Founded: 972-985 A.D.
Founder: Athanasios, Nikolaos, Antonios
Feast-day: 25th of March
Library: Byzantine and post-Byzantine manuscripts
Collection: Icons, Painted masterpieces
The Abbey of Vatopedi appears with rich buildings on the NE coast of the peninsula, on the most eastern side. When looking at it from the sea, the fish huts, the tarsana, the warehouses, and the walled sea front gardens all stretching out in front, it gives the impression of a small city or of a big castle, that overflowed into the coast. Also the fruit and the olive trees, the waterfalls, the water mills, the laboratories and workers huts add to this marvel. Its name is usually associated with the determinations, "Lavra", "big" the "biggest abbey".
The title 'founder' that has been awarded to the emperor Theodosia the Great, during the middle of the 4th century, as a result of a myth. According to historical traditions though, founders were three sovereigns from Adrianoupolis, Athanassios, Nikolaos and Antonios. And according to two older documents (985 and 1016) its first abbot Nikolaos was the one from the three.
Very fast after its foundation it reached a fairly high position, but only after 1366, it permanently takes on without any dispute, the second place in the hierarchy. Komninos also being very interested himself, assisted the monastery when needed.
In the mid 12th century, two formalities of the royal Serbian house with the solitary names Savas and Simeon, arrived and lived in the abbey: They were Rastko and Stefanos Nemania, son and father, founders then of the Abbey Helandariou and leading Saints of the Serbian church. Sources of the 13th century (2nd half) result in that the Abbey suffered big destructions from western invaders, during the Frago Occupation, and only after the sponsoring of Byzantine kings could it be restored.
Also remarkable is the caring by Zervon sovereigns, such as Stefanos Dusan in the mid 14th century, which continued in to the 15th. The solitary life that was exercised in the Abbey Helandariou had not been forgotten. This is why this monastery is considered to have been the first Abbey that imported the idiorythmic way of life (mid 14th century). After transformations in the 17th century though, it remained a way of life up to fairly recent. In 1989 however this abbey also reverted to the cenobitic way.
In the current architectural form of the Abbey's grounds, strengthened with powerful towers, encompass a comfortable courtyard, where you would find, apart from the catholic and opposite that the dining room, the oldest dated bell tower on Mount Athos (1426), two wall painted chapels and various other buildings.
From the many icons this Abbey possesses, very well known are the icons of the Virgin Mary with the title: "Eleovritis ", "Ktitorisa", "Vimatarissa", as well as the wall paintings of: "Tales", "Antifonitria" and "Esfagmeni". The abbey also has many other precious other heirlooms.