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 been established at the end of the 10th century, by a monk named Paulos Xeropotamenos. Xeropotamou prospered until the 13th century when it was occupied and pillaged by the Franks. The monastery was supported in a revival in the 14th century by the Byzantine Roman Paleologan dynasty and Serbian princes. Then, after the fall of Constantinople further raids by the Turks and major fires in 1507 and 1609 caused major damage to Xeropotamou which had gone in decline.
Kaisarios Dapontes built the katholikon at Xeropotamou between 1761 and 1763. The church is typical of the Anthonite churches on the peninsula. The frescos were finished during the twenty years after the construction of the katholikon and have been kept in very good condition. Across a courtyard in front of the katholikon is the refectory built by the Wallachian abbot Alexander. The monastery suffered damage from fires recently in 1950 and 1973.
There are seven chapels within the monastery proper. These chapels are dedicated to the Archangels, Ss. Constantine and Helen, the Elevation of the Holy Cross, St. John the Baptist, St. Theodosios, St. George, and the Presentation of the Virgin. The monastery has external nine chapels and owns the port of Daphne.
The monastery library and treasury are located above the narthex of the katholikon. The library contains 409 manuscript codices, of which 20 are written on parchment, and some 4,000 printed books. Xeropotamou holds a number of pieces of the True Cross, including the largest piece. This piece, which contains one of the holes left by the nails that fastened Christ to the Cross, is set in a wooden crucifix. Additionally there are many relics of saints, episcopal staffs, vestments and liturgical objects in the monastery treasury.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.