The Touristic Info Halkidiki informs: Mount Athos - Monasteries and skites

Moni Megistis Lavra

Greek Orthodox, Holiday: July 5

The monastery, which was founded in 963AD, is not only the oldest in Athos, but also the most famous and venerable. It is situated at 150 meters altitude on a natural cliff on the southeast coast and directly at the foot of Mount Athos.

Its design is medieval because the monastery has all sorts of towers and ramparts. The fortress wall once had over 15 towers, today there are nine. Among them is the "Tower of Tzimiskes" which is the name of the Byzantine Emperor Ioannes Tzimiskes (969-976). Its founder is the monk Athanasios Othios (also: Athanasios Athonites).

In the summer of 963AD the establishment of a Katholikon for about 80 monks began which existed for almost 40 years. Now it has become much smaller. Athanasios made a major new development in case of attack around the year 1000. For more than 80 years there was scaffolding and then it collapsed, the architect and five other workers died.

The monk Athanasios then was buried in Katholikon. His grave is located in the north chapel.

The walls of the monastery rooms are partly with magnificent paintings by Theophanes in the year 1535 and Phrangos Katelanos from the year 1560. In Katholikon, the most beautiful and most important church is the Mount Athos monastery. There are frescoes dating back to 1535 according to the Cretan style paint. In the library of the monastery there are almost 2,500 historically valuable manuscripts, books and other documents.

Similarly, the monastery is home to precious priest robes and the crown of the Byzantine emperor Nikephorus I Phokas († 969AD). 
The monastery subordinates are the Skitest Agias Annas, Kavsokalyvia and Timiu Prodromu.

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