Eagle flag of the Byzantine empire


Holy Monastery of Megistis Lavras


Lavra is built on a small plateau on the northeast side of the peninsula, half an hour's walk from the sea. It was founded in 963 by St. Athanasios the Athonite and the nucleus was completed with grants from the Emperors Nicephoros Phocas and Ioannis Tsimiskis. The Catholicon is of the 10th century; the first one built in Agion Oros, frescoed in the 16th century with the excellent work of Theophanis the Cretan. Its feast day is on July 5, honoring the death of St. Athanasios. The tomb of the founder is in a chapel off the Catholicon. The monastery courtyard contains, in addition to the others, the chapel of Panagia Koukouzelissa where the homonymous icon is kept; the trapeze with frescoes by Cretan painters of the 16th century (probably Theophanis); the marble phiale for holy water and two 1000-year old cypress trees. Among the most valuable relics, many of which are kept in a modern vestry, are: a piece of the Holy Cross, the crown and the so-called robe of Nicephoros Phocas, the cross and iron staff of St. Athanasios and the heads of the martyrs Alexandros and Eustratios, as well as those of the bishops Basil the Great and Michael Sinadon. The library contains approximately 2.200 manuscripts and 30.000 printed works. Megisti Lavra is 1st in the hierarchy of the 20 monasteries.