Trip To Mt Athos Jan 2005

Maps Athos Permit
Ouranoupoli is the beginning point of the Athos trip, where we caught the ferry to Daphne.
Ouranoupoli to Daphne
This gallery shows pictures of the ferry trip from Ouranoupoli to Daphne the first day of our adventure on Mt Athos
The Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou
The Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou , is an example of Athonite architecture, is more or less in the middle of the Athos peninsula in a conspicuous position, at 200 metres above sea level. Xeropotamou is one of the oldest Athonite monasteries, but its early history remains obscure as to its exact date of foundation and the identity of the founder. Oral tradition makes the founder of the Monastery the Empress Pulcheria, who lived in the 5th century, while another version regards the founders as the 10thcentury.

Emperors Constantine VI Porphyrogennetus and Romanus I Lecapenus. In the manuscripts and various documents there is some obscurity about the name of the Monastery and the personality of Blessed Paul, probably Xeropotamou's principal founder. Paul was in all likelihood an ascetic who was highly regarded on Athos, a contemporary of St Athanasius. Oral tradition identifies him as the son of Michael I Rhanghaves. The Monastery flourished until the 13th century, when in the years of Frankish rule, it suffered from financial difficulties and pirate raids. However, it soon obtained the assistance of Byzantine Emperors, particularly after the fire of 1280, and with donations and chrysobulls thae rights of ownership of the Monastery were confirmed (13th - 14th centuries). Other donations from the principalities of Wallachia and Hungro-Walachia were the means of renewal and prolonged prosperity in the life of Xeropotamou, and among its benefactors must be numbered the Sultan Selim I.

Like the other monasteries, Xeropotamou has had periods of decline. Two catastrophic fires in the early 16th and 17th centuries and the burden of debt in the 18th brought it to a low point. Between 1821 and 1830 the Monastery was occupied by Turkish troops, while in more modern times, in 1950 and 1973, it was again damaged by fires.

Today the Monastery of Xeropotamou occupies eighth place in the hierarchy of coenobia. In its ownership are the port of Dafni and its six surviving kellia. The Monastery has seven chapels inside its precinct and nine outside. The katholikon is dedicated to the Forty Holy Martyrs and was built in the 18th century on the site of an earlier church. Outside the katholikon is the holy water phiale, constructed in red marble in the last quarter of the 18th century at the expense of a learned monk of the Monastery, Kaisarios Dapontes. The library contains 409 manuscripts and some 6,000 printed books. Among the treasures of Xeropotamou are the paten of Pulcheria, made of steatite, relics of saints, goldembroidered vestments, and priceless episcopal staffs, but its greatest treasure consists of two pieces of the True Cross, the largest anywhere in the world, which have a hole made by one of the nails of the Crucifixion. At present the Monastery has about 25 benevolent and peace-loving monks.
Chytas, Athanasios. Pilgrimage to Mt Athos. 1 Dec 2000. CD-ROM. 01 Feb 2005 >
Karyes and St Andrew's Skete
Karyes is the administrative center of the monastic republic of Mount Athos as well as a center for supply and trade. It functions as the major transportation hub for the penisula. St Andrew's Skete is a former Russian skete abandoned at during the Bolshevik Revolution.  In dire need of repair the skete was reinhabited by monks from Philotheou Monastery some years ago and is being rebuilt. St Andew's Skete is the largest skete on Mt Athos.
The Holy Monasteries of Iveron and Karakallou Monastery
We decided to walk from Karyes to Karakallou Monastery. The trip turned out to be about 12 miles over rough roads with many switchbacks. We stopped at the Iveron Monastery on the way to venerate the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God.

The Holy Monastery of Karakallou stands on a hillside between the Monasteries of the Megiste Lavra and Iveron. Of the traditions concerned with its foundation, the most likely is that which makes its founder a monk of the name of Karakalas of the early 11th century. The fact that the Monastery is mentioned in a deed of the Protos Nicephorus (1018) and omitted from the Second Typikon is some indication of its troubled history.

In the 13th century, after raids of pirates and Latins, Karakallou was totally deserted. It was brought back to life by the action of the Palaeologue Emperors Andronicus II and John V and of the Patriarch of Constantinople Athanasius. The number of monks increased and the Monastery was restored. Nevertheless, it again became the victim of pirate raids. In the 16th century, with the assistance of the Prince of Wallachia John-Peter - who in the end became a monk of the Monastery - and the subsequent permission of Sultan Suleyman, the Monastery was rebuilt. In the 17th century the Monastery of St Nicholas in Ismailia was donated to Karakallou.

During the second building phase at the Monastery, older constructions were restored and additions were made, but the reconstruction of a large part of the buildings became necessary after a major fire in 1875. Karakallou took an active part in the struggles to throw off the Turkish yoke. Of its buildings, a particularly noteworth piece of work is the tower of Peter, which was built in the 16th century and is the largest of the towers on the Holy Mountain.

Karakallou occupies eleventh place among the monasteries of Athos, and has five chapels, two outlying chapels, and 18 kellia. Its katholikon is a building of the 16th century with additions in later centuries. It is dedicated to Sts Peter and Paul. The present refectory of the Monastery is a building of 1875, but its original form was much older. Included among the treasures of the Monastery are vestments and liturgical vessels, the skull of the Apostle Bartholomew and of St Christopher, and a fragment of the True Cross. The library contains 279 manuscripts and some 2,500 printed books. Today the Monastery has around 30 monks.
Chytas, Athanasios. Pilgrimage to Mt Athos. 1 Dec 2000. CD-ROM. 01 Feb 2005
The Holy Monastery of Philotheou
The Holy Monastery of Philotheou is located on a plateau on the north-eastern side of the peninsula, near the ancient Temple of Asclepius. It was founded by the Blessed Philotheus, a contemporary of St Athanasius the Athonite, around the end of the 10th century.

Among the Byzantine Emperors who made donations to the Monastery, the names of Nicephorus Botaneates in the 11th century, Andronicus II and Andronicus III and John V in the late 13th and in the 14th century stand out. Among Serbian princes, Stefan Dushan (1346) helped to provide the manpower for the Monastery. In the 14th century, St Theodosius, subsequently Metropolitan of Trebizond, and brother of St Dionysius, founder of the monastery of that name, was a monk in the Monastery.

During the early years of Turkish rule, in the early 16th century, the Abbot Dionysios, known as the Blessed Dionysios of Olympus, succeeded in turning it from an idiorrhythmic into a coenobitic monastery. However, the reaction of Bulgarian-speaking monks was such that he was forced to leave the Monastery. In about the mid 17th century, the Tsars of Russia gave permission to the monks to go there every seven years on alms missions. The policy of support for the monasteries was also followed by the Greek princes of the Danubian provinces. Grigorios Ghikas was one of the Monastery's best known benefactors.

In the 18th century the missionary of modern Greece St Cosmas the Aetolian was a monk at Philotheou. A fire which broke out in 1871 left unscathed the new katholikon, which had been built in 1746 on the foundations of an older church, but caused the Monastery economic problems, so that in 1900 the Holy Community took it under its guardianship. Of the other buildings of the Monastery, the holy water phiale is of fine white marble, and the refectory was extended in the 16th century. Philotheou has six chapels and three outlying chapels. Of its 12 kellia, half are now uninhabited. Philotheou prides itself on the possession of the miracle-working icon of Our Lady Glykophilousa, and of our Lady Gerontissa.

Among the objects kept in the sacristy, pride of place goes to the right hand of St John Chrysostom, a piece of the True Cross, other relics of saints, vestments, and sacred vessels. The library contains 250 manuscripts, two liturgical scrolls, and about 2,500 printed books The Monastery is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, and since 1574 it has occupied twelfth place among the Athonite monastic foundations. Since 1973 its has followed the coenobitic system. At present it has about 60 monks.
Chytas, Athanasios. Pilgrimage to Mt Athos. 1 Dec 2000. CD-ROM. 01 Feb 2005
The Holy Monastery of Vatopedi
The Holy Monastery of Vatopedi was founded around 972 - 985, probably by three rich nobles, Athanasius, Nicholas, and Antony, who came to live the monastic life on the Holy Mountain in the time of St Athanasius, the founder of the Megiste Lavra. In the Second Typikon (1045) it held second place among the monasteries, a position which it has retained to the present day. In the 12th and 13th centuries Sts Sabbas and Symeon, national leaders of the Serbian people, were monks of the Monastery. Among the many donations made to the Monastery in the 14th century by the Kral (Prince) of Serbia Stefan Dushan was the village of Ayios Mamas, and in the century which followed other Serbian princes continued the pious practice of making dedications and donations to the Monastery.

In the history of the Monastery there have also been difficult times, such as the raids and looting of Frankish pirates, Catalans (1307), and, later, Turkish tribes.

In the late 15th century Vatopedi had as a member of its community the Apostle to the Russians, St Maximus the Greek. In 1749, the famous Athonite Academy was set up at the Monastery. The katholikon is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, and was built in the 10th century. Its oldest wall-paintings (though painted over in the 18th and 19th centuries) go back to the 14th century.

The Monastery has 12 chapels inside its precinct and 19 outside, of which five are incorporated into the katholikon. The Monastery's bell-tower was built around 1427 and is the oldest to survive on the Mountain. There have been frequent alternations, of short duration, between the coenobitic and the idiorrhythmic systems from as early as the late 14th century, but in 1989, Vatopedi finally returned to the coenobitic way of life. Among the Monastery's treasures, in its safekeeping since the 14th century, the Sash of the Theotokos is particularly famous. It also has many elaborate vestments and sacred vessels, and a number of miracleworking icons of Our Lady, such as the Elaiovrytissa, the Ktetorissa, the Esphagmeni, and the Paramythia adorn the monastery. The library contains approximately 2,000 manuscripts, 25 scrolls, a large number of documents and printed books - in excess of 35,000. The dependencies of Vatopedi are 24 kellia the the historic Sketes of St Demetrius and of St Andrew (Serai) near Karyes. At present, the community consists of around 50 monks, many of whom are from Cyprus.
Chytas, Athanasios. Pilgrimage to Mt Athos. 1 Dec 2000. CD-ROM. 01 Feb 2005
The Holy Monastery of Gregoriou
The Holy Monastery of Gregoriou is on the seashore and can be reached by the ferry which brings visitors from Daphne, the port of the Athos peninsula. It was founded in the 14th century by the ascetic Gregorius, and is thus contemporary with the Monasteries of Dionysiou and Pantocrator. Little is known about the founder himself, other than that he was the disciple of the Blessed Gregorius of Sinai. The fires of 1500 and 1762, which destroyed the Monastery's archive, are undoubtedly in part to blame for this lack of information. However, even before the fires, the Monastery fell victim to the destructive mania of pirates. It recovered from the destruction of 1500 and was re-established with the help of Orthodox princes, among whom John Stephen the Great, Prince of Moldavia, played a leading role, and is for this reason regarded as a second founder of the Monastery.

Gregoriou succeeded in recovering from the disastrous results of the fire of 1762 through the efforts and qualities of leadership of Elder Ioakeim. He succeeded in collecting funds which made possible not only a new start for the Monastery, but also the redemption and freeing of captives. After his retirement, the Monastery adopted the idiorrhythmic system of monastic life. The resultant period of poverty through which the Monastery passed during the years of the Greek Revolution brought it to the point of seeking to become a dependency of the Monastery of the Megiste Lavra. We do not know the outcome of this request.

In 1840, it once again became a coenobium. In 1859 Symeon was appointed Abbot. During the 46 years for which he held office he paid off the debts of the Monastery, which amounted to 170,000 piastres, and gave support to the construction of new buildings. The new katholikon of Gregoriou was built in 1770 and its wall-painting was carried out in 1779. Its carved wooden sanctuary screen was also installed at that time. The second narthex was built in 1840 and the Chapel of St George in 1851. The katholikon is dedicated to St Nicholas.

The Monastery possesses some 279 manuscripts, of which 11 are on parchment, and it has approximately 6,000 printed books. Among the Monastery's treasures are a small part of the True Cross, relics of saints, sacred vessels and vestments. The Monastery also has the miracle-working icon of Our Lady 'Palaiologina'. Gregoriou has seven chapels and six outlying chapels, while its dependencies consist of three kathismata and six kellia. Since 1574 it has held the seventeenth place in the hierarchy of the Athonite foundations. The brotherhood today consists of about 70 monks, of a high standard of education.
Chytas, Athanasios. Pilgrimage to Mt Athos. 1 Dec 2000. CD-ROM. 01 Feb 2005
New Skete and St Anne's Skete
The day we left Athos we caught the ferry headed south prior to making its reurn to Ouranopoli. This allowed us to see the monasteries and sketes to the south from the water.
Meteora means "suspended in air" in ancient Greek. It is situated in the northwest corner of Thessaly above the wide bed of the Pinios River and north of the Eastern Pindus Mountains. Sculpted by wind and water over thousands of years the massive gray pinnacles rise above the surrounding landscape at the edge of the town of Kalampaka.

The first offical organized community was established in the mid 14th century by monks fleeing the pirate ravaged monasteries of Mt Athos. However hermits had been using caves and fissures of the giant pillars since the 9th century. Endowed by the Serbian Emperor, Symeon Uros , the Great Meteora was built. His son would later become a monk and the monastery prospered and others were built.

There have been several periods of decline starting in the early 15th century, later in the 19th during Ottoman rule, and during the German and Italian occupation of WWII. Now designated UNESCO International treasures the monasteries are protected and have undergone massive restoration.
The Great Meteora
The Great Meteora is the is the best known of the Monasteries and is built upon the highest rock. Founded by Athanasios the Meteorite, one of the most well-known figures in Orthodox monasticism, work was begun before 1382 and later completed by the Monk Joasaph. Because the Serbian Emporor Symeon Uros gave the monastry all his wealth and became a monk it became the richest and most powerful of all the monasteries and contains some of the most beautiful wall paintings and post Byzantine Mural art that can be found in Greece as well The katholikon has a twelve sided dome 24 meters in height with a striking series of frescos by Theophanis which depect the persecution of Christians by the Romans.
St Stephen's Monastery (women's monastery)
St Stephen's Monastery is the only convent in Meteora
Thessaloníki Misc Churches and More

Thessaloníki is the second-largest city of Greece and is the principal city and the capital of the Greek region of Macedonia. It has a population of around 1,000,000, and lies in a bay of the Thermaic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. Historically Thessaloníki has been a major route and center of trade for centuries. It is a major port and industrial city. This section houses a few photos from around the city.

We visited many churches in Thessaloniki. Everywhere you turn there seems to be a church. It is not unusual to see a small church surrounded busy stores and shops. Churches are almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks stores are here! We saw so many churches that I lost rack of names so this section is for images I can't cateorize.

Agia Sophia
Built in the 8th century. It is a monumental and impressive church and resembles the church of Saint Sophia in Constantinople. Dedicated to the Wisdom of God it is a basilica with a dome type of church. It was converted to a mosque in 1523
Agia Osios David
Small 5th Century Church in the old city above the downtown. Converted to a mosque by the Turks in 15th century the unique mosaic over the altar was preserved by the Christians by covering it with leather and then plastering over it. It is now the only remaining bit of art from from the original church.
Agia Nikolaos (St. Nicholas) Orphanos
Built in the early 14th century A.D this church was one of the few to not be converted to a mosque. It has a timber roof with no exterior dome but has a U shaped dome on the interior. The wall frescoes are first rate.
 Agia Demitrios
Saint Demetrius, the Patron Saint of the city, was a general of the Roman army and being a Christian, he was martyred during the persecutions of Diocletian and Gallerius in 303 AD. In 323 a small church was built on the site dedicated to the saint. One century later a larger church was built there. Unfortunately this church was destroyed by fire, but the Christians soon rebuilt it. During the great fire of 1917, the church was virtually destroyed. That was the time when the underground crypt was discovered, where the Saint had been jailed and martyred in the Roman baths.
Monastery of St John the Theologian ( women's monastery)
Outside of Thessaloniki and a short ride from Fr Peter's home this women's monastery is only about 20 years old and has 80 nuns. The grave of Elder Paisios of Mt Athos is there.
Georgia The Tailor
Georgia the tailor is making server vestments for me. As few scenes form the process. She is a real ball of fire!
A Few Group Shots along The Way
Trip to the Market in Thessaloniki
Fr Peter and Presbytera Kirki and family
Our hosts Fr Peter and Presbytera Kirki were wonderful to us.   We had our own floor in their three story townhouse. Presbytera's mother cooked number of meals for us.