The Town of Karyes


Karyes general view

The administrative center of the monastic republic of Mount Athos, Karyes is situated in a forest of walnut and hazel in the middle of the peninsula at an altitude of 370 m. It is home to the representatives of the monasteries and to those who trade in ecclesiastical objects and forest products of Mount Athos. The residents number 235 (1981), all male, of course. Tradition relates that Karyes was built by Constantine the Great, but destroyed by Julian the Transgressor.

The Protaton

The Church of the Protaton is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. It is located near the headquarters of the Epistassia and was built in the first half of the 10th century. Not only is it the oldest church on Mount Athos, it is also the only example of a three-aisled basilica with two narthexes. The north narthex is simply a portico.

The church was restored at the end of the 13th century and frescoed some years later by Manuel Panselinos, a famous exponent of the Macedonian School of painting. His frescoes entirely cover the interior surfaces of the church and are divided into four zones. In the lowest zone are depicted full-length saints of the Church; above this is the large composition of the Dormition of the Virgin; in the third zone are scenes from the New Testament; and the fourth and highest zone contains figures of prophets and ancestors of Christ. The frescoes are undoubtedly among the most splendid examples of Palaiologan art.

The present templon is a marble structure dating to the 10th century, which was restored in 1955, retaining the style of the Byzantine templon. The icons on the templon were painted by Theophanes in the mid-16th century and are typical examples of the style of the Cretan School of painting.

Not far from the church stands the bell-tower, which was built in 1534 by the Protos Seraphim.

At the groceries shop

Protaton interior view

Residence (konaki) at Karyes

Residence (konaki) at Karyes

Residence (konaki) at Karyes

At the main square

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