This large-scale exhibition of Byzantine Art at the Tennispalatsi Art Museum in Helsinki contains treasures and sacred objects of the Greek Orthodox Church dating back for over a thousand years. The exhibition opens the door on the legendary but still living monastic community of Mount Athos and its way of life to the general public for the first time outside Greece itself.
Mount Athos is a semi-autonomous community of Orthodox monks located in Macedonia, northern Greece, about an hour and a half’s drive from the city of Thessaloniki. There are 2000 monks living there at present, belonging to 20 monasteries, the oldest of which was founded in the year 963. The history of the peninsula of Mount Athos goes back very much further than this, however, and its significance in preserving and maintaining the Byzantine culture is unrivalled. Only male pilgrims are allowed to visit the area, and then only after obtaining the necessary diamonitirion.
This unique account of the life of Mount Athos today and in the past takes the form of a collection of some 500 objects from the monasteries themselves and from 15 museums in various parts of Europe, including ancient icons, rare manuscripts, unique sacramental vessels, magnificent textiles, wood carvings and other forms of art such as jewellery, crosses, maps, photographs and paintings. These treasures tell of the everyday life of the monasteries and their living tradition that stretches back more than a thousand years.
The programme of events running alongside the exhibition provides information and stimuli for visitors of all ages and includes icon painting courses, demonstrations, workshops, concerts and lectures. A comprehensive exhibition guide will be published, describing the life and art treasures of Mount Athos.