EXHIBITION ‘Women & Athos’



Curated by Vanessa R. de Obaldia (IFEA/ADIP) in collaboration with Olivier Delouis and Anne-Sophie Gabillas (MFO).
Entry to this exhibition is free and open to everyone.

The Mountain of Athos is a pan-Orthodox male monastic enclave of 33,042 hectares. Founded on the third promontory of the Chalkidiki peninsula in northeastern Greece, the self-governing republic extends into the Aegean Sea. The first historically attested monastic presence on Athos began in the early 9th century and by the mid-10th century, it had become one of the most renowned monastic centres in the Byzantine Empire. 

Athos is an exclusively male domain. All women are forbidden entry based on the principle of avaton (lit. no-go area) enforced since the 9th century, which is common to many male or female-inhabited monasteries (women not being allowed in male monasteries and vice versa).  Nonetheless, the prohibition of women’s physical presence certainly did not exclude them from exerting influence and from leaving their indelible traces upon the Holy Mountain. Women appear in legends, icons, murals, liturgy, archival documents, and their relics are also preserved within the monastic collections. 

The majestic mid-13th century monastery of Simonopetra preserves within its archival collections the Ottoman documents which are the subject of this exhibition. The focus of this exhibition is the women, named and unnamed, who appear in Simonopetra’s Monastery’s 16th-century Ottoman archival collection.