1. Overall View
2. The Katholikon
 3. The Tower
Figures and Issues
Skete of Prophet Elijah

3. The Tower

The high fortified tower. Fourteenth century.
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 rule.

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 times.

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.