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Iberians Monastery of Mount Athos (Agion Oros)

Iberians Monastery (third in hierarchy) is located on the northeastern side of Athos peninsula on a small cove, located approximately 1.5 hours from Karyes.

It was founded in the 8th century as a monastery of Clementos, shortly after Megali Lavra and Vatopedi.

Prominent in the royal court of Iberia, monk John Tournikios of Iberia (modern Georgia), in 980 along with a group of Georgian - Ibero- monks, derived from Megali Lavra, they expanded it and they shaped it into Lavra.

The present name was given in honor of its founders, since 1010. During the 10th and 11th century were incorporated into this many small monasteries, such as Kolovos, Prophet Elijah, Sisikos and others.
It suffered many attacks and disasters by pirates, but mainly by the Franks in 1259.
At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the monastery of Iberians was found in full economic collapse. But it recovered very quickly and, at the end of the same century, there were much more Greek monks, so that it turned into a Greek monastery.
Then, after the aid of Georgian and Romanian rulers and Ecumenical Patriarchs, it had a new heyday and during the 18th century it was already extremely wealthy.

In 1865, the entire monastery was burned and was rescued only Catholicon and the Library. But in a short time it was renovated.
The monastery of Iberians offered much in the national liberation struggle of 1821.

As a monastic complex, it is large and imposing. The entrance of Iberian monastery with the passageway is on the northern side. On the eastern part of the courtyard is Catholicon. Opposite are the large bell tower and then the temple on one side and the library building on the other.

The buildings of the courtyard are surrounded by the wards forming a quadrilateral, where are the monks' cells in levels, the administration offices, the tower, the guest house, the new Sacristy – icon - library and other auxiliary facilities.

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The monastery of Iberians has 16 chapels. In Catholicon are the two chapels with frescoes of St. Nicholas and Sts. Archangels. There, are the relics of 165 saints and segments of the tools that were used in the crucifixion of Christ. Next to the old entrance of the monastery is the chapel of Our Lady of Portaitissa with the miraculous image of Our Lady.
The frescoes of the narthex are of 1774 and depict kings and sages of antiquity. Also, in the courtyard is the chapel of Timios Baptist, built on the old church of the Abbey of Clementos. The current form dates back since 1710. The cemetery of Iberian monastery is located north of the monastery and the church is dedicated to Saint Athanasios, the patriarch of Alexandria.

The Sacristy of the Iberian monastery is housed along with the library in a separate building, located across Catholicon. It is considered one of the most remarkable on Athos Mount. There, are kept priceless treasures like the gold-stitched vestments, sacred vessels, crosses, chalices, amulets, mitres, the Episcopal outfit of Patriarch Dionysius D’, the mantle of Patriarch Gregory E’, the imperial bag of 15th century and other sacred objects and relics.
Also, there are preserved imperial and patriarchal documents, including the golden seals of Emperors Michael II Palaeologus and John VI Katakousinos.

The Library of Iberians Monastery is well organized and rich in content. It contains more than twenty thousand documents, 33 of which are archetypes and 11000 old books.
Also, it includes more than 2300 manuscripts and 14 liturgical scrolls.
Of the codes, two hundred twenty-three are typed on vellum and are in Greek and Georgian language.
The rest are made of paper and of silkworm cocoon and 68 Greek manuscripts and a Slavic are illustrated. On the new two-storey building on the south side of the monastery of Iberians there is a special room for the library.

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