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Iviron Monastery

The monastery of Iviron is dedicated to the memory of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Situated above a picturesque inlet on the north-east side of the peninsula, close to a gushing stream of water, it is reached after half an hour's easy downhill walk from Karyes.

The katholikon of the monastery is dedicated to the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Restored in 1513, it was originally built in the first half of the eleventh century by the Iberian monk George Varasvatzes, who for many years held the office of abbot. It stands almost in the centre of the court, and follows the typical plan of the Byzantine Athonite church. The magnificent marble opus sectile floor with various geometrical patterns and bearing the inscription in capital letters "I erected these columns and they shall not be shaken by time. George the Iberian, monk and founder" has been preserved. Also worthy of notice are the reused bizonal capitals decorated with acanthus leaves and rams'heads which top the columns of the nave.

The wall-paintings belong to different periods between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries, when they were repainted. Of interest also is the post-Byzantine wood iconostasis carved with rich foliage; the finely carved door made of silver and ebony which leads from the exo-narthex to the inner narthex; and the seven-branched silver lampstand in the shape of a lemon tree with thirty gilded lemons. According to the metrical inscription in Russian and Greek, it was presented to the archimandrite Cyril by the inhabitants of Moscow in 1818 as a gift for his monastery.

A third, glazed narthex decorated with wall paintings was added to the double narthex in 1795.

In front of the church stands the phiale for the blessing of the waters, reconstructed after the fire of 1865. Opposite the west door of the church is the refectory which was rebuilt and enlarged by the archimandrite Athanasios the Akarna in 1848. The tall bell tower above its entrance was constructed in the same year.

To the monastery of Iviron belongs the skete of St. John the Baptist.

The treasury of Iviron contains one of the richest and most valuable collections on Athos. It is housed alongside the library in a new one-storey building in the court. Its treasures are of inestimable value, and include gold-embroidered sacerdotal vestments, ecclesiastical plate, crosses, communion cupas, pectorals, mitres, the complete sacardotal dress of the Patriarch Dionysios IV, the cloak of Gregory V, a finely embroidered curtain of the Royal Door, the work of the embroideress Kokkona Orologa, representing the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and many other sacred objects and relics. Finally, the so-called sakkos of the Emperor John Tzimisces is displayed in a case in the library. This liturgical vestment is decorated with various arabesque patterns and bears representations of ten lions' heads and four two-headed eagles. It is probably a sacerdotal vestment of the fifteenth century.

The library is richly stocked and well-organised. It contains more than 2,000 manuscripts, varying widely in content and made of different materials, and 15 liturgical scrolls. Of these codices 123 are written on parchment, another 23 on bombasine or paper. To these must be added about 100 parchment texts in the Georgian language. The illustrations in several of the Greek manuscripts (nos. 1, 5,55, 56, 111,463, 874, etc.). are of interest. In addition to its manuscripts the library contains over 15,000 printed books, amongst which are some very fine first editions and incunabula.

The library also contains several important imperial and patriarchal documents, the most noteworthy of which are the chrysobulls of the Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitos (946 and 958), Romanos 11(960) and Basil II.

A view of the monastery from behind.You can see the fields t ... East of the monastery entrance.A view of the monastery from ... Monastery Church A defense tower located close to the beach and at the entran ...

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