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Zografou Monastery


Built in late 10th century, the Holy Monastery Zografou is one of the oldest on Mt. Athos. It is secluded deep in the forest at an altitude of 160 meters, one hour away from the beach and near a gorge. According to tradition it was founded by three brother-monks, whose descent was from the area of Achrida: Moses, Aaron and Ioannis, who took their monastic vows on Holy Mt. Athos in the 9th century, during the reign of Emperor Leon VI the Wise. Various documents cite the existence of the monastery from late 10th century onwards. Its fate was that of many other cardinal monasteries, a period of flourishing followed, in the 13th century, by a period of hardship and destruction , principally due to the pirate raids, while later, during the reign of Michael VIII Palaeologos and Andronicus a second period of flourishing is observed. Its monks were prosecuted during the reign of Michael VIII, known for his pro-Unification policy, when Patriarch Ioannis Beccus was at the Patriarchic Throne. The monks of Zografou fiercely opposed the Emperor and Patriarch’s unification attempts and tradition mentions that 26 of them, who stayed true to Orthodoxy, were tortured and martyred in February 1276, while the monastery was burned. In the 14th century the monastery will benefit from the assistance by princes of the Danubian Provinces and especially Stephen V Voivod of Moldova-Wallachia and Stephen VI the “Good” who will renovate is Refectory in 1495. Since its foundation the monastery has a tradition of accepting monks from Bulgaria, a tradition that continues until today. Its Catholicon celebrates Great Martyr St. George and has 14 chapels, of which 3 are illustrated. The church was build and illustrated in late 18th century. Special note must be made of its woodcut icon screen and altar, prime examples of woodcutting on Mt. Athos. The library of the monastery is located in the Tower and possess 550 manuscript codices of which 162 in Greek and 388 in Slavic. It also includes of more than 17.000 printed volumes. Its treasures include relics of Saints and miracle working icons, as well as historic documents of great value. Still surviving in the area of the monastery is the hut where Cosmas of Aetolia the Great apostle of our nation and holy martyr led an ascetic’s life.