Karyes 18km (3 and 30′ hours) The legendary Monastery Simonos Petra or Simonopetra is an extremely imposing seven-floored building, situated on a bluff cliff of the southwestern side of Athos. The monastery itself is an architectural miracle, the most peculiar and special building in Mount Athos, with a view over Athos from the southeast and the superb colours of the sun and the sea from the west. The monastery was founded in the 13th century by Simonas Myrovlytis, who, according to tradition, was driven to this rocky area by a light he saw on a night at Christmas time! There, he managed to build this monastery, which is considered an architectural miracle. He named it New Bethlehem, but in the end the monastery was named after the stone he used to build it: Simonos. The monastery is dedicated to the Birth of Jesus Christ and celebrates on the 25th of December / 7th of January. Tel. +30 23770 23254, 23700
The monastery is located on the south-west shore of the Athos peninsula. It was built by Saint Simon in the beginning of the 14th century on a sheer cliff rising 230 meters above the sea.
It occupies thirteenth rank in the hierarchical order of the twenty Athonite monasteries. It is inhabited by 80 monks (1990) and is coenobitic (communal).
Its majestic building is seven-storeyed. It has thrice been destroyed by fire, in the 14th and 17th centuries and in 1891. Most of the monastery’s documents, books, liturgical vessels and chrysobulls were destroyed in the fire, while the most recent disaster burnt down the katholikon and the library.
The monastery’s rebuilding began in 1891 aided by the generosity of the Russian Tsars. The katholikon is dedicated to the Birth of Christ, maintains the Athonite architecture and contains certain parts of the old building. It is a small church and it is not frescoed yet.
The monastery features four chapels inside its precinct and eight more outside. Within the predinct are the chapels of Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Charalambos, the Archangels and Saint George.
The treasury and the library do not feature noteworthy treasures of the past due to the numerous disasters, but today’s library is admirably organised and features modern books and periodicals related to the sciences.