Athos, Vatopedi Monastery
|Location||Agio Oros 603 86, Greece|
Mount Athos was perhaps the centre of Byzantine monasticism and remains a focus for Orthodox devotion. Women are strictly forbidden. Travel literature is littered with accounts of men who heroically went to Athos, braving fleas, bugs and horrid food – your heart bleeds for the poor dears – to see the treasures of the monasteries. For obvious reasons, I haven’t. But at the Monastery of Vatopedi, six mosaic panels survive, including a scene of the Annunciation, a Deesis over the west door and St Nicholas over the door to the parekklesion, whilst other mosaics may also have existed. Their dates could be anywhere between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries and the panels may come from different times.
How much mosaic there is on Athos, I don’t know. However very little survives, in contrast to wall paintings, icons and books. There is no obvious reason why the Athonite monasteries should not have been able to afford or obtain mosaic and so this seems likely to have been a matter of choice.
If you (bloke) go there, please bring me back some pictures!