Konstamonitou Monastery

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Konstamonitou Monastery

The Monastery of Kastamonitou celebrates on the day of Martyr Stefanos on the 27th of December. For the establishment of the monastery there is no confirmed testimony since all the relevant documents have been destroyed. However in a document of the 11th century Ilarion Kastamonitis is referred to as the owner.

The Monastery is located close to the Monastery of Zografou in a 50' distance from the coast, in an altitude of 200 meters. According to the stories of its founding these are the different versions, the first talks about the erection of a temple by Emperor Constantinos the Great and his son Constantios in the 4th century. Other sources link its establishment with a monk from Kastamoni of Asia Minor, who was said to have built the monastery at the location where perhaps was the ancient town Thyssos.

The first confirmed testimony for the existence of the Monastery dates back to the late 11th century and is found in a document of 1097 which mentions the abbot Ilarion Kastamoniti (possibly owner of the monastery). It is mentioned with the name Monastery of Kastamonitou in the golden seal of emperor Ioannis I Paleologos, in the golden seal of Manuel II Paleologos as well as in the third Document (1393). It is the 20th in hierarchy among the monasteries of Mount Athos. In 1288 after the damage it received from Catalan mercenaries, great economic assistance was offered by the emperor Andronikos II Paleologos. Great was also the financial aid of princess Anne of Philanthropinis and of Emperor Manuel II Paleologou and of the Serbian ruler Georgios Vrankovich. Serbian General Radic also donated substantial sums to the Monastery. After the 16th century the monastery was in economic malaise because again a fire destroyed the facilities and this situation seems to have continued until the end of the 18th century, when an new era of development began. In 1799 there was financial assistance when patriarch Neofytos turned it into a communal Monastery. In the next few years, new benefactors appeared such as Vasiliki of Ali Pasha. One of the precious gifts she offered was the Lectionary which is kept at the Prothesis. From 1835 the economic situation started to improve thanks to the initiatives of Simeon from Stagira. The monastery owns 4 chapels inside, 4 outside, 1 Seat and 1 Cell in Κaryes.

The Katholikon was built in 1860-1867 on the ruins of the old temple and it has not been painted. The Prothesis is without frescoes and it is located on the west wing.

The library contains 110 manuscripts, 14 parchments, and over 1,000 incunables.

In the sacristy there are official documents, golden and silver seals, a piece of the Holy Wood, wooden carved crosses, functional utensils, sacred relics and sacred canonicals. Among the pictures kept there, there are three miraculous pictures such as the picture of Agios Stefanos (8th century), the pictureof Panagia Antiphonitria and the picture of the Virgin Mary of Panagia Odigitria gift of princess Anna of Philanthropini.

Each day, 100 Orthodox and 10 non-Orthodox male pilgrims are admitted for a three-night stay in one of the peninsula's 20 monasteries. Clergy and those who have a special invitation from the monasteries are excluded. Because of the small number of non-orthodox permits issued, if you are planning to visit Mount Athos you should run the necessary procedures the earliest possible. Women are not allowed to enter Mount Athos by law, and there is a penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment for those who break it. Boys were not allowed in the past, but the policy has become more flexible over the years, and now boys can come if they're accompanied by an adult - usually their father.

To enter Mount Athos a permit is required for both individuals and groups. The permit is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate of Churches or by the Ministry of Northern Greece. Orthodox Greeks can apply by producing their identity card at the Athos Bureau in Ouranoupolis on the right side of the port. Diamonitiria (permits to stay as a pilgrim) are issued by the offices of the Athos Bureau, at Ouranoupolis. In order to get their diamonitirion visitors must show their identity cards and pay the sum of €25 for Orthodox visitors, €35 for non-Orthodox visitors or €18 for students. Foreign visitors also need a passport; if you are Orthodox but not Greek, you will need to prove this with a letter from a priest or a baptismal certificate. Foreigners can send an e-mail to athosreservation@gmail.com a photocopy of the request along with their passport. Once you have secured your accommodation, you will need to contact the monastery that you wish by sending a letter to the guest request.

Once in Agio Oros, you can travel around. The hospitality at the monasteries is provided free of charge. Bed and board are offered to the holders of the permit. If you are planning to visit Mount Athos you should bring with you long sleeved shirts, long trousers, flashlight, athletic shoes and a flashlight. Bear in mind that the monastery doors close by sunset. Mobile phones and photo cameras are allowed, but DO NOT photograph the monks. Video cameras are not allowed. Swimming in the sea or listening to loud music is not allowed either. Follow the ritual during lunch and dinner. Everyone, visitors and monks enter the dining room and stand upright in front of their seat. The Abbot prays, gives his blessing, a bell sounds, and everyone sits down to eat without talking to each other. A monk reads ecclesiastic texts and in about 20 minutes the bell sounds for the second time. If you have or you have not finished eating, you must get up, the abbot prays and after he finish you can get out of the dining room.

The Mount Athos Pilgrims’ Bureau- Athos
Official Office
109 Egnatia str,
54635 Thessaloniki
Tel. for nationals +302310252575 Tel. for foreigners +302310252578 Fax +302310222424
Thessaloniki office hours: Monday-Friday 09:00 – 14:00, Saturday: 10:00 – 12:00