Evidence of foreign travellers visiting Mount Athos first appears in the early 15th century and, as a phenomenon, travels on Athos witnessed a sharp increase during the 19th century and early years of the 20th century. These travels were very often carried out with a special purpose (mainly the collection of manuscripts) or in order to satisfy the travellers’ curiosity or personal concerns or provide answers to their spiritual quests. The scientific papers presented at the conference dealt mainly with how the Athonite monuments (katholika and other building complexes), the artistic treasures and the libraries were viewed by the foreign travellers and also by Orthodox visitors, with their different perspective. There were also a number of presentations on the cartographic and photographic representations of Athos.
Over the two days of the conference, the phenomenon of foreign travel was explored in depth, together with the particular expressions of this phenomenon on Mount Athos and the motives of the travellers, pilgrims and other visitors who have visited Athos over the course of the last five centuries. A number of extremely interesting facts were noted from publications of travellers’ accounts found in a variety of journals, archives and institutions in Greece and abroad which were presented to the general public for the first time.
The opening ceremony was held on Saturday 15 December 2007 in the Conference Hall of the Thessaloniki Municipal Library. Addresses were given by the Ecumenical Patriarch, His All-Holiness Bartholomew, and the representative of the Holy Community, while the conference proceedings were officially inaugurated by the President of the Board of Directors of the Mount Athos Center, Mr Vasilis Papageorgopoulos, the Mayor of Thessaloniki.
After the initial addresses, papers were presented by Ioli Vingopoulou, researcher at the Institute of Historical Research at the Hellenic National Research Foundation (‘The Greek world as seen by foreign travellers: 15th to 20th centuries’), René R. Gothóni, Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of Helsinki and an expert on monasticism and religious tourism (‘Understanding pilgrimage to Mount Athos’), and Antonios-Emilios Tachiaos, Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Corresponding Member of the Academy of Athens (‘Russian Travellers’).
Date: 15-17 December 2007
Venue: Conference Hall of the Thessaloniki Municipal Library
Conference programme: click here
Conference Scientific Committee
Antonios-Emilios Tachiaos, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Theology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Corresponding Member, Academy of Athens
Ioli Vingopoulou, researcher, Institute of Historical Research, Hellenic National Research Foundation
Mirka Palioura, Art Historian
Paschalis Androudis, Doctor of Archaeology
Organisation of conference
Director: Demetrios Salpistis
Secretarial support: Anastasios Douros, Evangelos Tsikouras
Technical support: Costas Tachtsidis
Five Centuries of Travels and Pilgrimages to Mount Athos: 1405-1930 (November 2007 – January 2008)