1972 – the hike in Kapsala – 2

Let’s start with reveiling that the short afternoon walk ended up in a unforgetable 9,34 kilometers exercise, that would fit in any modern boot-camp experience. Efrem guided us through one of most beautiful places on Mount Athos, where nature is unspoiled and not used for commercial purposes (forestry), where the ‘original’ character of Athos still can be found. Only small huts and kelli are widely distributed over the landscape,  lush streams flow through the European rain forrest and the quietness is overwhelming.

But we were in a hurry, because Efrem wanted to be back before Vesper in Maroudá at 19 h. that evening. So after visiting the Rumenian Kelli Agiou Georgiou Faneromenou (thanks Gabriel), he resumed our high speed hike, safely guided by his Garmin divice.

But something went wrong. At the location G we lost our way and Efrem suggested to make a shortcut through the forest. We (one of our group that started from Maroudá wisely returned ‘home’ after reaching spot D) reluctantly agreed. This is what happened:

But we relied on the expertise of Efrem, and although he made me worried for a while, he proved to be a reliable guide and after 10 minutes he found a monopati, so we could resume our hike to Skiti Andreou and back to Maroudá again (short film: thanks  Tadeusz Minkiewics). Skiti Andreou was not far from the spot we got lost and it gave me the opportunity to shoot this picture form Andreou, seen from a different direction.

In the background you see the tower (?) and communication mast of Ag. Dimitrios. Nobody ever goes there, am I right? (detail is from the map of Peter Holworth, creator of the best Athos map). Left from skiti Andreou I saw this beautiful cell: Kelli Evaggelismou Theotokou, Immaculate Virgin, belonging to Simonopetra, worth a next visit to Athos!Kelli Evaggelismou Theotokou

We continued our hike:

Not far from the spot were we found the monopati again we saw this ruin of a cell. To our surprize it was inhabited by a former professor from Athens, who decided to devote his live to God and went to this place on the Holy Mountain. He did not wanted to be photographed, but he invited us in for a drink and he took some time to talk to us. Below some pictures of his house, that he tried to renovate.The outdoor kitchen, with a grindstone (for olive oil?).Pottery (for olive oil?)The cell of the “Athenian Professor”: he sleeps/lives in two rooms were the chimneys peak out of the windows. I hope he will be able to renovate this ruined house….Skiti Andreou closes in: trees with white blossems, that smell lovely, are everywhere in this area in spring.Just before arriving at Andreou we passed the kelli of Axion Estin. This is the kelli where the famous Protaton icon of Axion Estin is brought to in a procession every Easter.

Efrem wanted to be in time to join Vesper in Maroudá, so we sneaked past these buildings. (This was because most monks know him well, and when they see him, they want to have a conversation, and after walking more then 9 km’s, he wanted to back as soon as possible.)

Soon after the ruined house we saw even more (unknown) ruined buildings, and a small chapel next to it:The small chapel next to the ruins.Finally we arrived at skiti Andreou and the Athonasias-school. Children/novices were playing basketball in the schoolyard.

This ends the photo essay of a very special afternoon on Athos. Without the help and the friendly and professional assistance of Efrem, this would not have been possible. Many thanks goes to him!!

Wim Voogd, 29-12

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1971 – Some details of Koutloumousiou

The delightful overshadowed concrete path that connects Karyes with the monastery of Koutloumousiou. On the route the yearly procession with the most famous of icons, the Axión Estin, takes place. We tried to make contact with the people in this house, but the old man had urgent other things to do.On the pavement at the entrance of the Monastery the well-known symbol of Mount Athos and the Greek Orthodox church, the double-headed eagle, is sculpted. I have the impression that it is newly made and came with the renovation.Opposite the double-headed eagle is a little kiosk with a fountain, that delivers delicious cool fresh water. It is delivered through a bronze fishlike monster with enormous terrifying teeth that stretches out from the carved marble stone.The next object on the floor is an image cut out of the marble of an ancient boat, like a trireme. It might be a reference to the ancient city of Kleonia which probably was on the spot on which the monastery is right now.The lamp in the main gate with precise stucco.The 19th century font (phiale) with a heavenly blue ceiling in the inner courtyard of Koutloumousiou. The strange, foreign sounding, name of this monastery is said to be derived from a converted Turkish prince, the son of Azeddin II Kai-Kobad (1245-57), a man called Koutloumous. See this post for more on the phiale.Another nice fountain head in the courtyard. Its claws are carved in the copper.The back of the katholikon with its rhythm of windows in various sizes. Some are blocked, some are diminished or filled with well-placed bricks. I counted at least three layers of different red paint, the most used colour for katholikons. I wondered why red is the dominant colour. But I haven’t found the answer yet.

Bas Kamps

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1970 – the hike in Kapsala

Our aim on the first day of our pilgrimage in May 2017 was to sleep in the beautifull cell called Maroudá of father Makarios. After leaving the ferry at Panteleimonos and the hike to Paleo Monastiro we continued to walk to Maroudá, but the distance we had to walk was a setback. We did not want to arrive too late in the cell, because I made an appointment to meet a reader of this weblog, Efrem, who promised to be there. So we were very lucky that a car that passed stopped and the driver asked us we would like to have a lift. He was on his way to Vatopedi and would drive past Maroudá. Instead of a hike of maybe more then two our hours we arrived in 20 minutes!

Efrem was already waiting for us. He is member of  the FoMA footpaths team, who were working to keep the monopati and kalderimi of the Holy Mountain in that period. He asked us if we wanted to go for (short) hike in Kapsala. Ofcourse he answer was ‘yes’: I published the first results of this trip here (spot B: the ruined kellion of St. John Chrysostomos).

After this visit we continued our hike through the rough forrests of Kapsala. The area lies – roughlty – North of Skiti Andreou and West of Maroudá, and is hardly visited by pilgrims, because only small cells lie in this part van Athos and there are almost no dirt roads for cars. We started our hike a spot A.

The Kapsala areaSpot A: many signs point to different directionsOur guide that afternoon: Efrem standing under a tree that makes a natural entrance to Kapsala. The stone wall on the left is part of the St. Chrysostomos kelli – spot B.Rickety wooden bridges connect deep ravines: Efrem clearly sees our restraints to pass safely! (spot C).Clearly the FoMa team has some work to do here!Signs to cells of Prodromou, Ag. Georgios, Archelles and Ag. Stefanou Another creaky bridge at spot D.Here the paths splits to the cell of Prodromou.  Looking back to the South: the cell of St. Chrysostomos and skiti Andreou. Soon we arrive at kelli Agiou Georgiou Faneromenou (spot E). TDSCN7366 (Large)Unfortunately nobody was home: just washed clothes hung to dry (photo by Jitze Bakker) Kelli Agiou Georgiou Faneromenou, a view at the mountainDetail: an inscription in a wall of the kelli from 5 June 1891. Who can translate it?

Wim, 28-12-17 (next time more about the hike through the Kapsala forrests)

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1969 – The phiale of Koutloumousiou by Cuville in 1918

In 1918 the phiale on the courtyard of Koutloumousiou stood next to the entrance of the refectory (trapeza). On the right the entrance of the refectory with the semantron and the blue door. Autochrome by Fernand Cuville.
This recent photo is shot from another angle. The phiale is moved to the other side of the refectory, hardly visible behind the tree. In its place a new round chapel has been  build. The white plaster of the refectory is removed and the stone bricks are visible again.

Herman Voogd

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1968 – The miraculous vine of St. Simeon at Chilandariou by Cuville in 1918

This autochrome (1918) by Fernando Cuville shows a small part the Katholikon of Chilandariou on the left, the famous vine of St. Simeon is growing in the direction of the well. In the background the clock and the bell tower.  The vine is famous because the dried raisins have wonderous results because they help women with fertility problems.Although a huge fiere destroyed many parts of Chilandariou in 2004 this part of the monastery is not that much changed. The vine has properly grown, on this picture made in 2015 and the well looks pretty much the same. The clock has moved a window to the right.

Herman Voogd

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1967 – insects, reptiles, mammals and a bird


Beetles on flowers with Megisti Lavra in the background.
A bumble bee at Thibais.

A grasshopper at Nea Skiti and a butterfly at Lavra.
Flying ants at Karyes and a lizard with ants at Proto Nero.
A dog at Marouda and a cat at Dafni.A dead rat at Esfigmenou harbour.
A mule at Micra Sk. Anna.
Mules and muleteer on its way to Lavra.
Viper on the Way of the Bey lying on the footpath in the sun.
Turtle on The Way of the Bey.
Seagull passing Thibais.

Herman Voogd

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1966 – Ottoman maps of Agios Oros

 This old Ottoman map is on paper and part of a manuscript by Piri Reis on navigation. Very nice hand coloured map with the monasteries visible and the Island of Thasos on the right. Here is more information.  Piri Reis map ottoman detail athos.png

bay of Salonica and Chalkidiki Piri Reis.png
Ottoman map 1901 borderAthos on the Rumeli-i şahane haritası map from 1901/1902. Rumeli is the European part of the Ottoman Empire. The main route to Karyes start on this map in Ierissos and passes the Xerxes canal, watch the dashed line above Amouliani island (or is this dashed vertical line the former Athos border?)
The northern route to Karyes with probably a telegraph line. 
The telegraph line stops at Karyes. The long coastal path to Lavra, now gone unfortunately. Watch the complete Rumeli-i şahane haritası map here.

Thanks to Japetus

Herman Voogd

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