The Monastery of Esfigmenou

Credits

General view

Esphigmenou monastery stands on the north-east side of the peninsula in a precipitous location by the sea. Probably established in its present form in the tenth or eleventh century. According to Athonite tradition, it was originally founded by the Byzantine Empress Pulcheria in the fifth century. Pirates seized and looted it three times, and it was burnt down in the fourteenth century, leading to its decline. It began to flourish again in the seventeenth century, and the process was not curbed by the extensive damage it suffered during the Greek War of Independence of 1821.

The monastery has forty-two monks (1990), observes the coenobitic (communal) way of life, and is eighteenth in the hierarchy of the Athonite monasteries.

The katholikon is dedicated to the Ascension of Our Lord and was built in the first decade of the nineteenth century. It has a large central dome and seven smaller domes, and was frescoed in 1811, 1818, and 1841. Apart from the katholikon, there are also fifteen chapels, eight inside and seven outside the monastery. The chapels of the Presentation of the Virgin and the Archangels are in the katholikon, right and left of the eso-narthex. The other chapels are dedicated to the Saints Kosmas and Damian, Saint Anthimos, Saint George, Saints Constantine and Helen, Saint Gregorios Palamas, Neilos the Wise, Neilos the Myrovletes and John the Merciful.

Near the Katholikon stands the phiale for the blessing of the waters. The refectory stands opposite the western side of the katholikon.

There is a library with 372 manuscript codices and 8,000 books, and a sacristy which boasts, among other things, a piece of gold-embroidered cloth, which is believed to have come from the tent of Napoleon Buonaparte.


General view from above

Orthodoxy or death

The cells of the monks

The refectory

The main church (kyriakon)

Kyriakon (interior view)

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