On the outskirts of Mount Athos, just two kilometers east of Ouranoupoli, there is an old Byzantine monastery from the 10th century, which, according to a document from the time it was founded, seems to be even older than the first monastery of Mount Athos, Megisti Laura.

The excavation of the former Zygou Monastery of Agiorites, is located just 40 meters outside the current boundary line of Mount Athos and is known as the only Agiorite monastery visited by women.

According to the sources, the monastery already existed in 990 AD. From a document of 958, however, we conclude that this was older than the first chronological monastery of Mount Athos, the monastery of Megistis Lavra (963).

Its founder, Athanasios the Athonite, seems to have begun his ascetic life here, near his old man.

monastery of zygo

“Zygou Monastery was one of the first monasteries of the Athonian State. It was founded at the end of the tenth century and “lived” for about 200 years. Then, somewhere around 1,200, it was abandoned,” the head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Halkidiki and Mount Athos Giorgos Skiadaresis told APE-MBE.

As he explained, in the 1990s and 2000s large-scale excavation and restoration works were carried out, thanks to which the good condition in which it is preserved today is due.

monastery of zygo

“Zygou Monastery has all the basic areas of a Monastery, such as the katholikon, which is the central church, the bank, storage and laboratory areas, as well as the areas where the monks lived. All this is spread over the excavated area”, he added and noted that there are still more excavations to be done, since it has not been revealed in its entirety, but – as he said “in general we know what to expect”.

monastery of zygo

The place can be visited every day (except Tuesday) 8:30 – 15:30.