Bulgarian, Russian & Serbian Monasteries in Mount Athos

Bulgarian, Russian & Serbian Monasteries in Mount Athos

There are 20 monasteries on Mount Athos, but only 17 of them are Greek. There’s a Russian, a Serbian & a Bulgarian monastery

There are 20 monasteries on Mount Athos, but only 17 of them are Greek. There’s a Russian, a Serbian & a Bulgarian monastery. And here’s some info about them.

Bulgarian, Russian & Serbian Monasteries in Mount Athos Halkidiki

Mount Athos is a holy land in northern Greece and one of the most interesting destinations in Halkidiki, solely for males. Women are not allowed to cross the borders from Ouranoupolis to the Holy Mountain but only view Mount Athos from a boat.

Another interesting fact is that Mount Athos is self-governed and still under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. What’s even more intriguing is that of the 20 monasteries, only 17 are Greek. The other three are not. The St. Panteleimon Monastery is Russian. The Hilandar Monastery is Serbian. And the Zograf Monastery is Bulgarian. Let’s visit them.

Russian Monastery St. Panteleimon

The monastery has been founded and inhabited for many years by Russian monks – hence, it’s known as the Russian monastery of Mount Athos. Today, there are Russian and Greek monks. This is one of the largest monasteries on the holy mountain.

Although part of it was destroyed by a fire in the 13th c., it was rebuilt and resembles a small village due to the plethora of buildings and guest quarters. The main church, called katholikon, boasts of its impressive cupola with the amazing frescoes – a true representative of Russian art.

The Hilandar Serbian Monastery

Although the Hilandar Monastery dates back to the 10th c., it was renovated when the Byzantine Emperor Alexios III passed it into the hands of the Serbian rulers Stefan and Rastko Nemanja (father and son) who relinquished their throne and became monks.

The highest peak of the monastery was the 14thc. due to various donations. The Hilandar Monastery remains a spiritual center for the Serbs and apart from the katholikon (main church) and the chapels, it has many cells and other buildings (guest houses and one of the greatest libraries with Greek and Slavic manuscripts), while it is famous for its icons and frescoes.

The Bulgarian Zograf Monastery

The Zografou monastery was founded in the early 10th c. by Bulgarians and was named after Saint George the Zograf. Zografos means painter in Greek. And that’s the interesting thing with the monastery’s name. According to the legend, the icon of St. George painted itself.

It’s one of the icons made without hands – miraculously came into existence. Today, the monastery is inhabited by Bulgarian Orthodox monks, has several chapels, and its central church (katholikon) was only built last century.


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