02/2022

Posted in Karyes, nature, news | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

2226 – photos from buildings to be renovated in Dafni

One of our readers Vlado Bespalov was so kind share the pictures he took in October 2021 of the buildings belonging Simonospetras in Dafni. The are to be renovated and the work is already in progress:

The old buildings in Dafni with an forklift (notice the solar panels on top of the roof!).

A hallway inside the building, and belwo a bedroom and another hallway
A large (and famous) icon of the Panaghia, here shown as the Patrones of Athos
Lists of paintings, windows and old stones in a room
Prayer chairs and a door the balcony overlooking the sea
The balcony overlooking the sea and the harbour
The stairs going down

Thanks to Vlado Bespalov. In the near future I will write another post about these buildings and show you the pictures I made on this spot in 2019.

Wim Voogd, 18-12-2021

Posted in 13 Simonos Petras, Dafni | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

2225 – a new Athos painting by Christos Baloukos

A new Athos painting by Christos Baloukos – December 2021

Last Saturday 11th of December my friend Christos Baloukos from Athens surprized me with his latest oil painting, that he published on Facebook (30×40 cm). The painting is made from a picture I took in 2013 at Esfigmenou monastery.

In his typical rough style, the essence of my photo is laid out in oil in the rough strokes of his palette knife. Another beautiful work of art by this gifted artist! For more information about the artist and how to buy it read more in our page SHOP.

2013 – an Esfigmenou monk picks up his washed clothes – photo by Wim Voogd

Wim Voogd, 14/12

Posted in 18 Esfigmenou, art | Tagged , | Leave a comment

2224 – Father Makarios from Maroudá is vaccinated

Father Makarios from Maroudá kellion, 70 years old, one of the most hospitable and friendly monks of the Holy Mountain, was infected with COVID-19 this summer and luckily survived the severe effects of the Corona virus, although he approched death, as he said in footage of Reuters. He is now also vaccinated now. This is what he said about vaccinations:

Of cource we have faith in God and God protects us […], but science is something in de hands of God, God enlightens the scientists so they can protect humanity.

What a wise man he is, I hope to visit him soon, hopefully next year (also see post 1775, with pictures from five years ago).

Father Makarios
Father Makarios in the trapeza of Maroudá
Monks with anti-corona masks in Karyes

(photos credits: Reuters)

Herman/Wim Voogd, 24-11

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2223 – Corona on Mount Athos: update 8 / 08-05-2022

Update 8 – 08/05/2022: our Athos friend Vasilis visited Athos during Easter. From his Facebookpage we learn that although in Greece most corona measures have been abolished, a quick Covid test still is mandatory before entering the Pilgrims Bureau (Grafio) in Ouranopolis and collect your Diamonitirion. New is is that a picture is taken from your ID-card or passport by the Greek police. This is introduced for different reasons, for example to combat crime (looting) and money laundering, according to this source Romfea.gr. A least 70 extra uniformed and secret police are based in Ouranopolis to supervise the 20,000 visitors. It is also meant engage in other suspicious actions, especially in the midst of the ongoing crisis in Greece and the West in general and the relation with Russia. Last week the following monasteries were still closed fror pilgrims: Lavra, Iviron, Simonos Petras, Grigoriou, Dionysiou, and Xiropotamou. In Vatopedi they asked the visiting pilgrims to do an extra Covid-test, before entering the monastery (thanks Vasilis for sharing this information). In the Pilgrims Office and on the boat to Dafni you will still have to use a face mask.

Update 7 – 22/02/2022: according to an article in Orthodox Times and the political commander of Mount Athos Athanasios Martinos, it is estimated that 30 to 35 Athos monks lost their lives due to the Covid virus. According to Martinos, “the holy monasteries of Mount Athos are safe for pilgrims with the exception of two or three monasteries. The anti-vaxxers are found mainly in the monasteries of Filotheou, Xiropotamou, Konstamonitou and the settlements around Karakallou. A similar situation prevails in the monasteries of Panteleimon, Chilandari, and Zografou, where monks from Russia, Serbia, and Bulgaria are settled”.

Information from Athosweblog: Monks in most of the Greek Athos monasteries have been vaccinated. What they demand from the pilgrims to go there varies from monastery to monastery. At some of them ask for the corona-App and the proof of an vaccination or test, just as the rest in Greece does in public places. But it is said that in Esfigmenou monastery things go – as useally – different: here monks refuse pilgrims to enter if you are vaccinated!

Update 6 – 26/01/2022: according to this source www.voria.gr/ six monks of the monastery of Filotheou have lost their lives from coronavirus complications, while almost the entire fraternity is unvaccinated. The monastery is in quarantine and it still has dozens of active cases of Corona. Today, the monk Petros, who had recently been seriously ill and was being treated at a hospital in Thessaloniki, passed away, while early in the morning a speedboat picked up another monk, who needed treatment at the hospital. Also today monk Alypios, 61 years old, from Nea Skiti is defeated by the coronavirus and a Serbian monk from the monastery of Chilandariou.

Update 5 – 19/01/2022: according to abbot Batholomew (18/1) from Esfigmenou -in Karyes- “Mount Athos counts many victims of the coronavirus in proportion to its population. Despide the fact 40 monks lost their lives from Covid-19, there are still Covid deniers on Athos [..]. With their rhetoric call on the faithfull not to be vaccinated they responsible for many deaths”. – soucre: Orthodox Times

Update 4 – 01/12/2021: The Government’s decision on the compulsory vaccine for over 60 years was accepted with mixed feelings on Mount Athos […]. Yesterday (30/11) in Karyes , in the Holy Temple of Protatos, the vigil of Agios Kosmas the First was performed, with draconian measures against the pandemic, as no high priest or a significant number of pilgrims participated in the festival, while the established festive table did not take place at the end. More than 25 monks have died from the coronavirus on Mount Athos to date. Since the beginning of the pandemic, about 10 monks have died in convents, half of them in the occupied Esfigmenou Monastery and four more in another monasteries. At least two monks are still in critical condition outside Mount Athos, while several were those, who were in serious danger, most notably the cases of Elder Anthimos of the Holy Monastery of Agios Pavlou and Elder Ephraim, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of VatopediThe fact that the last two Elders survived the pandemic is considered a miracle. It is worth noting that all the monks who died, as well as all those who were or are in danger, were or are not vaccinated (source: vimaorthodoxias.gr).

Update 3 – 16/11/2021: Abbot Bartholomew from the Esfigmenou monastery in Karyes said the following on the radio on November 12th: “We have issues with the fraudulent certificates that are trying to enter Mount Athos and they do not care if these people are positive or if they will transmit the virus. Many, mainly from Romania, have been found with fraudulent certificates or putting antiseptic on their noses and so that they test negative after the rapid test, which is a requirement before entering Mount Athos. That means they are more disciplined because they are from another country.” (source Orthodoxtimes.com).

Update 2 – 4/11/2021: Orthodoxtimes.com says on 3/11 that Mount Athos is plunged into an unprecedented health crisis. There are at least 50 COVID infections, with some raising the number to 70! In just one day last Saturday, 8 cases were recorded. Among the last victims of the coronavirus is the monk Dionysios from the cell of Kartsonai in the skete of Saint Anne. Monk Panteleimon from Saint Anne was intubated, while a few days ago Fr. Prodromos from Karyes and one of his subordinates had to be intubated. According to Mount Athos, the whole situation is aggravated by Romanian pilgrims who have been reaching Mount Athos in large numbers lately and have devised various ways to be able to pass the rapid tests they are forced to undergo upon entering the monastic state (source: orthodoxtimes.com).

Update 1 – 28/10/2021: An increase in coronavirus cases has been observed on Mount Athos in recent days and several monks are being treated in hospitals in northern Greece. Today the proposal to close Mount Athos and forbid the access of pilgrims will be on the table at the Holy Epistatia. The monasteries of Pantokratoros, Xenofontos, Vatopedi and the skiti of the Profitou Elias are already closed. In Vatopedi, there are even 12 cases of coronavirus among monks who are isolated.

At least three monks from monasteries and skitis are being treated in hospitals in Thessaloniki. One of them, a 50-year-old from Agia Anna, is intubated and his condition is characterized by doctors as particularly critical.
The coronavirus is spreading rapidly on Mount Athos due to the coenobitic lifestyle of the monks, who all eat together and live in shared accommodation. In many cases, they do not seek medical attention in a timely manner and refuse to be hospitalized. Due to the inaccessibility of the area and the distance between the monasteries, it is difficult to determine the exact number of cases.
Some monasteries are taking a hard line on the issue of health protocols, while others are taking no action. Pilgrims stated that they were not allowed to enter a monastery because they were wearing a mask. The monks told them that they could wear the masks “at the carnival of Patras, but not on Mount Athos”. In another monastery, they told the pilgrims that if they do not take off the mask, they would not receive tsipouro and sweets.
In the Athonite State there is great concern about the course of business and a possible travel ban, also in connection with the arrival of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeou on November 26-28.

credits: Makedonia 25/10/2021

On September 14th skai.gr already reported that 1000 monks had been infected by the corona virus and eight had died. Only 20% of the monks had been vaccinated. Note: this news has not been confirmed by others sources.

Wim Voogd, 19/01/2022

Posted in 02 Vatopedi, 07 Pantocratoros, 16 Xenofontos, news, Skiti Profitou Eliou | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2222 – new Athos documentary expected soon: Where are you, Adam? 

On Youtube you can see the official trailer of an Ukraine documentary (1h 20 min), made by director Alexander Zaporoshchenko and produced by Alexander Pliska. The project started in 2005 in Docheiariou monastery, with the blessing of the now deceased gérontas Grigórios and ended in 2019. The release of the film was planned for this summer in Eastern Europe, but because of COVID-19 the movie’s premiere is delayed until this authemn. When the premiere in the West will follow is uncertain, because until now they did not find any distributor who is interested (but the trailer is also in Dutch !). We will follow the developments.

Read more about the film here and here, IMDb rating.

Wim Voogd, 26/10 (thanks to Vasílis on Facebook)

Posted in 10 Docheiariou, art, films | Tagged , | 1 Comment

2221 – Palaiopyrgos: the tower of the lost monasteries of Xerokastrou and Calligrafou and more drone images

A photographer who wants to stay anonymous made some beautiful drone images of the northern part of Mt. Athos. Posts 2216, 2217 and 2219 covered the east coast, now we’ll take a closer look at the harbors and towers at the west coast. Here you can find the arsanas of Sografou monastery and only 600 meter further lies the arsanas of Konstamonitou monastery. First I’ll show you the pictures of arsanas Konstamonitou.

Arsanas Konstamonitou: drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, 5th of May 2021
Arsanas Konstamonitou: drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, 5th of May 2021
Behind arsanas Konstamonitou: the rocks with cave: drone flights in the northern part of Mt Athos, 5th of May 2021
The drone flew more to the north and shot this picture of the Palaiopyrgos tower, now derelict and in ruins, and arsanas Sografou in the background, 5th May 2021
Palaiopyrgos tower and arsanas Sografou in the background, 5th May 2021

The KEDAK paper The Towers of Mount Athos from 2002 says that in former times the Palaiopyrgos (the Old Arsenal Tower) and the actual Konstamonitou arsenal served the needs of two small monasteries, Xerokastrou and Calligrafou, both of them presently extinct. The old tower provided its defences and the arsenal its berthing facilities. Historical evidence shows that the Old Tower was build before the tower of Sografou monastery, constructed in 1475, 200 meters to the west, and the actual arsenal of Konstamonitou, 400 meters to the east, which was constructed in 1763. It was the further development of the latter that eventually led to the Old Arsenal Tower becoming derelict.

The Xerokastrou was located somewhere between Megali Jovanitsa and the arsenal of Sografou. The Calligrafou was located nearer to the other monasteries, to the east an close to the arsenal of Konstamonitou.

Palaiopyrgos (the Old Arsenal Tower) , 5th May 2021

On the left you can see the masonry ruins of the makeshift arsenal at the foot of the Old Tower.

Palaiopyrgos (the Old Arsenal Tower) , 5th May 2021
Palaiopyrgos (the Old Arsenal Tower) from above, 5th May 2021
A drawing from 1847 by the Russian monk Gennadios of the surroundings – from the KEDAK paper 2002
the Old Tower in 2013 – photo Wim Voogd
Arsanas Sografou, 5th May 2021
Arsanas Sografou, with the Old Tower and arsanas Konstamonitou in the background, 5th May 2021
Google Earth – West coast Athos

Could this be a remnant of the lost monastery Xerokastrou between Megali Jovanitsá and arsanas Sografou (see the red arrow)?

Wim Voogd, 18-09-2021

Posted in 09 Sografou, 20 Konstamonitou, arsanas, ruins | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2220 – todays (8-9) forest fire near Mikra Agia Anna under control and extinguished

Today’s reports from Athos monks who keep a Facebook account (father Athanasios Karouliotis and Efthymios Volonakis-Vouleftiriotis) and from Vima Orthodoxias (in Greek) tell about the fire that broke this morning, the 7th of September 2021, that started near the harbor in a remote and inaccessible ravine near Mikra Agia Anna. The monks and workers opened a fire zone so that the fire would not pass into the ravine, where there are many cells. After many efforts and with the help of the Fire Brigade, they managed to reduce the fire, despite the strong wind (beaufort 6/7). Airplane and helicopters also helped to extinguish to flames.

Photo: credits Vima Orthodoxias

Luckily the Holy Mountain was spared this year from serious forest fires, something you unfortunately can’t say about other parts of greece, where the fires have caused great damage and much human suffering, like on Evia.

Wim Voogd, 7/9 (thanks to Vasílis de Grote, who closely follows Facebook reports about Athos)

Posted in nature, Skiti Anna | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment