1934 – Div Rajkovic, photographer and a true friend of Mount Athos

Here, in one of the dormitories of Esfigmenou we met Div Rajkovic in May 2017, a very friendly man from Serbia also known as Lazar(us), his Athonian name. We had an interesting conservation about Esfigmenou and how friendly the monks where when he started talking about a Dutch blog about Athos which he liked very much. With proud feelings and gratefull for this recognition we told him that Bas and I (and my brother Wim) were the authors/webmasters of Athosweblog. This surely broke the ice.
Div Rajkovic told us that he travelled between the monasteries and sketes with a great interest in monastic and hermit life. On his Facebookpage he writes that he studied at the Karoulian Lifestyle School but his profession is photographer and he showed us some nice images that he made with his phone. I asked him to send me some examples of his photographic work which he did and which I hereby present:
Anonymous locations on the Holy Mountain which speak for themselves.
The islet of Vasiliou near the arsanas of Chilandariou.
Windmill of Profitou Eliou with Pantokratoros in the background.
The photographer clearly visited the dwellings of the hermits of Karoulia which are very difficult to reach, only by using chains to climb up and down. He even climbed to the famous hole in the rock at Karoulia. I will end this beautiful serie of photo’s with two sunsets over the Holy Mountain.

More photo’s on his Facebookpage. Thanks Div!

Herman Voogd


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1933 – video: a Dutch vlogger climbing Mount Athos

A Dutch hair stylist and vlogger from Rotterdam climbed to the top of the mountain last July. He made a funny ego-video of his hike, with the use of a drone!

Wim Voogd (thanks Vasílis)

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1932 – Workers at Mount Athos

Muleteer working in the streets of Nea Skiti, 2017Muleteer at Kavsokalivia transporting goods from the harbour to the settlement, 2013
Muleteer on the path between Lavra and Skete Anna near Stravros 2011

Workers at the main entrance at Simonas Petras monastery.Restoration workers from Georgia at Mylopotamos in 2013.Repairing the roof of Esfigmenou monastery in 2009.Workers at Dochiariou explaining that we were not allowed to take photo’s, in 2011.

Head of the wine production at Mylopotamos with a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine, 2009.

Volunteers helping with the grape harvest of 2009 at Iviron.

Kitchen staff

Workers for the wine production of Mylopotamos helping in the kitchen of father Epifanos, 2013.

In 2014/15 this man from the USA was temporarily helping in the kitchen of Dyonisiou but also told us amazing stories about his life and orthodoxy.

Transportation (motorized)

This bulldozer driver is trying to get his vehicle on the road again after he slipped of the track.  This was in the winter of 2014/15 near the maingate of Paulou monastery.
Unloading goods in the capital of Karyes in 2017.Transportation of wood at the harbour of Iviron in 2015.

Other jobs

An Albanian worker is drilling holes for planting olive trees at Marouda , 2017.
The baker of Karyes wrapping up the spinach pastry, the delicious spanakopita in 2017.These men are in some kind of meeting at the Dafni harbour cafe. It is a kind of office and they are clearly at work but I don’t know what there job is, 2014.customs at Dafni 2011Custom officer at the harbour of Dafni, 2011.

Herman Voogd

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1931 – In the Athonian desert, first day, part four

DSC_2714.b.web.As Boris predicted, there was a sign guiding us to Chilandariou. A bit later than expected. But still there was a sign. Here with pilgrim Jaap who is preparing his walking sticks.

Due to the devasting fire the landscape had changed, as we will see. And even the dirt road takes part of the erosion process. The road is washed out and only accessible by four-wheel-drive.DSC_2717.b.web.The clearance of the trees gives room for smaller plants and shrubberies to develop. Changes give new opportunities for new plants. The burnt wood leaves nutrition in the soil. An abundant amount of flowers appeared in large fields giving a picturesque view on the Holy Mountain. An inspiration for impressionists.DSC_2724.b.web.gifThese man-high thistles with their intense purple flowers contrast nicely with the clean white clouds and the green stalks.DSC_2728.b.web.The dirt road twists and turns to reach the highest point on a range of hills. Then it binds the one top of the hill with the next. And that continues for a long and winding time. It is hard to get lost here. All is very clear and open. There are practically no crossings.DSC_2730.b.web.The lack of trees gives wide open views on the surroundings. Here we are looking north and see the old wind mill of Chromitsa, known for its wine fields. The wind mill has changed its source of energy from wind into solar power. Behind it we see the profane beaches of the town Stratoni, with its much disputed gold mines in the hills above the town.

This part of Athos is almost without any human activity. There are no monasteries or sketes. No buildings what so ever. Only the dirt road. It is an impressive emptiness. Sydney Loch, who lived in the Byzantine tower in Ouranopolis used to walk here from his home town via Chromitsa, and Proto Nero, the first water, to Chilandariou, the first monastery.DSC_2732.b.web.We discovered an artificial lake, used as an water reservoir. It will take a while before this a full grown forest again, if it ever happens. The fire was extinguished on august the 12th in the year 2012. Most of the images of the aftermath of the fire have been taken from the ferry. But here, in the inland, walking through the vast hilly and barren lands, the immense impact of the fire grabbed me by the throat.DSC_2734.b.webA clear symbol of the fire. The fir tree blackened by the fire and bleached by the sun with mount Athos as a back drop. The fresh greenish vegetation represents the hope for the future.DSC_2740.b.web.Pilgrims Jacques and Jaap on their way. The evolution puts us back on four feet again with the aid of the walking sticks. We had planned to go to Chilandariou but is was fully booked. So we decided to take the risk and try our luck in Esfigmenou. We know about their reputation but they have been very kind to us before, so we hoped we could receive hospitality there. If not, we would try Chilandariou again. And if that would not work, we would sleep outside for a night. Under the clear sky.DSC_2742.b.web.Clear sky? Suddenly black clouds packed over our heads. We were still walking on a ridge and very exposed. No shelter for miles. No place to hide. A thunder made me quiver. We unpacked our rain gear. The disturbing weather moved away quickly to our relief. There were only a few thick drops of rain.DSC_2746.b.web.On the northern site of the ridge the road drops. The landscape here looks terraced like Indonesian flooded rice-fields. As if it had been used a long time ago.zygos kaart.detail.Because of the fire we couldn’t find any of the red trails, the monopati, that were indicated on our maps in this part of Athos, that is called Zygos. The fire destroyed them all. Probably forever, unless the Friends of Mount Athos find their way here and do reconstruct the old paths. Which is rather unlikely because the trails in this part of Athos go from nowhere to nowhere.

The scan is taken from the very detailed Peter Howarth’s map of Athos (2016). I added a green line as an indication where we walked. Needless to say that we didn’t meet a living soul there, in the Athonian desert.

Bas Kamps, 5/7/2017

Posted in trip 2017, walking, Zygou | 1 Comment

1930 – a new danger: the “Killer Tree Monk”

This is what Father Eusebios Christofi from Nea Skiti shared with us last Monday on Facebook: the Killer Tree Monk!The fig tree of Father Eusebiow is injected by the “Killer Tree Monk” with some kind of chemical, because the tree threathened to destroy his house!

Beware of the “Killer Tree Monk” in your own garden! LOL!

Wim, 5th July

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1929 – Kapsala: the ruined kellion of St. John Chrysostomos – the interior

wikiloc 4 Marouda - Kapsala 9,34 km pijlIn post 1922 I showed you the pictures from the exterior of this ruined Russian settlement, that is located near the Maroudá cell (green pin) -see the red arrow on the map above. Today we will take a closer look inside the kyriakon. DSCN4103 (Large)The door to the kyraikon, with stairs to the first floor, where the main church is situated.DSC01408 (Large)Not only the debris that covers the stairs makes it a dangerous place to be: you’ll have to be aware not step on a rotten floor or fall in a hole!DSC01404 (Large)

DSC01402 (Large)DSCN4115 (Large)The main church: the interior is typical for the Russian architecture on Athos: the walls are painted white, although I found a few paintings just beneath the dome:DSCN4116 (Large).JPGthe domeDSC01403 (2).JPGA Saint or disciple writing with pen and paper, with a cow next to him DSC01403 (3)Ioannis Chrysostomos(?), also with pen and paperDSC01403 (4)A Saint a large beard and in a white cloth, with a book in his hand (and wings behind him?)

This is what Bertinos comments about the paintings (thanks!):

The first painting is indeed of the Evangelist Luke (with a winged bull), the second one is the Evangelist John (with an eagle), and the third one either (likely) the Evangelist Mark (with a winged lion) or Matthew (with an angel), but the photograph is to unclear to figure that out.tDSCN7353 (Large)DSCN4120 (Large)On the floor I found many pieces of paper, almost lost forever because of their state of decayDSC01407 (Large)This piece of paper reveiled a picture. When I took a closer look I discovered a picture of the building I was standing in!image1 (3)The kellion of St. John Chrysostomos, seen almost from the same angle as the postcard below!postcard athos russian John ChrysostomosThe complete “leaflet” from 1907 with its Russian text:image1 (2)image3image2image4DSCN4118 (Large)The entrance to the church and the stairways in the background (with Efrem and Jizte). Above them a balcony, that I did not visit because of the danger of collapsing.DSCN4119 (Large)A door to a room next to the churchDSCN4108 (Large)A window in this room, that contained a special cubboard:DSCN4110 (Large)The ossuary!DSCN4106 (Large)More skulls in a nicheDSCN4107 (Large)With bones piled up in a cubboard.

Two windows in the side roomDSC01405 (Large)The green “European” jungle outside is trying to conquer the buildingtDSCN7354 (Large)DSCN4122 (Large)A wooden pilar and ceilingDSCN4123 (Large)The stairs to the second floor and the balcony: I did not try to go there!DSCN4124 (Large)Going down the ground floorDSC01400 (Large)DSC01401 (Large)The church seen through a hole, from the ground floorDSC01409 (Large)Me cautious leaving the building.DSC01399 (Large)After the visit to this ruin Efrem took us further on a exiting walk through the green jungle of Kapsala. Next time a few pictures of this hike!DSCN4144 (2)Wim Voogd, 1th of July (photo’s also by Tadeus and Jitze)

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1928 – Thebais: contact with fellow pilgrims on the boat

After we spent some time at Thibais our friendly host, Boris, showed us the way uphill to the road to Proto Nero and Chilandariou. Suddenly we saw the boat coming from Ouranoupolis. We knew that my brother and friends were on this ferry standing on the deck. We couldn’t recognize them. I decided to phone him and explained our position above Thibais.We jumped and waved to our friends on the boat explaining that were standing 30 meters high from the main chapel on the right but they did not see us. Much later, on this photograph, our position became clear to them.On this detail from the photo above you see us phoning and waving.We moved along as the boat sailed to the port of Dafni. We passed the ruined house.Then we reached the road the Chilandariou. Boris points in the right direction. Flowers were blooming everywhere. The large fire of 2012 had made space for new vegetation.

Herman Voogd
Photo taken in the boat by Jit Bakker.

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