3. The Tower
The stately tower of the monastery, built in the
north-west of the courtyard, is the largest monastery tower on Mount
Athos, and is a construction dating back to the monastery’s foundation.
It retains its original design to this day, with only a few changes
such as the crenellations dating from the early days of Turkish
The high fortified tower. Fourteenth century.
The tower has seven storeys access to which is through a narrow
spiral stairway. The tower has impressive inner rooms which are
today used mainly to house the monastery’s library and treasury.
In its two basements are stored wooden, marble and stone objects
such as iconostases, epistyles, round turret tops, lintels, column
capitals and so on belonging to different periods and in need of
maintenance or repair.
On the first floor are stored pieces of miniature and popular art
that are going to be exhibited in that same room after being cleaned.
On the second floor is the library with its hundreds of manuscripts,
thousands of printed books from various periods, as well as the
files of the monastery’s archive. On the third and fourth floor
is the sacristy where the valuable possessions of the monastery
are exhibited. These include portable icons, sacred vessels, sacerdotal
vestments, priceless codices, miniature craftworks, and so on, dating
from the seventh to the nineteenth century. Finally, on the fifth
floor there is the Chapel of the Ascension and the icon store of
the monastery with more than 700 portable icons, a most important
collection not only for Mount Athos but also for the wider Greek
world. The icons are dated from the fourteenth century to modern
After the new brotherhood had settled in
the monastery, the tower was completely restored in 1995 thanks
to a generous and noble grant from Mr Prodromos Emphietzoglou, president
of the construction group Mechaniki. A plaque on the wall by the
tower entrance bears an inscription in testimony of this.
(This strong, stone-built tower built by pious men and damaged over
the years by all-conquering time, that did not spare even the works
of the founders, was fully restored at the expense and by the contribution
of the most excellent and devout Archon Prodromos Emphietzoglou,
who made it into a a house of the muses, the work being completed
in the year One Thousand Nine Hundred and Ninety Five, during the
abbacy of Priest-monk Master Vissarion of Xenophontos. O Lord, King
of All, Pantokrator and Most Merciful, safeguard them and make them
worthy of the heavenly lot.)
Unfortunately during the restoration
work serious problems were uncovered concerning the ability of the
tower to keep out the damp. It was therefore found necessary to
apply a layer of plaster on a specially made external framework,
allowing for more permanent work to be done on it at a later date.
The damp-proofing work was completed in 2000.
Aview of the treasury.