Mount Athos Monastic Community

Mount Athos

An Orthodox spiritual centre since 1054, Mount Athos has enjoyed an autonomous statute since Byzantine times. The 'Holy Mountain', which is forbidden to women and children, is also a recognized artistic site. The layout of the monasteries (about 20 of which are presently inhabited by some 1,400 monks) had an influence as far afield as Russia, and its school of painting influenced the history of Orthodox art. Mount Athos ...
Founded: 800 AD | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Vatopedi Monastery

The Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos was built during the second half of the 10th century by three monks, Athanasius, Nicholas, and Antonius, from Adrianople, who were disciples of Athanasius the Athonite. 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 pea ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Great Lavra

The Monastery of Great Lavra is the first monastery built on Mount Athos. The founding of the monastery in AD 963 by Athanasius the Athonite marks the beginning of the organized monastic life at Mount Athos. Athanasius began the construction according to the will of his friend and Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas who funded the project. The emperors gave also the Great Lavra many other lands of property incl ...
Founded: 963 AD | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

St. Panteleimon Monastery

St. Panteleimon Monastery is built on the southwest side of the peninsula of Mount Athos. It is often referred to as 'Russian' and does have historical and liturgical ties to the Russian Orthodox Church; nevertheless, like all the other monastic settlements on Mount Athos, the monastery is under the direct ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and all its monks are cit ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Simonopetra Monastery

Simonopetra Monastery is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in the monastic state of Mount Athos. Simonopetra ranks thirteenth in the hierarchy of the Athonite monasteries. The monastery is located in the southern coast of the Athos peninsula. While the southern coast of Athos is quite rugged in general, the particular site upon which the monastery is built is exceptionally harsh. It is built on top of a single huge rock, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Stavronikita Monastery

The Monastery of Stavronikita is one of twenty monasteries on the Mount Athos peninsula and is located on the northeastern side of the peninsula at an elevation of about 50 meters above the sea. It is fifteenth in hierarchical rank among the monasteries. Stavronikita is the most recently built monastery on Mount Athos. It is also the smallest monastery among the twenty monasteries and is dedicated to St. Nicholas. ...
Founded: 1527-1536 | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Hilandar Monastery

Hilandar Monastery is the northern most monastery located on the northeast side of the Athos Peninsula. The monastery was founded in 1198 by saints Sava and Simeon. The Monastery has been supported and populated by Serbian monkssince then. It is ranked fourth in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Mount Athos peninsula. After forming the Serbian state Stephen Nemanja, the Grand Župan o ...
Founded: 1198 | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Iviron Monastery

Monastery of Iviron is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in the monastic state of Mount Athos in northern Greece. The monastery was built under the supervision of two Georgian monks, John the Iberian and Tornike Eristavi between 980-983 and housed Georgian clergy and priests. Iviron literally means 'of the Iberians' in Greek. The name Iviron originated from the ancient Georgian Kingdom of Iberia (Ive ...
Founded: 980-983 AD | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Docheiariou Monastery

The Dochiariou Monastery is located on the southwestern coast of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece. It is ranked tenth in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the peninsula. The origins of Dochiariou Monastery can be traced to the 10th century. The circumstances of its founding are varied. One variant is that the monastery was originally founded near the port of Daphne at the end of the ten ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Dionysiou Monastery

The Dionysiou Monastery is one of the twenty monasteries located on the peninsula of Mount Athos in northeastern Greece. The monastery is on the southwestern side of the peninsula. Dionysiou ranks fifth in the hierarchical order on Mount Athos and is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Dionysiou Monastery was founded in the 14th century by St. Dionysios of Koreseos. The golden bull authorizing the founding of the mon ...
Founded: 1374 | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Gregoriou Monastery

The Gregoriou Monastery is situated on the southwest side of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece, between the monasteries of Dionysiou and Simonopetra. Gregoriou originally was dedicated to the St. Nicholas but later was renamed in honor of its founder, Gregory. It is ranked seventeenth in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Mount Athos peninsula. The monastery was founded by St. ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Xenophontos Monastery

The Xenophontos Monastery is one of the twenty monasteries located on the peninsula of Mount Athos in northeastern Greece. The monastery is on southwestern side of the peninsula near St. Panteleimon"s Monastery. Xenophontos ranks sixteenth in the hierarchical order on Mount Athos. First mention of the founding of a monastery was in 998, while the monk Xenophon is credited with building the monastery that bea ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Zograf Monastery

The Holy Monastery of Zographou (or Zograf) is located on the southwestern side of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece. The monastery is dedicated to St. George. According to tradition, the monastery was founded during the 10th century by three Bulgarian brothers, the monks Moses, Aaron, and John from Ohrid. While the monastery initially was inhabited by Bulgarian, Greek, and Serbian monks, since 1845 the monks a ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Esphigmenou Monastery

The Esphigmenou Monastery is located on the northeastern coast of the Athos Peninsula close to the Monastery of Chilandari. It is ranked eighteenth in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the peninsula. Esphigmenou monastery has existed since the 10th century, although Athonite tradition attributes its founding to Empress Pulcheria, the sister of Emperor Theodosius II, in the 5th century. The ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Philotheou Monastery

The Monastery of Philotheou is one of twenty monasteries on the Mount Athos peninsula and is located on the eastern side of the peninsula. It is twelfth in hierarchical rank among the monasteries. The name of "Philotheou" is named after its founder, St Philotheos, and is derived from two Greek words which mean "Beloved of God". Philotheou functions as a coenobitic monastery. Founded by St Philotheos ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Koutloumousiou Monastery

The Monastery of Koutloumousiou is one of twenty monasteries on the Mount Athos peninsula and is located on the northeastern side of the peninsula, near Karyes. It is sixth in hierarchical rank among the monasteries. While the existence of the monastery is confirmed by document from 1169, Koutloumousiou Monastery was founded in its present form in the 14th century. Its central church was built in 1540. It is consi ...
Founded: 1169 | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Pantokratoros Monastery

The Pantokrator Monastery is ranked seventh in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Athos peninsula. As is case of the other institutions on Mount Athos, life at Pantokrator is coenobitic. The Pantokrator Monastery is located near the Monastery of Stavronikita. The monastery was founded about 1357 by Alexios the Stratopedarch and John the Primikerios. They are buried at the monastery. Th ...
Founded: c. 1357 | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Xeropotamou Monastery

The Monastery of Xeropotamou is one of twenty monasteries on the Mount Athos peninsula and is located on the southwestern side of the peninsula. It is eighth in hierarchical rank among the monasteries. The katholikon of the monastery is dedicated to the memory of the Forty Holy Martyrs. While tradition accords its founding to the Empress Pulcheria in mid-5th century, Xeropotamou Monastery is believed to have bee ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Agiou Pavlou Monastery

Agiou Pavlou monastery is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in the monastic state of Mount Athos, located on the easternmost peninsula of Chalkidiki, Greece. The founder of monastery was Paul of Xeropotamou, after whom it is named. The Monastery was founded in the late 10th to early 11th century by Saint Paul of Xeropotamou, also the founder of the Xeropotamou Monastery. Documents attest of its independence from Xero ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Karakallou Monastery

The Karakalou Monastery is situated on the southeast side of the Athos Peninsula in northern Greece, between the monasteries of Great Lavra and Iviron. Karakalou is dedicated to the Apostles Paul and Peter. It is ranked eleventh in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Mount Athos peninsula. Founded in the 11th century, the monastery received its name after either the Roman emperor Kar ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mount Athos, Greece

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.

Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.

In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.

In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.

Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.