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Mount Athos visit of the Consular Corps 11th - 12th - 13th October 2013

Mount Athos 2013On the initiative of the CCG, having as one of its main objectives to present interesting places of Greece to its members and under the successful organization and guidance of member of the Board Mr. Loucas A. Ellinas, Honorary Consul of the Seychelles, members of the Corps realized a three day visit to Mount Athos. The places they visited were:

  • Ouranoupolis is an ancient city and a modern town situated on the coastline in the northwest part (the very beginning) of the Athos peninsula, part of the bigger Chalkidiki peninsula. It is the last settlement before the border with the monks republic of Mount Athos (the Holy Mountain).
  • Dochiariou Monastery was founded in the 10th century and is dedicated to the memory of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The monastery also houses the icon of the Virgin "Gorgoypikoos" or "She who is Quick to Hear." The monastery ranks tenth in the hierarchy of the Athonite monasteries. Today Docheiariou has 30 working monks.
  • St. Panteleimon (Pantaleon's) Monastery is a Russian Orthodox monastery built on the southwest side of the peninsula of Mt. Athos in Greece. It is the largest of the many monasteries on the peninsula, in terms of physical size, though not in population.
  • Dafne is a small settlement on Mount Athos. It is used mainly as a port and an entry point to Athos with daily ferries from the town of Ouranoupolis.Mount Athos 2013 2
  • The Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopedi was built during the second half of the 10th century by three monks. From then onwards, several buildings have been constructed, most of them were built during the Byzantine period and during the 18th and 19th centuries when the monastery reached its highest peak. About 100 monks live in the monastery today, many of whom are from Cyprus. The Monastery of Vatopedi holds the Cincture of the Theotokos, a belt held by many believers to be the actual belt of the Virgin Mary, which she wore on earth and gave to Thomas the Apostle after her death and during her transition to heaven.
  • Karyes is the capital of Mount Athos. It is the seat of the clerical and secular administration of the Athonite monastic state. The 2001 Greek census reported a population of 233 inhabitants. It is the largest settlement in Mount Athos. The major church at Karyes is the Protaton, which is the church of the ‘Protos’ (president of the monastic community) and is where the miracle-working icon of ‘Axion Estin’ is kept.
  • Pantokratoros Monastery stands on the north-eastern side of the Athos peninsula and is dedicated to the Transfiguration of Our Lord. The monastery ranks seventh in the hierarchy of the Athonite monasteries.
  • The Skete* of Prophet Elijah is a Ukrainian/Moldovan built skete currently inhabited by 12 Greek monks from the Monastery of Pantokrator.
  • The Monastery of Stavronikita is located on the eastern shore of the peninsula, at an altitude of 50m above sea level. It is the last of the monasteries built on Mount Athos and has the shape of a fortress. It occupies the fifteenth rank in the hierarchical order of the twenty Athonite monasteries. It is inhabited by 12 monks and is coenobitic (communal).
  • The Holy Monastery of Iviron ranks third in the hierarchy of the Athonite monasteries. It was built by Georgians between 980-983 AD and housed Georgian clergy and priests. The name Iviron originated from the ancient Georgian Kingdom of Iberia (Iveria) where the master architect of the monastery was from. Iviron has the relics of more canonized saints than any other on Mount Athos. The Panagia Portaitissa, a famous 9th century icon, is also located there. Currently the monastery has about 30 working monks and novices, none of whom are Georgian. However, there are forty or so Georgian hermits living in hermitages near the monastery.
  • Skete* of Saint Andrew Very close to Karyes, on the road that connects Karyes with Daphne, one finds the Russian Skete of Saint Andrew, a huge building complex where in the centre stands the main church dedicated to Saint Andrew. It was built in 1867 and is the largest church on Athos rising to 30m in height and extending to 60 in length. It is called a skete because according to the customs and the statute of Mount Athos it is not possible to found new monasteries, besides the one of the Byzantine era. Just before World War I, the skete was inhabited by approximately 700 Russian monks. Nowadays, five Greek monks reside here and have taken upon them to revive the skete and deal with the preservation of the icons and the maintenance of the premises. Here is also situated the Athonias Academy, a secondary school for aspiring monks.
  • Ierissos is a town situated in the northeast part of the Athos peninsula and is the biggest harbor of Halkidiki. Ierissos is built on the ancient ruins of Akanthus, which means “thorn” and which later was translated by the Roman conquerors into “ericius” with the same meaning and thus the town got its current name. Like Ouranoupolis, Ierissos is an entry/exit point to and from the Holy Mountain.

* A Skete is a monastic community in Eastern Christianity that allows relative isolation for monks, but also allows for communal services and the safety of shared resources and protection. Skete communities usually consist of a number of small cells or caves that act as the living quarters with a centralized church or chapel. These communities are thought of as a bridge between strict hermetic lifestyle and communal lifestyles since it was a blend of the two.