Natural environment

Natural environment

Set in a peaceful landscape of outstanding beauty, the Monastery manifests a wonderful harmony with nature, making it a tranquil refuge which lends itself to spiritual contemplation and holy exaltation.

Αρχική σελίδαNatural environment

The protected Natura area of Mount Athos, which is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites with a unique ecosystem, is one of the very few remaining isolated regions on the planet, far removed from pollution and from human intervention for over 1000 years.

The Monastery of Vatopedi occupies part of the middle section of the northern coast of Mount Athos, and covers approximately 43 square kms. To the north it is washed by the Strymonian Gulf, to the east it shares a border with Pantocratoros Monastery, south-east with Xenophontos Monastery, south with the Monasteries of Konstamonitou and Docheiariou, and north-west with Esfigmenou Monastery.

The varied terrain is mostly hilly or upland, the highest point being 650 metres. The coast is rocky, apart from the belt of land around the small inlet in the centre of the north side of the area. The Monastery buildings stand on an elevation on the eastern side of this inlet. The entire region is criss-crossed by forestry roads, paths and cobbled ways which connect the Monastery with Karyes, with the neighbouring Monasteries, and with its outlying dependencies. There is also an extensive water network which brings water from the mountain springs to the Monastery and the kellia.

The land around Vatopedi Monastery is one of the most fertile on Mount Athos. Its flora includes most of the 1471 species that are found on the Holy Mountain. The higher zones (over 500 metres) are covered with forests of chestnut and broad-leaved oak, which are logged. In the lower and coastal zones (below 500 metres) grow perennial and broad-leaved trees and shrubs, while some of the land adjacent to the Monastery is under cultivation. The Athonite land around Vatopedi Monastery has been cultivated since Byzantine times and is planted with crops that are essential for religious worship and for the monks' daily food (wheat, oil, wine, vegetables, fruit etc.).

The fauna on Mount Athos is one of the most extensive in Greece. While the various species it comprises are not particularly rare in the Mediterranean, the stability and size of the populations on Athos are remarkable.

The climatic conditions in the area of Vatopedi Monastery are the same as those of the lower zones of Mount Athos. Up to a height of approximately 450 metres the climate is Mediterranean, temperate and relatively dry. By contrast, the higher uplands of the Monastery are colder and damper, with more rain and snow in winter. The entire area is exposed to the strong north and north-east winds, but the generally low-lying terrain and its distance from the highest mountains of Athos protect it from extreme weather.

The buildings immediately surrounding the Monastery make up one of the most impressive and largest groups of monastery outbuildings on Mount Athos. They include the workshops of the Monastery, which are the most technologically advanced on Athos and, in some cases, of imposing dimensions.

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