Guess where I’ve been? No, you won’t guess. That’s a stupid question. I’ll start off by making an excuse to my daily routine of writing by saying that I went away on a holiday. A special kind of holiday. A pilgrimage to Mount Athos, Greece.
Greece is a very poor and beautiful country, populated by very friendly people. The ruralness and vast terrains of Halkidiki are enchanting. Peaceful, quiet, humble.So isolated from the rest of the world.
Athos is one of the three so-called fingers of Halkidiki, a narrow piece of terraneous land on which a lot of monasteries have been built. I spent two days there, in two different monasteries. The first one was Russian, in memory of St. Panteleimon; an array of buildings on a steep hill, right next to the sea. The church itself was a rectangular, tall building with huge pillars surrounding the construction and four blue domes covering each pillar. The fifth, and the biggest, was right in the centre of the assembly. Each dome had a huge golden cross, strapped with wires from four sides. The walls were made of white marble onto which intricate designs were engraved. Right next to the church stood the belfry, a tall tower that had a large, roman clock fixed to the wall. Walking to the church in the morning, you could hear it sing wonderful, uplifting melodies. Not like the same, monotonous sounds you hear from protestant and anglican churches.
Alas, I cannot provide you with any photos of the wondrous architecture, as I haven’t taken any, as it was against their policies. Sad Face. Well, I took some of the monastery outside of their boundaries, so technically there’s nothing wrong with that.
Vatopedi monastery was the place I headed to after St. Panteleimon. Built during the 10th century, it comes second in the hierarchy of Athos monasteries. St. Panteleimon’s was very perfect and well looked after. It was rich and it boasted its beauty, whereas Vatopedi had a different approach. Not as rich and magnificent, it looked humble and extremely old. The church was part of an array of buildings and lacked that wow-factor that the previous monastery had. But when you walk into the church, you realise how fascinating and breathtaking it is. In the dim light, you can barely make out the glorious, unrestored frescos, painted around the walls.
I have to say, Athos is a very special place and the visit was a lifetime experience. I hope to appreciate the journey more as time goes by...
See more photographs of my journey in my photography portfolio.
$root - whoami pilgrim
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