The treasures

The Exhibit's central axis is the sector of the six hundred relics that represent twenty-two categories of works. Monumental art, icons, manuscripts -some of which feature cartoons-, craft works, needlepoint, wood carvings, ceramics, vessels, tools, furniture, facilities, are just some of the material proof of the cultural heritage that is being guarded for centuries now at the holy monasteries of Mount Athos. Byzantine and post-Byzantine art, history, the brilliance and the dogmatic and aesthetic influence it has borne on the Orthodox peoples, the contribution to education and the participation in spiritual movements are reflected in all of these objects.

A score of specialists was recruited for the careful selection of the materials and, after lengthy research and a series of task group visits to Mount Athos along with the monks' input, the Exhibit's catalogue was composed, accompanied by the general overviews and more analytical articles. The preservation of the relics followed.

"Mount Athos is Greece's richest region in Byzantine and post-Byzantine art. Its archaeological, historical and artistic significance, along with the theological one, is profound and the architectural monuments, as well as the paintings, sculptures, etc., make up a cultural documentation that is singular not only for Orthodoxy and Greece but for the whole world," points out the curator of the sector of the exhibition, professor of architecture at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Nikolaos Nikonanos, adding that each relic is a gate to heaven, guarded by the monks like the apple of their eye.

Preserved at Mountain Athos are monumental art works drawn on a surface of 100,000 square metres, among them over 15,000 icons, a selection of manuscripts, some of which feature cartoons, 14,000 valuable items, needlepoint, carved wood work and lithographs, photographs, stamps, as well as hymns, incunabula, written works and other notes. This timeless selection also features vessels, ecclesiastical objects, furniture and facilities. The six hundred treasures exhibited at the Byzantine Museum are only a small part of this rich collection.



© 1997 Macedonian Press Agency