2155 – two Athos icons from 1977, painted by monk Antonios

It is rather unusual to find original Athos icons, that are for sale on the internet. But almost a month ago I saw two offered on Catawiki, painted by monk Antonios. Most icons are made by anonymous painters, also on Athos, but these two were signed with the painters name.

And when I took a closer look, I found out that I already had an icon of monk Antonios, that I had bought from Rolf Bos in 2012. Mr. Bos is a Dutch journalist, who visited Athos in the early 70-ties and he made the discovery of the Panteleimonos photo studio, with its hundreds of glass plate negatives. I published about this in posts 861 and 862. And I published about the first icon of monk Antonios, from Agios Georgios and the Dragon, in post 1285.

Back to the newly bought icons: when I started bidding on Catawiki the prize went up very quickly and at last I had to give up. The prize became too expensive for me. Afterwards I felt sorry, because it is so seldom that you buy Athos icons. And what happened to my surprise? A few weeks later the same icons were offered again on Catawiki! And this time I was lucky, because there were almost no other bidders and I could buy the icons relatively cheap. (NB. The first bidder did not pay, that’s why they were for sale again).

The icons are from a artistic point of view not impressive. Monk Antonios who lived in skiti Agia Anna according to Rolf Bos, who ordered his icon directly from Antonios in 1976, is definitely a B-artist. But still I find them interesting, because they so typical Orthodox icons with its colors, images and its perspective (on the Markos icon).

Markos icon with its perspective

The seller of the icons told me that they were bought by his mother; she has two sons, named Marc (the seller) and Ralph, and that’s why she wanted to buy icons from the apostle Markos and the angel Raphael. She did not order the icons herself, but her neighbor did, mr. G.J. Korteling, from Bennebroek – Holland, who visited Athos in the 70-ties. I found out on the internet that mr. Korteling was a KLM pilot and that he was a councilor of the municipality of Bennebroek. I did not find any records of him visiting Athos.

detail from the Markos icon
detail from the Raphael icon

On the back of one of the icons I saw this date, which corresponds to the information I got from the seller.


Wim Voogd, 15-7

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2154 – Athos art from Greek painter Baloukos

Today I will receive three icon from Athos that I bought on Catawiki, two of them painted by father Antoniou from Skiti Agia Anna, from who I bought my first icon from Agios Georgios in 2012. To find some more information about this icon painter, I stumbled upon this site from Christos Baloukos.

Mr Baloukos painted very different scenes from the Holy Mountain, starting with this Van Gogh like oil panting of a dirt road on Athos, with its blue skies and unmistakable colors and scenery.

The courtyard of Xeropotamou (oil painting).

Monks in Karyes

The kirakion in Kavsokalivia.

The painter himself, mr Christos Baloukos (thanks to this site). I wonder if his paintings are for sale and what the prizes are….

Wim Voogd

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2153 – Plants, Rocks and Stones

South slope of Mount Athos

Some plants don’t need vertile soil, rocks will do perfectly. This a Geranium Purpureum or a Geranium Robertianum.


Rocks and stones are a good surface for some plants such as the Euphorbia in the Russian settlement of Thebais.


Even this tree, a cypress, found this wall to grow on.


The former Russian skite of Andreou has still many ruins where plants find their way.


A plant with leaves like sage (Salvia officinalis) on a wall of a ruin in Karyes.


This beautiful old monastery wall has many vegetation between the stones.

near Panteleimonos

This small fern (Asplenium) can be found in the humid environment of the old watermill next to Panteleimonos.


In front of the Sografou monastery, lies a small workers village covered with vegetation, mostly creepers. The wall in the background is from the road to the monastery.


Even this single branch fig (Ficus carica) has found a place.

Herman Voogd

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2152 – Wood engravings by Schmied and Goulden


These colour-printed wood-engraved plates are made by Francois – Louis Schmied (1873 – 1941) after paintings by Jean Goulden (1878 – 1946) a major in the Eastern Army Corps of France.

Silver, glass and enamel vase, 1926 by Goulden

When Goulden stayed on Mount Athos during the 1st World War,  he learned about the Byzantine art of enamel. He made several works with the enamel technique , such as this vase.

Chilandariou, detail

These two works belong to a first edition of 77, folio (415 x 304 mm) with a total of 45 plates, 19 views on Saloniki, 7 views of the Macedonian Valley, and 19 views of Mount Athos. The complete first edition is now for sale at Sotheby’s.

Herman Voogd

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2151 – Umberto Eco on Athos

In the year 1988 Umberto Eco (1932-2016), the famous Italian novelist, and professor in semiotics visited the Holy Mountain.

Umberto Eco in 1988

Here we see the author in front of Simonos Petras.

It is said that his famous novel “The Name of the Rose” was inspired by his trip to Athos. The mysterious atmosphere of that book reflects the atmosphere on the Holy Mountain. The mediaeval architecture, the monks in black robes, candlelit corridors, labyrinths, whispering monks, and secret books and knowledge to be found in age-old libraries. The detective is set in the 14th century.

I remember that I was quite impressed on our first pilgrimage to Athos in 2009 when we got the opportunity to visit the library of Mylopotamos. To get there you have to get into the mediaeval tower. Behind an otherwise closed door we were admitted to the secret room and admired the old books.

Here we are watching a Ptolemy copy at the library. We easily found mount Athos.

Writing monk

Eco’s novel was published in 1980, so eight years before his visit to Simonos Petras.

I started looking for an earlier visit. I found only one blog with the information that Eco had visited Vatopediou before writing “In the name of the Rose”. Eco saw in the library a copy of the famous “Geography” of Ptolemy, as we did many years later in Mylopotamos.

I hoped to find more information about that first visit to Vatopediou. Maybe one of our readers knows more?

Eco’s meeting with abbot Elissaios

In his 1988 travel Eco went first to Simonos Petras, then to Iviron on the other site of the peninsula and then back to Karyes. In the building of Simonos Petras in Karyes he met the abbot of Simonos Petras, Elissaios. They had a long discussion. Source.

Eco saw the Greek culture as the roots of the Western civilisation. He wrote an article about the antique period, published in may 2012.

Eco in front of Simonos Petras , 1988

Bas Kamps

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2150 – Athos reopens its borders for 60 pilgrims and allows hiking again

Yesterday the news arrived at this site that from now on the Pilgrim’s Office will issue a total of 60 diamoniterion’s a day to pilgrims and up to 20 visitors and pilgrims per day will be allowed to visit each monastery, 15 for each cenobitic skete. Additionally, travel between monasteries on Mount Athos is allowed again.

Each visitor must still confirm his stay with the monastery that will host him. From last Wednesday 1 of July the Greek borders are open again to 15 EU countries, that are considered save epidemiologically. Russian pilgrims are not allowed to enter Greece until now.

For older information about the lockdown Athos have look here.

The border of Athos in 1986.

On the site of orthoxianewsagency.gr I also read that the number of visitors to Athos increased the past years with 30% and numbers 250.000 to 270.000 visitors each year. The increased traffic is mainly caused by Bulgarian and Serbian pilgrims, who filled the gap left by the Russians.

Wim Voogd, 4-7-2020

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2149 – random photos in chronological order – no 4

I will start this post with four photographs from the first (?) Athos bus, a Mercedes Benz, that arrived on Athos during the millenium celebrations in 1963. This picture is at the arsanas of Iviron dates from this period.

On this color picture at Dafni harbor the same bus appears, with its light blue color.

Even in 1989 the same bus is still in use, as this picture from my own library shows.

Although this photo of unknown date might suspect that even an older bus was in use since 1963….. (in the harbor of Dafni)


nr 1 – Two monks resting at the portico of Dionysiou (near the famous apocalyptic scenes of John on the opposite wall).

nr 2 – The hermitage of Monk Gabriel near Prodromou / Cape Akratos.

nr 3 – Panteleimonos monastery, before the big fires in the guesthouse.


nr 1 – Skiti Andreou

nr 2 – Dionysiou monastery and arsanas

nr 3 – Esfigmenou monastery: at that time without the banner “Orthodoxy or Death” on the outside wall.

nr 4 – Grigoriou monastery: without the palm tree, that is so characteristic in the present days.

nr 5 – Iviron monastery

nr 6 – Karakallou monastery, with in the background the Timiou Stavrou kellion.

nr 7 – Lavra, with the three graves of the Patriarch on the left.

Lavra, december 1956: a Christmas card from the French embassy in Greece.

nr 8 – Simonospetras and a photo of mules near the monastery.

nr 9 – Sografou monastery

nr 10 – Vatopedi monastery

Exonarthex Vatopedi

Vatopedi clock tower

Vatopedi: Monk passing the door to the katholicon


Vatopedi: katholicon on the left


Esfigmenou: Monk with a pilgrim June 1959.

Wim Voogd, 19-06-2020

Posted in 01 Lavra, 02 Vatopedi, 03 Iviron, 05 Dionysiou, 09 Sografou, 11 Karakallou, 13 Simonos Petras, 17 Grigoriou, 19 Panteleimonos, Dafni, history, Skiti Andreou | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

2148 – random photos and articles in chronological order – no 3

1925 nr 1

In post 1418 we told the story of “Agathon the Fool”, here on a photo in Kavsokalivia. He was a simple layman who lived in abandoned monastic cells during the decades of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

1925 nr 2

These six drawings of Athonian buildings are from 1925: the first three images are from the trapezas of Esfigmenou, Lavra and Pantocratoros. The fourth image is from the bell tower of Vatopedi and the two last images are from monastery Docheiariou.

1926 nr 1

These pictures made in 1926 are from the French site Gallica, the national library of France, where many information about Athos can be found. This first photo is from Chilandariou.

nr 2 Another photograph od Chilandariou

nr 3 Esfigmenou monastery

nr 4 Dionysiou monastery

nr 5 Simonospetras – North facade

nr 6 Dionysiou monastery

nr 7 Xenofontos monastery wit Mount Athos in the background


nr 1 A street in Karyes, a photo by Walter Holz, during the occupation of Athos in the Second World War.

nr 2 and 3 Two photos of the entrance to a building, probably in Karyes.

nr 4 Karyes, with kitchen gardens and buildings in the background.

nr 5 and 6 The bell tower of Iviron


nr 1 Fishing boats near Kaliagra and Stavronikita. The house on the left now is in ruins.

nr 2 Fishermen pulling their nets on the beach

nr 3 and 4: scenes from every day life on Athos: fishermen on the beach pulling their nets.


A news item from October 1954: A Soviet Ambassador visits Mount Athos

(translated with Google from French to English:

Over the past month, mr. Sergieief, ambassador of the USSR in Athens, paid an unexpected visit to Mount Athos, knowing how to ask for the prior authorization of the Greek Government, no more than that of the congregation of Mount Athos.
Mr. Sergieief visited the Russian monastery of Saint Panteleimon and had a long talk with the Superior. During this conversation, the ambassador explained that not only does his government have anti-religious views but, on the contrary, he does his best to collaborate with religion, and that he will be ready to let the Russian monastery of Mont Athos exist by sending, just like at the time of Czars, material aid to the monks. The Superior replied that he did not need material aid and that the question of new monks sent from the USSR fell under the Patriarchate Constantinople.

Wim Voogd, 18-6

Posted in 01 Lavra, 02 Vatopedi, 04 Chilandariou, 05 Dionysiou, 10 Docheiariou, 13 Simonos Petras, 15 Stavronikita, 18 Esfigmenou, Karyes, Kavsokalivia, war | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

2147 – random photos and articles in chronological order – no 2

11. 1903

Photo by monk Gavriil from Panteleimonos, made on August 21, 1903, with a “revealing” image of the Mother of God (on the left). The photo was published in a Greek newspaper at that time. It still remains a mystery, with some monks claiming that they believe the unknown female on the left was the Virgin Mary herself. It was published for the first time in 1997. Read more about it here.

12. 1909

A photograph of Agiou Paulou monastery in the winter or early spring, with snow in the valley behind it. Clearly visible is the grit left behind by the streams during many years. Nowadays the water flow has been channeled and most of the sediment has disappeared.

13. 1914 -1918

During the first World War a French (and Russian) army came to Athos. This is probably why many pictures and publications are to be found about Athos. Most of the pictures were made by Millet and Martel, as we showed you here. This general Sarrail in Karyes.

14. 1917

nr 1: Excelsior magazine, published on February 22th 1917 about the army visiting Panteleimonos, consisting of 300 soldiers. They found 475 guns made in Austria, 441 bayonets and 103.000 cartridges (bullets?) in the monasteries.

1917 nr 2: A procession with the Portatissa icon from Iviron to the nearby aqueduct. The house in the foreground does not exist anymore, have a look at the photos I made on this spot in 2019. It looks as if they are renovating the aqueduct (it was built in the 17th century and was renovated in 1858). And what is the strange tower next to the house? It looks as if the water flow from the aqueduct is diverted to this tower. And do we see laundry/white sheets hanging to dry in the garden behind the house. Might the fresh water have been used in a laundry at that place?

1917 nr 3: the Portatissa icon in procession near Iviron

1917 nr 4: photographer Ali Sami Bey with a monk from Iviron. He started his career in the Ottoman army and later became the Imperial photographer for Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Following the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, supporters of the Sultan were purged and in 1909 the Sultan was exiled to Greece. Ali Sami arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1909 and published the newspaper Hak (Right),while in 1916 he published the French newspaper Le droit (The Law). He was nick-named Bahriyeli (sailor). Read more about him here.

Here is another picture made by Ali Sami Bey, made much later, in 1928: icon painters in Agia Anna

1917 nr 5: a publication about the occupation of Athos in the French magazine “Le pays de France”, with pictures of Agiou Paulou, skiti Prodromou, Xenofontos, Panteleimonos and Simonospetras. A Franco-Russe army embarked on January 16th 1917, to protect the 20 monasteries, where 5 to 6 thousand monks live.

1917 nr 6: another publication about the occupation of Athos by the “allies” in the French magazine “Le pays de France”, with the ships at the quay of Panteleimonos.

1917 nr 7, 8 and 9: a publication the New York Times, with pictures of Panteleimonos and Xenofontos. Below two photo’s of the courtyards of Chilandariou and Xenofontos. By coincidence these sheets are for sale at Ebay (for to much money).

15. 1920:

The courtyard and phiale of Esfigmenou in 1920.

16. 1924 nr 1:

Athos Monks in Athens: the proclamation Greek republic

1924 nr 2:

Two photographs from Chilandariou monastery. The first photograph is from the famous grapes of Simeon, that has been growing there for almost 100 years now (and maybe much longer!). I frequently get questions from readers how to obtain or buy these grapes, by couples who try to get some help to start a family. It is said that eating a raisin of this vine gives fertility. Unfortunately I have to disappoint them, I do not know where of how to get these raisins. But they are good protected, as you can see in this post from 2016.

The other image from 1924 is from the French magazine “L’Illustration”: in 2016 I bought this magazine and I showed it to you here.

Tomorrow I will start with photo’s from 1925.

Wim Voogd, 17-6

Posted in 03 Iviron, 04 Chilandariou, 13 Simonos Petras, 14 Paulou, 16 Xenofontos, 19 Panteleimonos, books, Karoulia, Karyes, Skiti Anna | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

2146 – random photos and articles in chronological order – no 1

As you probably know, I occasionally roam the internet looking for Athos photos or publications. Today I found some time to show you some of my findings, beginning with the oldest:

  1. 1668

This is a page from a Dutch book, written by Kircherius in 1668. Its shows the plan of the sculptor of Alexander the Great, Dinocrates, to transform Mount Athos into a huge statue of Alexander. The image of Alexander is quite funny. In the mid 17th century and in 1721 two other examples show uo, with a better looking Alexander carved in the rock.

Fisher von Erlach 1712
Pietro da Cortona – mid 17th century

2. 1861

An early photograph of Simonospetras monastery

3. 1867

Although only slightly related to Athos, I did not want to withhold this picture from Thessaloniki from you. Here you can still see the old city walls, that were built all the way to the shoreline.

4. 1869

From the book Childe Harold’s “Pilgrimage to Mount Athos, a romaunt” – etching. The mountain near Mylopotamos and Filotheou.

5. 1882

A photograph of the Panteleimonos complex, with the monastery in the background. Later this photograph was copied by others, who made a similar etching of the photo.

Etching of the photograph above, also from 1882.

6. 1887

Article “The Mountain of the Monks” from the magazine “The Art Journal”: an etching of Simonospetras, seen from the North.

in detail

7. 1890

From the magazine “Magazin Pittoresque”: Chilandariou monastery, article in french, 31 of January 1890.

8. 1895

Russian abbots from the Holy Mountain, and

two Russians from Athos. Unfortunately my understanding of Russian is zero, so I cannot translate.

update 17/6: our friend Vasilis translated the text for us (thanks!): on picture 1 is the abbot (hegoumeny) of Panteleimonos Gerasimos (1) and other monks (archimandrite) of Panteleimonos and Skiti Andreas (names). On picture 2, left, Alexander Ivanovitsj Sushkin (I don’t know him) and right abbot archimandrite Makarios from Panteleimonos.

9. 1900

Three D photographs of the Panteleimonos monastery made by Verascope Richard, Empire Ottoman, Macedoine.

Another three D photo of Panteleimonos

And also from 1900, to be exact 25th of February: an article in an Italian magazine “Domenica del Corriere”, with a photo of Grigoriou. By mistake the author thinks this is Agiou Paulou monastery.

10. 1901

A picture of Chilandariou monastery, seen from the North.

Wim Voogd, 17-06-2020

Posted in 04 Chilandariou, 13 Simonos Petras, 17 Grigoriou, 19 Panteleimonos, books, history, mountain | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments