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Monastery Karakalou

Right between the two abbeys of Lavras and Iveron, in a wooded area, two hundred meters above sea level, there lies the Greek abbey of Karakalou, half an hour away from shore. The first things one sees arriving at the abbey are the fountain, the vine-arbor and the huge tower. In the yard, there are many vine-arbors and orange trees, a common sight at most of the abbeys of Athos. The visitor will notice the fountains, the oratories, ancient architectural fragments, inscriptions that record Acts of Possession or other important events, which all are compounded in an harmonious way.

Furthermore, one will notice the palm trees of the Gregoriou abbey and the cypresses at the Lavra abbey, orange trees at the Katakalou abbey and two cypresses at the Gregoriou abbey, which make these abbeys distinct from others.

As the visitor arrives to the “archontariki”, he will enjoy a wonderful view. To the east, he can see the Aegean Sea stretching to meet the sky. To the west there are wild ravines all around the summits of Athos mountains.

We don’t know much about how the abbey was built and the legends sound a little bit controversial. Anyway, it is assumed from several documents that were found, that the abbey existed from the 11th century but we still don’t know who founded it. According to tradition, the abbey’s founder is someone called Nicholaos from the village Karakalla (that’s why the abbey is called Karakalou). During the 13th century the abbey was deserted and it was renovated in 1294 by Andronicus Paaleologos the second.

At the third ritual of Aghion Oros, it has the third place among the abbeys. Unfortunately, it was destroyed again by the pirates and it was rebuilt in the 16th century by the King of Wallachia, Peter the Fifth, who became a monk. In 1707, Dionysius the Iberian restored the north wing. In 1877, the south wing was rebuilt, after it was burned the previous year. The east wing was built in 1888. The period 1548-1563 and its wall paintings date from the 18th century. The icon of the Twelve Apostles is a painting done by the famous artist Dionysios from Furna (1722). The abbey has seven chapels, four of which have wall paintings and icons. The abbey’s library contains about 300 manuscripts, 42 of which are of parchment and 3.000 prints. The collection of treasures includes wood from the Holy-Cross, amulets, crosses, relics of saints, sacerdotal vestments e.t.c.

In the beginning, the abbey was peculiar. In 1813, it became a cenobetic one. 18 cells belong to the abbey, four of them are at Karies and the other fourteen are scattered in the woods.