Abkhazia: New Athos Monastery
New Athos Monastery is a monastery in the city of New Athos, located in the unrecognized country of Abkhazia. It was founded in 1875 by monks who came from the St. Panteleimon Monastery in Mount Athos, Greece.
They founded the church of St. Panteleimon on Mount Iveria, on the territory of present New Athos, Abkhazia.
The interior of the church is covered entirely with extremely beautiful mural decoration.
The monastery is currently used by the Abkhazian Orthodox Church and under de facto control of the Republic of Abkhazia.
History of the New Athos Monastery
In 1874, Russian monks from the Rossikon Monastery on Mount Athos, Greece arrived to the Caucasus in order to find a place for possible resettlement.
At the time, the monks feared that the Ottoman Empire would oust the Russians from Mount Athos, after the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War - which finally broke out in 1877.
In 1924, during the Soviet persecution of religion, the monastery was closed by the Soviet authorities. During its late years, it was used as a storage facility, tourist base, hospital and museum, in addition to other things.
Its return to the Orthodox Church began in 1994, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Abkhazia War, which broke out shortly afterwards.
The incredible scenic setting of the New Athos Monastery, situated in the Caucasus Mountains and by the Black Sea, has made it a popular destination for Russian tourists visiting Abkhazia.
How to Visit Abkhazia
Visiting New Athos is quite straightforward. Tourists first need to decide how they would like to enter Abkhazia. In this case, both Russia and Georgia have operating borders with the Republic of Abkhazia - although both have very different rules and restrictions.
Tourists who decide to visit from Russia must first understand if they need a Russian Visa to enter the territory of the Russian Federation. Once a multiple-entry Visa is obtained (tourists will need to exit Russia in order to enter Abkhazia), tourists can receive an Abkhaz Visa in order to visit the New Athos Monastery.
Entering from Georgia is quite different than entering from Russia. Most tourists will not need a Visa to enter Georgia and can proceed straight to the Abkhaz Visa.
Since Georgia does not recognize Abkhazia as an independent state (it recognized it as part of Georgia) no official exit from Georgia takes place. As such, upon return from Abkhazia, it is imperative that no evidence is shown in your passport of entering Abkhazia, such as an Abkhaz Visa.
In addition, the Abkhaz authorities have been known to close the crossing with Georgia without any prior notice, making it more difficult for tourists to make advanced plans to enter Abkhazia through Georgia.
Refer to our article on obtaining an Abkhaz Visa for more information.
When joining a tour to Abkhazia with Political Holidays, the New Athos Monastery can easily be added to any itinerary!