2234 – Xiropotamou monastery – part 1

In post 2204 I published the hike from Dafni to Xiropotamou. Today we take a look at the outside of the monastery and the surrounding area.

Plan of the monastery made by Mylonas in 1980
Drone footage of Xiropotamou 29-07-2020
The entrance: the South East wall of the monastery

First I walked with my camera to the South West wall:

The South West wall
according to this stone carved inscription build in 1837
Chimneys, cells and balconies South West wall
The kitchen gardens

On the left of the pictures above you see a low tower. At the time that Barski made his drawing of the monastery in 1725, this tower protruded slightly more from the wall and there was a second entrance to the monastery:

Xiropotamou by Barski 1725
Looking back from the monastery to Dafni
The North West wall
NW- wall right side
NW wall – the middle (with a lemon tree)
NW- wall left side
The road to Dafni and Karyes with a gatehouse and barrier: here the bus stops nearby

The North East wall consists of two parts and has a large kink:

First part: the right side in the North
Behind the olive trees: the second part of the North East wall
The second part of the NE wall, with a gate
The surrounding building at the NE wall, with a aqueduct
The aqueduct seen from the other side
surrounding buildings NE wall
More surrounding buildings at the SW wall, with the ossuary in the background (the white building right from the cypress trees)
The South West wall with benches and pottery
SW wall: the backdoor that leads to the guesthouse – archondariki
the path leading to the ossuary
The entrance / gate to the ossuary
Outside the monastery walls: the graveyard and the ossuary (Mylonas plan – 2000)
The graveyard of Xiropotamou
the ossuary
This place is not really neatly organized, to put it mildly.
An old rusted water mill near the ossuary

Wim Voogd

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2233 – the Future of Athos? Avaton water: a company sells the water from a spring of Simonospetras

The founder of this new enterprise, that will be run in the near future is by a Macedonian bottle company from Thessaloniki, Dimitris Babakos from Cyprus, was during a stay at Simonospetras monastery inspired “to craft and create a superior brand; he would care for this pure water and share it with the world”. In return, he would help the monastery fund and support its activities as well as other charitable causes. The new product was called AVATON (the “constitution” of Athos, where he prohibition on women entering Athos is defined).

The water comes from a artisian spring above the monastery and they build new facility above the monastery. Confined groundwater comes up “in a remote rocky outcrop, has been frozen in time after hundreds of years of isolation, protecting the purity of the land and its natural spring, keeping it fresh and unobstructed by the modern world. The best water is the purest, closest to nature, untouched by industrialisation or mankind.”

The new water facility, build in 2021

On the picture above you can see the large area that was cleared to make the new factory. In the pictures below inside the factory you see the large industrial scale.

The Avaton products: at the moment the production did not start yet

To be honest this new development raised some questions and concerns with me.

Do we really need this kind of large scale commercial enterprizes, who build large computer controlled industrial facilities, on the Holy Mountain? What is impact on the pristine nature (Athos belongs to “Natura 2000”!): were do they find the energy needed to run such a large complex? I do not hope they use large (diesel) generators, and what would be the effect on nature on the additional tranport of goods by trucks and boats?

And take a look at the area they needed, a large part of the mountain somewhere above the monstary is completely cleared to build the factory! What will happen to Athos if KEDAK will allow this at other places in the future? How is it possible – to begin with – that KEDAK even authorized such a project? Isn’t Athos a protected Unesco herritage, where these kind of of changes are not allowed? And finally, do we really need Athos water in a PET-bottle? What is impact on more plactic bottles on the environment? And shouldn’t the monastery just use their spring for themselve?

Allowing this type of companies on Athos could well be a very dangerous development, the question is whether this is desirable or necessary.

Wim Voogd, 20-2-2022

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2232 – Fire in the cell Agiou Vasiliou 30-01-2022

Fire in the cell of Ag. Vasiliou

Yesterday I was informed on Facebook that on Sunday evening 30th January 2022 a fire broke out in this cell that belongs to the Serbian Chilandariou monastery. Today I received an e-mail from Vladislav Golupski, who gave me a link to this source on the website hilandar.org (thanks Vladislav for sharing the following information and photos).

The bridge to Ag. Vasiliou and two of the cars from the firebrigade

A fire broke out today [30-01] at around 6.30 pm Greek time in the cell of Agiou Vasiliou (or the residence of St. Basil – Hrusija), which is located three kilometers north of Hilandar. Thanks to the quick reaction of the Greek firefighters with one vehicle, as well as the Hilandar monastic fire service with two firefighting vehicles, the fire was localized and extinguished until late in the evening. There were no casualties or injuries in the fire. The fire was caused by a wood stove.

The fire engulfed the cell, but firefighters prevented the roof and mezzanine wooden structure from burning, so the roof did not collapse on the boarding house, nor did the fire spread to the ground floor. The fire did not spread to the rest of the medieval fortress and its most valuable parts: the church of St. Basil, the tower and the remains of the palace from the 14th century. The residence where the fire broke out dates from 1868. The exact extent of the damage and material damage will be determined later. There were no objects with the character of cultural property in the burned cell.

The photo beow made with a drone shows the living quaters of this small cell.

Agiou Vasiliou cell 05-03-2021 – drone photo by monk T

About the Hermitage of St. Basil

The hermitage of St. Basil (also known as the Old Monastery, St. Basil on the Sea or Pirg Hrusija) is part of the rich Hilandar cultural and historical heritage on the Holy Mountain, which is located outside the walls of the Hilandar Monastery.

There used to be a smaller fortification at that place – a port that was significantly expanded and fortified by the Holy King Milutin in the 14th century at the request of Hilandar monks, in order to protect themselves from pirate attacks from the sea.

King Milutin built a strong fortification – a pyre (tower) with a church on top dedicated to the Ascension of Christ. Immediately after him, Stefan Dečanski built, or finished what he started, another church dedicated to St. Basil. According to tradition, a palace was built in the eastern corner of the fortress during the reign of Emperor Dušan.

The palace, as well as other rampart walls, were damaged and partially destroyed under the influence of earthquakes and the ravages of time.

In the last decade of the 20th century, a wooden supporting structure was made with the aim of preventing further collapse of the palace walls. A few years ago, as part of the renovation of Hilandar, the wooden supporting structure was removed due to wear and tear, and extensive work was carried out on the conservation and reconstruction of the rampart walls and the walls of the palace. At the church of St. Basil, works were performed with the aim of preventing the penetration of salt water caused by the wind.

The hermitage of St. Basil is an integral part of the long-term protection and preservation of the Serbian cultural and historical heritage on the Holy Mountain.

source: hilandar.org

For more photos have a look here during my visit to Agiou Vasiliou in 2014.

Wim Voogd, 1-2-2022 (thanks to Vladislav)

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2231 – progress of the new building in Karyes

Vasilis sent us these two recent pictures from the centre of Karyes, where the large new construction gets its final shape. The pictures are stills from a short video footage, made by Ruslan Pylipko today (26-1). Look at the snow that coverd the dome of the chapel, it has been cold in Greece the past days! (also read this post –2212).

Karyes, 26-1-2022
Karyes, 26-1-2022

Wim Voogd, 26-1 (thanks Vasílis)

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2230 – the Amafli tower: a unique drone footage

As a follow up of post 2228: here are two drone footages from 5-5-2021

Wim Voogd, 16-1-2022

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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