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New Athos


Temple of New Athos

In the center of New Athos there is a small Greek cross temple available with three apses as a unique monument of ancient architecture devoted to St. Simon.

This church was constructed in the 6 th -8 th centuries during period of rising Anacopy as the administrative and religious center of the Abkhazian kingdom. Subsequently this temple became the bishopric and also served for burying any clergymen of the Sukhum (Tskhum) Diocese. This fact has been evidenced by a stone laid prior to 1882 beneath south entry gate and depicted with a circle with christcross and Greek inscription such as «The Holy Virgin, save George, the sacramental (i. е . the Metropolitan) of Tskhum». Before the first restoration procedure it had been the tombstone above burial ground of the abovesaid Metropolitan George.

The temple walls as well as its lost antechurches have been once plastered with relevant frescoes. The ecclesiastic and secular historians refer usually this temple to the name of St. Simon The Apostle, native of Cana of Galilee and companion of St. Andrew The Apostle. According with the church tradition they passed with homiletics from the south shore of the Black Sea to Viphinia and Pont arriving in 55 th year A.D. at Abkhazia borders whereas St. Andrew left St. Simon in vicinity of Psyrtskha river with purpose to disseminate the Christian faith among local indigenous people. The same year St. Simon was persecuted and martyred. Afterwards the white stoned temple has been erected on its burial site in memory of the first contacts of the Christians and Abkhazians.

 

The monastery of New Athos

The New Athos Monastery was established in 1875 by the monks of Old Athos (means “calm, desolate” in Greek) monastery located in Greece on the hilly forested Agion-Oros peninsula in the Aegean Sea at the eastern headland of the Chalcedonian peninsula.

The new monastery started to make its most active efforts upon the Statute of the New Athos Monastery approved by the emperor Alexander II on December 8, 1879. This Statute granted any rights for respective missionary and economic activities of the monks. In 1886 the New Athos was visited by Alexander III, the emperor. Then the monks have erected a chapel on site of meeting the tsar and father superior while the path passed by the tsar from the St. Simon's temple to the New Athos monastery was called as «the tsar's alley».

Following the emperor the New Athos monastery was visited by any other high officials of the Russian Empire. One such permanent guest became the Grand Prince Mikhail, tsar's brother and the Caucasian governor who saw proper to patronize this place.

Since 90's of the nineteenth century the New Athos monastery became the largest religious center of the Russian Empire within the Caucasian shore of the Black Sea .

The monastery buildings along with its churches were constructed in 1883-1896. In the center of west building the belfry of 50 meters' height rises with its watch with its melody chimes to be heard far in vicinity. Beneath the bell tower a former monastery refectory is placed with its walls (as in small churches) painted by frescoes of famous Olovyannikov brothers from Volga river.

In the center of rectangle made by monastery buildings the tall Panteleymon Cathedral was erected in 1888-1900 capped with its five domes (the central one of 40 meters' height. The cathedral has its length of 53,3 m, width of 33,7 m respectively. It was constructed in so called New Byzantine style which was very common for the Russian ecclesiastic architecture of late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Its inner walls were painted sumptuously in 1911-1914 by the Palekh skilled craftsmen of the Vladimir Province and team of the Moscow painters led by N. Molov and A. Serebryakov. These frescoes are distinct with its blue, brown and golden colors mainly. In some cases one could note some deviations from the conventional icon paintings referring specifically to the image of Mary Magdalene made by M. Nesterov, the famous Russian artist, as well as to the scene of The Last Judgement close to the central entrance. The murals of the Panteleymon cathedral are also interesting because this is one of latest monuments of the Russian ecclesiastic icon paintings' school.

The New Athos monastery id the largest cult entity of Abkhazia. Currently the diocese spiritual college of New Athos functions here.

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