2061 – Xenofontos, a photo survey within the monastery, part 2

In post 2057 I showed the first courtyard of Xenofontos monastery (the red A on the map below).

Today we will take a closer look at courtyard B, that lies between the old and new katholicon (A and Aα).

Plan of Xenofontos monastery
This is photo is shot at spot B3/A, with the old katholicon on the right and the East wing with cells in the background (building H). From here to the left the protecting wall E1 starts.
Turning the camera to the left (North), the wall continues uphill. Building N in the middle is (or used to be) the chandlery. Right from this building there is another gate.
Building N, the chandlery, and wall E1. The gate leads to the Eastern part of the monastery. Inside this gate are the mill stones and the old instruments to press and make olive oil (Rankin & Demas Smyrna).
Building N and the new katholicon (Aα)
Turning the camera 180 degrees: the old katholicon. The next picture shows us the white building you see here on the right (B3).
Building B3, the Synodical offices and the fountain B1.
Detail of building B3: beautiful brickwork and a relief/sculpture with a rams head above the entrance
A stone above the entrance door with a greek text: was this building erected 17th of March 2001?
The fountain with the double headed eagle of Byzantium and a mosaic with three deer drinking under a orange tree
The open cistern (B7) and building Γ1 – the old kitchen (now in the first courtyard A building Γ)
The open cistern and the old katholicon in the background
Next to the open cistern two stairs go down. In the background the gate Eastern in the wall.
The broader stairs on the right lead us to this wall painting and to remnants of old clay pots
The wall painting: a crowned Panaghia with the Child Jesus in a garden, surrounded by Light, Angels and buildings and a church in the top
The narrow stairs on the left leads down to……
this lower situated corridor, with numerous old oil vessels or pots
In the middle of the corridor, under a tower: more old vessels
At the end of the underground corridor, a stone stairs goes up
Looking upwards to the balconies
The tower-like building above the underground corridor, with two chapels inside: ϒ, upper level, the Dormation of the Mother of God and δ, lower level, Ioannis Theologos.
The building with the two chapels ϒ and δ.
This part of the monastery is being restored with the help of ESPA/the EU in 2014-2020 for € 9.412.260,00.
A relief with text from 1809 in the wall, difficult to translate “[…] Agiou Ioannou Theologos 1809”, the chapel on the lower level

Wim Voogd, 6/7/19

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2060 – Ferdinand Bauer, a botanical draftsman

Frontispice with Sk. Anna by Bauer

Ferdinand Bauer, a German draftsman, was hired by John Sibthorpe for an expedition to Greece to collect organic specimens that later resulted in the publication of the famous botanical work Flora Graeca Sibthorpiana.

From Imrie’s publicationthe catalogue of specimen 1817

Another member of the scientific party was Ninian Imrie, a Scotish mineralogist who took several geological specimen f.i. a piece of general rock from the highest point of the summit. Imrie stated that Athos was “beautiful beyond description”. Both Bauer and Imrie depicted Skiti Anna in 1787.

Sk. Anna

The main building of Sk. Anna which is seen on the works of Bauer and Imrie.

Drawing SK. Anna by Bauer

The original drawing by Ferdinand Bauer of Sk. Anna which is a little bit different from the image in the book.

Skiti Anna

This is how the situation is today; Skiti Anna on the west slope of Mount Athos.

Iviron by Bauer

The expedition on Athos lasted 4 days. They went from Dafni to Xeropotamou to Karyes and to Iviron. They got mules from the Iviron monastery and walked in 6 hours to Lavra. From Lavra they climbed the top and ended the journey in Sk. Anna.

the west coast by Bauer

Bauer made a few landscape drawings such as this one from the westcoast but he was hired to draw plants.

Senecio Othonnae

An example of a plant drawing by Bauer.

Herman Voogd

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2059 – A lovely watercolour of Stavronikita

This very nice drawing by English painter Edward Lear (1812-1888) was sold yesterday at Christie’s London for EUR 25.000. It is a study made with pencil and watercolour paint for a later painting. On the paper some text is visible, such as the names of colours and the word Arbutus or Strawberry tree . The words are instructions for himself when making a painting of this sketch.

On more or less the same location Lear made this painting but without the monastery. In my opinion the watercolours are much more interesting then the paintings Lear made.

Look at the fine lines and the soft colours and the texts in the upper corner. Lear made this watercolour on the 2nd of September 1856 standing on the coastal path to Pantocratoros.

In 2015 we had this view on the smallest monastery of the peninsula.

In 2019, low-hanging clouds clung on the mountains, but Stavronikita was clearly in sight. The photograph is taken just outside Pantocratoros.

Herman Voogd (thanks to Gerry Brisch)

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2058 – The glory of Agiou Andreou


The enormous skiti Agiou Andreou, with its many domes, emerged from the mist. Though merely a skiti, and belonging to Vatopedi (after the Russian period ended), it is much larger than many other monasteries on the Holy Mountain.

Inside the courtyard one can see a large building with four floors. It is in complete ruins. Pilgrims Herman and Barry wander around in the desolate scenery.

ruins Andreou

The same ruins from a different angle. Other buildings, as the red chapel, have already been restored. It is not clear what the fate of this building will be; will it be left to the elements or might it be restored? Let’s hope so.


Near one of the entrances of the guesthouse I found some flowering lilacs over a wheelbarrow.


The impressive katholicon to the left. The entrance to the trapeza is nowadays under the church.  


After entering through the central gate a square opens. To the right you will find a collection of big bells. To the left – behind some bushes – you can see a fountain that is not working. Black and white stones surround the fountain. The year of erection, 1841, is written with white stones. In those years is was a Russian skiti.

rain is coming

We left the skiti to go to Stavronikíta. We decided not to take the easy route via Ag. Nikólaos Bourazeri but instead to take the complicated route north of Andreou. In the meanwhile the weather changed. The mist concentrated to thick low clouds that reached to the surface of the earth. And it got wetter.

Read more about skiti Andreou here.  And here about the red chapel. For more historical information read this. About the Russian period see here and there.

Bas Kamps

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2057 – Xenofontos, a photo survey within the monastery, part 1

Let’s take a closer look within the monastery, starting at the entrance (Δ1 on the Mylonas map above). You will arrive in the first courtyard (A).

The entrance, seen from the first courtyard (photo is shot near spot M4)
The guesthouse

After passing the entrance you will find the archondariki or guesthouse on your right hand. In former days the guesthouse was situated in building Z2, K and K1, but it has been replaced to this part of the monastery, building H. The stairs and plants were added later and not drawn on the Mylonas-plan from 2000. The building was previous used by monks, who had their cells here.

These pictures are from the waiting room, where coffee, tsipourou (?) and loukoumi is served. Tow fine icons of Ag. Georgios and Dimitrios hang on the wall. In left a corner you will a small chapel behind closed doors.

View from the balcony of the waiting room
the balcony, later that evening
The guesthouse: a picture of a monk-beekeeper in the hallway
View from the guesthouse on the first courtyard and the old church: the kitchens are the building on the left.
Courtyard A: a fountain, a bell and the old church – katholicon
A wing of cells
The old katholicon – on the right the passage to the second courtyard (B) and on the left the corridor that leads to the trapeza and exo-narthex with its murals
The wall of the church: original brickwork and part of a mural
Courtyard A: an old iscription bricked-in in a wall
First part of the portico: Saints. Angels and the Panaghia with Child. The door leads to the church.
Left from the door: mural with nine Saints: in the middle Dimitrios and Georgios
the scenes with Ag. gerasimos and the lion and his donkey

These images above the door shows us rarely seen scenes from Ag. Gerasimos (or St. Hieromymus), who lived from 347 to 30th September 420, one of the four great church Fathers.

This is the story depicted on the walls: Gerasimos helped a lion to remove thorns from its paw and after this, to his surprize, the lion became his devoted pet. The lion was given the special task of guarding the communities donkey, which grazed along the Jordan. One day, it happened that, while the lion was napping, the donkey strayed and was stolen by a passing trader. After searching, without success, the lion returned to the monastery, it head hanging low. The brothers concluded that the lion had been overcome and had eaten the donkey and as punishment, gave the lion the job of the donkey; to carry water each from the river to the monastery in a saddle pack with four earthen jars. Months later, it happened that the trader was passing through the Jordan with the stolen donkey and three camels. The lion recognised the donkey and roared so loudly that the trader ran away. Taking its rope in his jaws, the lion led the donkey back to the monastery with the camels following behind. The monks realised that they had misjudged the lion; this is how the lion earned his name “Jordanes” from the Elder Gerasimos.

A detail of the (badly damaged) scene on the left: the traders who stole the camels, the lion and, in the right corner, the donkey

The next room or exo-narthex, that gives access to both the old church and the trapeza. The scenes resemble the ones in Dionysiou: all are from the book of John and show us the cyclus of the Apocalypse. For an extensive description of the scenes read these posts, starting at nr. 1100.

The wooden ceiling
The door to the trapeza
The trapeza during dinner on 18-09-2018: a bulgarian photographer was allowed to make pictures during the meal, we were also present (thanks http://www.afon-balkani.org)
The stairs that lead to the trapeza
A detail of the mural on the wall left: some say the image of the sun with smoke is a prediction of the “atomic” bomb. Read more in post 1126.
More scenes from chapter 8 of the Apocalypse of St. John
I turned my camera to the right and made a photo of the lower section of the next wall: also scenes from the  Apocalypse of St. John
the higher section of this wall
The door that leads to courtyard B.
Right to this door: a very different scene, the Crucifiction of Jesus In Golgotha (badly damaged)
The door to the old church
The scenes left from the door: The top scene is from John 16:13: And I saw from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs.  
Below is also from chapter 13 of St. Johns Apocalypse: “of the beast with seven heads and of a second beast”. He says in verse 2: “And the beast which I saw was like to a leopard: and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion” (more info here 1103).
Scene right from the door: the church is presented to an emperor (and his wife) ?
On the right: an angel fighting a demon or devil. On the left a city is painted with a stranger being in the air: read more about these scenes here: 1100
three Saints

Wim Voogd, 27-06 (next time more photos from courtyard B)

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2056 – Uptown Karyes

After our quick visit to Koutloumousiou we walked back to Karyes. It was still drowned in the mysterious mist we experienced earlier that morning. At the bakery shop we walked up hill. The idea was to stroll to Andreou via an alternative, higher route. So we could watch the only town on the Holy Mountain from above; uptown Karyes.

The bell tower on the left, the Protaton on the right

An unusual perspective on the Protaton and its bell tower from the back. The fresh green grape leaves and the red roof tiles give some colour to the picture. Imagine that once, in the thirteenth century, this place was ‘visited’ by crusaders. They tortured and hanged the Protos. They sacked the Protaton and murdered monks.

Ruins in Karyes

The outskirts of Karyes hosts some deserted buildings and churches. There are konaki’s, representation houses of the 20 monasteries. The fog accentuates the spookiness. The hill in the background is almost dissolved in water. In front of the hill another ruin. Peter Howorths excellent 2016 map marks 65 buildings in Karyes but I noticed he left some structures unmarked. The hospital for instance is not on the map.

Agias Triados

This enormous four story building, Agias Triados, is left to the elements. The edge is peeled off and shows the interior as an open wound. In this light the fencing with its circular forms at the top of building is remarkable. A dwelling in front almost disappears behind the invasive shrubberies. The green copper dome of church still dominates the scene. See Hermans post about Agias Triados.

Agias Triados

The same building from a bit higher up the hill. According to Wikipedia the 2011 census reported 163 inhabitants in Karyes. Walking this route we met none of them.

Two domes

Two domes. One of them probably Ag. Ignatiou.

Ruined house

Two more pictures of this desolated part of Karyes. We walked on to our next goal, the impressive domed skiti Andreou.

Read more about the quick visit to Koutloumousiou and about the mysterious mist in Karyes.

Bas Kamps

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2055 – Xenofontos, photos of the surroundings and the outside of the monastery

Today I will show pictures of the outside of Xenofontos monastery. The plan below is drawn in 1980 by Mylonas.

The plan of Xenofontos 2000

As you can see on the aerial below, which I took in 2017, the layout of monastery has undergone some changes. Two new large buildings appear next to Northern wall, at the place where the yellow crane is today.

Photo Wim Voogd 2017

On the internet I found this aerial photo of unknown date, where you see a construction site and the first contours of a new building (on the right). This new construction also explains why the ugly yellow crane was put in the corner.

Two old pictures from my photo library: the first one is from 1986, everything is still in its original state. The second is from 2007: the new buildings are almost ready and the yellow crane showed up.

Plan from the Feigl book 1980: another example of an old plan. Only two small buildings and chapel are situated at the Northern wall (U, T and S) at the spot where nowadays new large buildings stand.
Barsky 1744

A long time ago, in 1744, the monastery looked quite different then it is now: at that time the Northern and Eastern external walls were integrated in the buildings. These buildings probably burnt down in the meanwhile and were replaced by walls.

Notice a funny detail in the sea in the Barsky drawing: a fisherman catches a large octopus!

Here are the spots where I took my photos, roughly divided into six sections:

  1. the Northern wall and buildings (E1 on the Mylonas plan above), at the backside of the monastery
  2. the Eastern wall, (E1, Φ1 and H),
  3. and 6. surrounding buildings
  4. the entrance and boat house (South wall)
  5. the kitchen gardens and ossuary (Western wall)

As I described in post 2054 we took a wrong turn on the path coming from Docheiariou and we ended up behind the monastery, at the – not very interesting -long wall at E1. The view is furthermore spoilt by the ugly yellow crane, that has been standing at the corner for a while now. Why are these iron monsters not demolished after use?

Photo1.1 the wall at E1 and the yellow crane
Photo 1.2 the Northern wall, in the top end right corner you can see a dome of a chapel of a new building.
Photo 1.3: the Northern wall with the dome of a chapel, the yellow crane and white chimneys

Xenofontos is one of the few monasteries where some parts of the defence structure consist of separate walls, which are part of the fortified complex. Other examples of these walls you can find in Iviron(South wall) and Agiou Pavlou (Eastern wall). In all other 17 monasteries (and most larger skites) the outer walls are integrated by buildings that are used by the monks, which serve a double purpose (living and defence).

Photo 2.1 the Eastern wall: E1 is the separate wall, that leads all the way to building H, the wing with cells. The lower building outside the defence wall (with grey tiles), behind corner building with the red tiles, is the olive oil press (Φ1).

According to this postcard the situation in 1911: mostly walls instead of buildings.

Photo 2.2: walking along the Eastern wall and buildings: the oil press (Φ1).
Photo 2.3: The Eastern wall/buildings (H – cells of monks), seen from another direction
Photo 2.4: the last part of the Eastern wall, near the sea (building H, cells)
Photo 3.1 workers buildings

Towards the Northeast you will find a number of buildings for workers, where they park their cars and where they store the firewood:

Photo 3.5: a fire oven to burn waste, still in use
Photo 4.1: also building H, South wall, with monks cells, with inside chapel k (The Presentation of the Virgin).
Photo 4.2: the boat house. The large balcony above it is from the archondariki, the guesthouse. Nearby the rooms of the guests are situated.
Photo 4.3: inside the boat house

Just around the corner of this boathouse you can find the entrance to the monastery. At the time we were there workmen were working on the pavement and they didn’t like to be photographed by us. So I’ll have to skip a recent picture of Δ1, the main gate. I found one old picture from 2007, but it only shows the top of the entrance.

Left: the entrance to the monastery, 2007

At spot 6 there are four surrounding buildings: their mainly purpose is housing for temporary workers.

Photo 6.1: surrounding buildings. This bridge leads form the boat house workers houses
6.2 the white building is old, the one along sea shore is very new, its construction did finish in 2017.
6.3: the new building for workers along the shore

(see here for the situation in 2017).

6.4: a monk and worker on the pier
6.5: pilgrim Jitze on the pier with the quay wall and a smaller building in the background
Photo 2007: Xenofontos seen from the sea (spot 5) Western en Southern wall

Below: the vegetable gardens lie between spot 4 (boathouse) and 5. This is also a photo of the entrance (Δ1).

Photo 5.1: taken from a balcony, the vegetable gardens and main entrance

And finally we arrive at spot 5, the ossuary and graveyard.

Photo 5.2: the Western wall
Photo 5.3: The chapel belonging to the ossuary
Photo 5.4: the interior of the chapel
Photo 5.5: unsharp, but a photo of the ossuary

Photo 5.6.- 5.8: the cemetery of Xenofontos

Photo 5.9: a balcony near the cemetery
Photo 5.10: the Western wall seen from another direction, with an orange tree
Photo 5.11: a green house near the Western wall
Photo 5.12: the Western wall with balconies
Photo 5.13: the corner of the Western and Southern wall
Photo 5.14: a small entrance door in the wall
Photo 5.15: the iron-reinforced door leading to the tower (A1 on the Mylonas plan) and building M
Photo 5.16: inside the monastery courtyard, the small entrance in the Western wall

Wim Voogd, 17 june 2019

(next time more photos within the monastery)

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