The Monastery of Great Lavra (tel. +30 377 22586)

The Monastery of Great Lavra Great Lavra is built on the south-eastern end of the Athos Peninsula and is the earliest and biggest foundation on Mount Athos. It was founded by the monk Athanasios the Athonite during the years of the Emperors Romanos the Second and Nikephoros Phocas. He is considered to be the founder of Athonite monasticism and the Holy Monastery of Great Lavra is the mother monastery of Mount Athos.

The monastery occupies the first rank in the hierarchical order of the twenty Athonite monasteries. It is inhabited by 317 monks (1990), the most in comparison to the other monasteries, and is idiorrhythmic (self-regulating).

It features the shape of a small medieval town, is surrounded by a strong fortress with 15 towers. Inside and outside these towers there are 37 chapels, many independent kellia, three sketes and regions of kalyve.

The katholikon The katholikon has served as a model for all the katholika of the Athonite monasteries. It was built in 963 by Athanasios. It is a four-columned church with a dome. Restoration works performed at later times gave the church a cross-like shape.

The library contains 2,046 manuscripts, 165 codices and 30,000 printed books. The treasury is very rich. It houses the crown and sakkos (liturgical vestment) of Nikephoros Phocas, ecclesiastical plates, sacerdotal vestments, the relics of many saints, etc.

© 1997 Macedonian Press Agency