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 including the island of Saint Eustratius and the Monastery of Saint Andreas in Thessaloniki.

The building project, according to the biography of Athanasius the Athonite, began with the protective wall and continued to the church and cells. After Athanasius' death, the monastery continued its operation normally. The emperors favored its development and during the 11th century there were 700 monks, while smaller monasteries had been ceded to Great Lavra.

In the 14th century the monastery suffered, like all the other monasteries of Mount Athos, from Catalan and other pirates. The result of the crisis was the formation of a peculiar way of monasticism, the Idiorrhythmic Way, despite the objections of the official Church and the emperors. In 1574, the Patriarch of Alexandria, Sylvester, helped and the monastery operated again under cenobitic monasticism, but soon the peculiar monasticism was again introduced.

In 1655, the Patriarch Dionysios III, who also became a monk, donated his personal fortune for the return to the cenobitic life but again these attempts were insufficient and the peculiar monasticism remained until the 20th century (1914), when there were new attempts for the return to the cenobitic life but without results. Since 1980 the monastery has been cenobitic.

Buildings

The main church (Katholikon) was found by Athanasius who lost his life together with 6 other workers when one of the domes fell during the construction. The architectural style of the temple is characterized by the two large areas of the chorus and the prayer. This style was then consecrated and was copied by the other monasteries. The frescoes were made in 1535 by the great painter Theophanis. However, the narthex was painted in 1854.

North of the narthex (liti), there is the chapel of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste in which there is the grave of Athanasius. South of the liti, there is the chapel of Saint Nicholas, painted by Franco Cantellano, in 1560. The trapezaopposite the central entrance has a shape of cross and is the biggest on Mount Athos. Its interior is full of frescoes, painted by Theophanis or his school.

The library of the monastery is located behind the main church. It contains 2,116 Greek manuscripts and 165 codices. There are also over 20,000 printed books, and about 100 manuscripts in other languages. The collection is one of the richest collections of Greek manuscripts in the world.

The vestry is behind the main church. Some of the most important artifacts are a manuscript of a gospel with a golden cover which is a gift from Nikephoros II Phokas and the list (Kouvaras) of the monks since Athanasius. There are also 2,500 icons which cover the whole history of hagiography of the second millennium.

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Mount Athos, Greece
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Founded: 963 AD
Category: Religious sites in Greece

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παύλος παυλίδης (2 years ago)
Μοναδικό μοναστήρι με υπέροχα κτίρια , αμέτρητα προσκυνήματα και φυσικά τον τάφο του Αγίου Αθανασίου του Αθωνίτη.Η Ιερά Μονή Μεγίστης Λαύρας χτίστηκε πάνω στα ερείπια της αρχαίας πόλεως «Ακροάθως» από τον Άγιο Αθανάσιο, το 963 μ.Χ. όπως αναφέρει ο ίδιος ο Άγιος στην διαθήκη του. Κατά την υπερχιλιετή ιστορία της η Μονή πέρασε εποχές ακμής και παρακμής. Περισσότεροι από 50 άγιοι ασκήτευσαν στην Μονή αυτή και στην περιοχή της. Η Μονή εορτάζει στις 5 Ιουλίου της Κοιμήσεως του Οσίου Αθανασίου του Αθωνίτη. Οι μοναχοί της Μεγίστης Λαύρας τιμούν επίσης την 1 η Οκτωβρίου και την Παναγία Κουκουζέλισσα. Οι υλικοί πόροι για το κτίσιμο της Μονής Λαύρας προσφέρθηκαν από τον Βυζαντινό Αυτοκράτορα Νικηφόρο Φωκά. Λίγο μετά τον θάνατο του αυτοκράτορα άμεση βοήθεια για την υλοποίηση του σχεδίου έδωσε ο αυτοκράτορας Ιωάννης Τσιμισκής. Μετά από μια δύσκολη περίοδο, διέξοδο στην πιεστική κρίση των συσσωρευμένων χρεών της έδωσε το 1655 ο πατριάρχης Διονύσιος Γ’ ο οποίος κληροδότησε την προσωπική του περιουσία στη Μονή. Η βιβλιοθήκη της Μονής διαθέτει 20.000 και πλέον έντυπα βιβλία, 2.500 χειρόγραφα, πολύτιμα έγγραφα υπογεγραμμένα από αυτοκράτορες, πατριάρχες και σουλτάνους καθώς επίσης 1650 ελληνικούς κώδικες από τους οποίους οι 650 είναι σε μεβράνη. Στο σκευοφυλάκιο της Μονής διατηρούνται εξαιρετικά πολύτιμα εκκλησιαστικά σκεύη, χρυσοκέντητα άμφια, πολύτιμες εικόνες – μία εκ των οποίων εικόνα είναι του Σωτήρος που ανάγεται στα 843 και του Ιωάννου του Θεολόγου. Αξιοσημείωτες είναι επίσης η εικόνα της Υπεραγίας Θεοτόκου της Κουκουζέλισσας, η αγία εικόνα της Θεοτόκου Κτιτορικής, η εικόνα του θαύματος που έγινε από τον Άγιο Αθανάσιο, και η εικόνα της Υπεραγίας Θεοτόκου της Οικονόμισσας. Η Μοναστική δύναμη της Μονής, σε σύνολο μοναχών και εξαρτηματικών, κυμαίνεται σήμερα στα 320-330 άτομα. Σημειώνεται ότι το Καθολικό της Μονής της Μεγίστης Λαύρας αποτελεί το πρότυπο για όλα τα αγειορίτικα καθολικά, με το οποίο και εγκαινιάσθηκε η αρχιτεκτονική τυπολογία του τρίκογχου οθωνικού ναού, δηλαδή με δύο μικρότερα ιερά εκατέρωθεν του κυρίως ιερού.
makiskard (2 years ago)
Ταξίδι πίσω στο χρόνο, είναι το λιμανάκι της Ιεράς Μονής Μεγίστης Λαύρας, ή αλλιώς ο "αρσανάς" της. Εαν δεν έχει φουσκοθαλασσιά, μπορεί να εξυπηρετήσει, μικρά πλοιάρια με προορισμό άλλες Μονές, την Δάφνη, ή ακόμη και την Ουρανούπολη ή την Ιερισσό.
Manolis Akoumianakis (3 years ago)
Η Ιερά Μονή της Μεγίστης Λαύρας είναι η μεγαλύτερη σε έκταση και η πρώτη στην ιεραρχία Μονή του Αγίου Όρους. Κτίστηκε πάνω στα ερείπια της αρχαίας πόλεως «Ακροάθως» από τον Όσιο Αθανάσιο τον Αθωνίτη, το 963μ.χ., με χρήματα που προσέφεραν οι αυτοκράτορες Νικηφόρος Φωκάς και Ιωάννης Τσιμισκής. Για δέκα περίπου αιώνες, διατηρούσε την πρώτη θέση μεταξύ των άλλων Μονών του Αγίου Όρους, λόγω του πλούτου και των κειμηλίων που είχε στην κατοχή της (χειρόγραφα, ιστορικά έγγραφα, χρυσόβουλα, φορητές εικόνες κ.λπ.). Εκεί υπάρχουν σπάνιες τοιχογραφίες του Κρητικού ζωγράφου Θεοφάνη(1535). Το Καθολικό συμπεριλαμβάνει δύο μεγάλα παρεκκλήσια, των Αγίων Σαράντα μαρτύρων (οπού βρίσκεται ο τάφος του Μ. Αθανασίου) και του Αγίου Νικολάου. Στα κειμήλια της Μονής συμπεριλαμβάνονται μεταξύ άλλων λείψανα καθώς και το ραβδί του Αγίου Αθανασίου, ο σάκκος και το στέμμα του αυτοκράτορα Νικηφόρου Φωκά, διάφορες πολύτιμες εικόνες, ευαγγέλια, λείψανα πολλών αγίων κ.α. Η Μοναστική δύναμη της Μονής, σε σύνολο μοναχών, κυμαίνεται στα 320 – 330 άτομα. Το καθολικό της Μονής της Μεγίστης Λαύρας αποτελεί το πρότυπο για όλα τα αγιορείτικα καθολικά, με το οποίο και εγκαινιάσθηκε η αρχιτεκτονική τυπολογία του τρίκογχου του κυρίως ναού. Αρχικά τιμόταν στη γιορτή του Ευαγγελισμού της Θεοτόκου αλλά σήμερα τιμάται στη μνήμη του Οσίου Αθανασίου του Αθωνίτη στις 5 Ιουλίου.
Gabriel Marin (3 years ago)
original unaltered Athos experience
fergus Flynn-Rogers (7 years ago)
Fancy i was there fifty years ago.we couldnt afford the ferries so we sweated our way ,walking from monastery to monastry!!! I had the smallest rugsack i could buy in london and was so pleased with myself as so many had huge ones like snails' shells but more burdensome!
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The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

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After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

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In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.