29 October 2011

The first known reference to a Vatopaidi metochi concerns “Prosphorion”. It was located in the region of today’s Ouranoupoli in Chalcidice. Until very recently this village preserved its old name. It was ceded to the Monastery by the Protos around the beginning of the 11th century and in 1018 a significant area was added to its south-eastern boundaries, abutting on the land of the neighbouring Monastery of Zygos3.

Already by 1344 the metochi’s large tower had been built. It still survives today4 , and of the dozens of Athonite metochi towers in Chalcidice, this the only one that is still inhabited. In August 1858 it was “empty and uninhabited”5, but in the same year it appears that extensive repairs and reconstruction work were undertaken in preparation for re-habitation6.

During the 16th century the area of the Monastery of Zygos7, which from 1199 was owned by the Monastery of Chilandari8, was added to the metochi. Investigatory excavations of the ruins of the Monastery, which has been identified with the so-called Frankokastro9, were recently begun.

During the 17th century further additions were made from large parts of the abandoned village of Komitissa, located in the western foothills of Megali Vigla. Included in these holdings were the ruins of the Monastery of Melissourgeion with its imposing triple-conched church of St Nicholas10. Beside the ruined monastery, yet still within the territory of Vatopaidi, one can discern the remains of the “common fortress of the Athonites”, constructed in 1326 by the Athonite monks so that they could control the main land entry to the peninsula11 .

The Prosphorion region borders to the south and to the south-east on the dependency of the St Panteleimon Monastery called Chromitsa. Today’s common boundary line of the two metochia, already established by 155112, constitutes the frontier of the jurisdiction of the Holy Mountain.

The metochi, consisting in the main of several hundred hectares of forest land and grazing pasture, was expropriated during the 1930s for the re-settlement of the refugees who established today’s Ouranoupoli. Before their houses were built, they settled in the buildings of the metochi, several of which (including the tower complex) survive and continue to be used.