Thessaloniki the Cultural Capital of Europe in 1997, will host the monumental and unique Exhibition of Treasures of the Holy Mountain for five months at the Museum of Byzantine Culture.

The Mt. Athos Exhibition may prove to be the most important social, scientific and cultural event in 1997. Bringing a part of this extraordinary living monument of Cristian Orthodox monasticism to Thessaloniki presents Greeks, both at home and abroad, the female public prohibited from visiting the Holy Mountain , and Orthodox Cristians everywhere, with the unique opportunity to experience the past, present, and future of an unprecedented event in our cultural and religious life.

The Treasures of Mt. Athos will be displayed in sixteen halls of the Thessaloniki Museum of Byzantine Culture, a total area of 1,600 m and will consist of four subject units:

The unspoilt environment of Mt. Athos, one of the four subjects covered by the Exhibition, unique in natural beauty. The first anchorites chose the site because of its isolation, away from the main East and West crowded routes.
The flora and fauna on the Mountain have retained its purity through the centuries, untouched by irresponsible exploitation and other wilful human intrusions. In the sheltered of the Holy Mountain, the work of exceptional craftsmen has ensured the security of and provided for, the vital functions of everyday life and worship of the communities. The original fortifications became the boundaries of the subsequent complex monastic establishments.

Athonite architecture, will comprise part of the exhibition which will demonstrate how this style gave structural and aesthetic solutions to the monastic requirements.

The part of the exhibition on monastic life as experienced in the Athonite environment will include the monk’s worship, study and prayer in the main church (katholikon), in his monastic dwellings in a skete (small monastic village) and kellion (a single building contain a small chapel and land), as well as customs and rules of conduct.

The display of Holy Treasures should be of special interest. Mt Athos preserves paintings of monumental art covering an area of approx. 100,000 m2, more than 15,000 portable icons, a collection of 14,000 manuscripts (some of which are illuminated), numerous artifacts, embroidered fabrics, wood and stone carvings, seals, pottery, hymnals and other antiquarian book and documents.

This timeless collection also includes utensils, religious vessels and vestments, workshop tools and equipment, furniture and other items, pertaining to the everyday life and worship of the Athonite monasteries and their dependencies. Many specialists are working on this Exhibition which will be an unprecedented attempt to present the 589 exhibits, covering the period from the 10th century to the present and representing the spiritual life and artistic creativity on Athos.

The final form of presentation and will be based on a detailed museological study. An effort will be based on a detailed museological study. An effort will be made on to avoid the indifferent display of items .On the contrary, an attempt will be made to recreate the austere monastic environment and present the items in this light. The Organization will publish special editions to accompany this Exhibition, covering the whole range of subjects related to it, which may eventually become an invaluable source of reference.

The exhibition of Treasures of the Holy Mountain in Thessaloniki, the Cultural Capital of Europe in 1997, will be held at a time when international interest on Byzantine civilization has been rekindled.

The Organization hopes to convey a true picture of the rich culture of Holy Mountain to the thousands of visitors anticipated to walk through the halls of the Thessaloniki Museum of Byzantine Culture, in order to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and experience the priceless treasures of Orthodoxy and Hellenism as preserved in «the garden of the Holy Virgin».