“A Picture speaks a thousand words”…clichéd but true…Embark on a 19000 word dream-seller’s story to Mount Athos is an enormous World Heritage Site, which is lawfully Greek, though ecclesiastically it is under the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople (Istanbul). The boat journey starts with an ever-changing landscape that turns wilder and untouched.
(Greek: Σιμωνόπετρα, literally: “Simon’s Rock”), also Monastery of Simonos Petra (Greek: Μονή Σίμωνος Πέτρας), is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in the monastic state of Mount Athos in Greece.
The monastery consists of several multi-storeyed buildings, the main being in the place of the original structure, built by Simon. The main building has been described as the “boldest construction of the peninsula”. The monastery is built on top of the underlying massive rock, and the rock runs through the lower floors.
Osiou Grigoriou (Gregory’s) monastery:
(Greek: Μονή Οσίου Γρηγορίου) is an Orthodox Christian monastery in the monastic state of Mount Athos in Greece. The monastery ranks seventeenth in the hierarchy of the Athonite monasteries. The monastery is built by the sea, on the southeastern side of the peninsula.
Skete of Saint Andrew:
From the very beginning of Athonite Monasticism, Karyai was a focal point of ascetic endeavour. A little above the area where is now housed our Skete, Saint Athanasios the Athonite found his first monastic home on Athos, and here in the region of the Skete, we hear mention of a Monastery named variously “Xystre” or “Xestou” from the 10th until the 15th centuries.
Life on Mt. Athos:
These monasteries allow visitors to stay overnight, and during our four-day stay on Mount Athos we experience life in monks’ shoes. It is a fascinating schedule that starts with the 4:00 am service, when they venerate the treasured relics and portable icons in the dark candle lit church with shining gold-leaf interiors. This is followed by the first meal of the day at 8:00 am. The day ends with a service at 3:00 pm and the last meal of the day at 4:00 pm.
Out of sync : Mount Athos follows the Julian calendar, so all local dates, including those on diamonitiria, are 13 days behind the rest of the Gregorian world.
Food On Mount Athos:
The Mount Athos diet plan mimics their typical Greek peasant and Mediterranean diet. However it is the diet of Greek Orthodox monks who live on Mount Athos in Greece that is being heralded as the latest way to help you lose weight, feel great and even live longer. Furthermore, eating takes place in a beautifully painted eating hall with a monk reading aloud lives of the saints or extracts from the Bible, so even if you don’t understand the language, trust me it will be an enjoyable experience.
A Monk’s Meal…
Our journey then unfolds like a labyrinth of stories.
Each monastery is a breathing storyteller, unique architecturally as well as in its functions. These monasteries are an excellent example of how a product of mind can fuse in so well with a product of nature.
Siddhant Shah is an avid traveller, photographer and an Architect with Majors in Indian Aesthetics. He has worked with the State Archaeological Department (Mumbai) UNESCO and ICOMOS. He is currently based in Greece, completing an MA in Heritage Management, and focuses on Management, Marketing and Disabled-Friendliness of Archaeological/Heritage Sites.