A dreamland for the Westerners and a refuge for the praying Orthodox worshiper is unveiled in the four thematic units of the Exhibit of Mount Athos Treasures which are being presented, for the first time ever to the public, from June 21 until the end of the year, at Thessaloniki's Museum of Byzantine Culture, a monumental event, perhaps the year's grandest, organised by the Organisation of Cultural Capital of Europe.

Treasures unknown even to the most specialised experts, unpublished works that date back to the Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods, 600 rare and valuable objects are, for the first time ever in a history of over 1,000 years, taken out from the monastic community to be presented to all those who have not had the opportunity or are unable to visit Mount Athos.

The Exhibit, covering an area of 1,600 square meters, will present works that are indissolubly linked with the founding, history and daily life of the Mount Athos monasteries. It is an unprecedented event, especially for women who are not permitted to set foot on Mount Athos. As the Minister of Culture Evangelos Venizelos has stated, this is an unrivalled exhibit with far more splendour from the exhibit "The Glory of Byzantium" which is on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A score of specialists and professionals have worked on the organisation of the Exhibit, putting forth tens of thousands of hours in tightly-coordinated preparation. Over one hundred specialists from various fields, among them distinguished Byzantine history experts, historians and archaeologists as well as seventy-five preservationists of the Ministry of Culture, have collaborated to produce an Exhibit of titanic dimensions.

The Exhibit has its premise on a notional axis which connects the four thematic units (nature, architecture, everyday life, relics) so that it may convey the overall spirituality that is inherent in all aspects of life in the monastery, not as a passage through place, but rather as a composition in time.

As the head of the Museum's task group architect G.P. Triantafyllides points out, on display will be time periods reflecting the history of Mount Athos and the Byzantium and will reveal sub-categories and comments guided by the advice given by specialists. The manner of the Exhibit's design, according to Mr. Triantafyllides, reflects semantic associations, serves heritage, is respectful of the exhibited items and, overall, corresponds to the basic notional axis. As such, the borrowing of the geometric characteristics of a "Naos, "Kivotos", Skevofylakio" is trying to serve this purpose.

The exhibition is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 08:00 to 19:00 hrs., and on Monday, from 12:30 to 19:00 hrs. The admission price is 2,000 drachmae for adults and 500 drachmae for senior citizens (over 65) and persons with special needs. Admission is free for young people (under 18), for students of universities and technical colleges, employees of the Ministry of Culture, monks, clergymen, tour guides and those doing their national service. Admission is free for journalists, at the showing of their professional identification card at the entrance (members of the Athens Journalists' Union, of the Macedonia-Thrace Union, or other equivalent unions), their International Press Card, the identification card of the Medium they work for, or a Press Card, obtainable at the Press Bureau. Those interested in a guided tour can contact the Office of the Organization for the Cultural Capital, at the Museum of Byzantine Culture (tel. no.870829, 870830), where there is a list of available guides. Arrangements with the guides must be done in advance, by the interested parties.

Participating in the Exhibit is the Protaton of the Holy Community of Mount Athos, as well as the Holy Monasteries of: the Sketes:
  • ST. ANNE, Megistis Lavras
  • ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, Megistis Lavras
  • ST ANDREW, Vatopediou
  • PROPHET ELIJAH, Pantokratoros
  • NEW SKETE, St. Paul
  • Bogoroditsa, St. Panteleimon-Russian
as well as the Kellia:
  • HOLY TRINITY, Chelandariou
  • GREAT VIRGIN, Koutloumousiou
  • FOURNA, Koutloumousiou
  • RAVDOUCHOU, Pantokratoros
  • ST. GEORGE KALATHA, Simonopetras
  • EVANGELISMOU, Simonopetras
  • ST. NICHOLAS DONTAS, Simonopetras
  • ST. SIMON, Simonopetras


© 1997 Macedonian Press Agency