Simonopetra’s Intervention / Management plan


The present Comprehensive Project Plan (CPP) of the Sacred Monastery of Simonos Petras, for the next decade, is part of the effort to deal with the Athonite State, the unique for the entire world historical, cultural and spiritual center, comprehensively, spherically and consistently.

The CPP aims at preserving, enhancing and showcasing the rich spiritual and cultural heritage of Simonopetra, as well as the entire spectrum of operations and activities in conjunction with the creation of suitable conditions availing the place to Greek and foreign visitors and pilgrims.

This paper is a technical rendition, by Planet S.A., of a similar issue by Simonopetra. It was based on on-site and distant cooperation of the firm with the pertinent staff of Simonopetra, with outside collaborators; it also utilized material (technical reports, studies, plans and photographs) available from the Monastery’s archives.

The main part of this CCP, includes specifications for definitive actions pursuant to resolving / managing the needs of Simonopetra, taking into consideration the present situation pertaining to the existing infrastructure, the activities, the human and material resources, the short- and medium-term needs of Simonopetra in discriminated intervention categories, and pertinent priorities.

Executive Summary

Simonopetra has developed a ” Comprehensive Project Plan (CPP) for the next decade“, i.e., a Master Plan for the actions / works that must be executed in the course of the decade following, in order to maintain its cultural and natural heritage. The CPP aspires to be a strategic tool, for the orientation of the Monastery’s staff, toward the detailed definition of management decisions and actions required to effectively resolve such needs. While the CPP is a stable frame within which the necessary interventions may be approached, on a tactical basis, it warrants, at the same time, the flexibility that would permit its adaptation to developing, case-by-case, conditions (e.g., establishing priorities per available financing).

The CPP is divided in five intervention sectors, comprising of 26 projects, of an estimated total value of €28 750 000. These five sectors are:

I. Protection, Rehabilitation, Showcasing of the Architectural Heritage.

II. Protection and Showcasing of material relics

III. Viable Management of the Eco-System and Protection against Natural Disasters.

IV. Production, Consumption and saving of Electricity.

V. Productive Utilization of Natural Assets.

With respect to searching for and mapping of the main financing sources such are distinguished in two categories:

Financing from public sources: Which is minimal due to the economic crisis in Greece the last 10 years.

Financing from private sources: Individuals or charity institutions and firms with meaningful corporate social responsibility policies. Searching for such may be per two main alternate approaches:

  • approach Foundations and Corporations on an individual basis.
  • approach institutions which represent, collectively, corporations that might be able to support publicizing / sensitizing actions toward potential donors.

Simonopetra’s Comprehensive 10 year Project Plan

The CPP aims at the preservation, the enhancement and the showcasing of the rich spiritual and cultural heritage of the S.M. of Simonos Petras as well as, the entire spectrum of its operations and activities in general.

The Plan has been compiled based on the following principles:

  1. The prominent ecumenical importance of the Holy Mountain which is founded upon the values of monastic life and the institutional net that protects the “Garden of the AllHoly”, factors that must govern the evaluation and the proposals pertaining to the management of the Monastery in their entirety.
  2. The maintenance, safekeeping and showcasing of the Monastery’s cultural treasures.
  3. The rehabilitation and showcasing of the Monastery’s architectural wealth in parallel with careful interventions assuring the scientifically documented maintenance and rehabilitation of the building infrastructure.
  4. The protection of the landscape and the preservation of the structure and composition of the forests and other ecosystems, as well as the enhancement of the biological diversity of the region.
  5. The implementation of the principles of sustainability and optimization, in and for, suitable management methods for the exploitation of the forest, so that the satisfaction of the needs of ascetic life be perennially served (a traditional method of lumbering and sustainable systematic cultivation is already deployed).
  6. The eco-friendly management of water, energy and regional resources as well as liquid and solid waste.
  7. The organization of the technical infrastructure so that it cover sufficiently the needs of monks, visitors and laborers, always within the frame of monastic ascetic practice, such being a constituent sector of the spiritual heritage of the Mountain; also providing efficient protection against the dangers, and consequences thereof, from natural disasters.
  8. The management of the arrival and sojourn of pilgrims in accordance with the traditions and principles of the monastic community, over the centuries, also taking into account the current conditions.

Specifically, the CPP focuses on five (5) separate sectors:

Ι. Protection, Rehabilitation and Showcasing of the Architectural Heritage

It includes the systematic recording of recently completed and currently active maintenance and rehabilitation projects. Studies on and execution of projects related to the rehabilitation and re-use of buildings as well as the construction of absolutely necessary new facilities.

II. Protection and Showcasing of relic and heirloom treasures

It relates to the maintenance, the safe-keeping and the showcasing / exhibition of the cultural treasures of the Monastery; also including common remnants of its millennium long presence at this place.

ΙΙΙ. Viable Management of the Ecosystem and Protection against Natural Disasters

It relates to the establishment of guidelines for the optimization of the ecosystem management methods, the preparation of specific studies and execution of projects and works within the frame of protection and preservation of the human and environmental conditions resources and elements that are necessary for the survival of the flora and fauna species as well as for the ascetic way of living of monastic community.

It also pertains to the designation / marking of land uses, the traffic and movement of visitors and vehicles and the spatial organization of productive activities.

Finally, the current measures and systems for the prevention, tracing and fighting of fires, floods and erosion incidents are scrutinized and evaluated; also, the necessary studies, the purchase of equipment and the execution of projects to handle efficiently fire and flood incidents, are being carried out.

IV. Production, Consumption and Saving of Electric Energy

It relates to the recording of existing power sources, (conventional and renewable), the establishment of goals for the required power supply and the carrying out of studies for the optimization of such existing sources; as well as, the development of alternative sources, aiming at the Monastery’s power self-sufficiency from renewable sources.

V. Productive Exploitation of Natural Assets

It relates to the enhancement and development of Simonopetra’s natural assets, the improvement and augmentation of the productiοn potential of its natural resources so that current food needs be met; and, so that income alternatives be reinforced in order to meet operational expenses.

The Plan includes 26 projects with a budget adding up to €28.750.000,00, distributed among the individual sectors as follows:

No. Sector of Intervention Total Budget
I Protection, Rehabilitation, Showcasing of the Architectural Heritage €15.600.000,00
II Protection and Showcasing of the Treasured Relics / Heirlooms €1.600.000,00
III Sustainable Ecosystem Management and Protection against Natural Disasters €9.300.000,00
IV Production, Consumption, Saving of Electrical And Thermal Energy €1.050.000,00
V Productive Utilization of Natural Assets €1.200.000,00

Taking into consideration the great number of projects included in the CPP, priorities are assigned to facilitate the selection of projects to be prioritized over others, given the resources (human, financial and material) required for their execution.

Specifically all projects were graded based on two criteria:

  • the level of importance and
  • the stage of maturity.

both on an 1 to 5 scale as per the following table.

Value Mark Level of Importance Level of Maturity: Design / Execution
5 Very High Legally bound
4 High Approved final design / detailed action plan and bidding documentation
3 Medium Approved final design / detailed action plan
2 Low Final design / detailed action plan pending approval
1 Very Low No final design nor detailed action plan

The table following shows the individual projects included in the CPP, the pertinent intervention sector, the priority within the sector and an (indicative) budget for each.

  Title / Description of Project Level of Importance (1) Level of Maturity (2) Rating = (1)*(2) (Indicative) Budget
Ι Protection, rehabilitation, showcasing of the architectural heritage

Phase A

  • Repair / restoration of the church of All Saints
  • Rehabilitation / conversion of the traditional Simonopetra’s Overseer’s House Papayiannis Building, to be used for pilgrim accommodation.
  • Rehabilitation / conversion of the lumber storage shed to be used for / as VIP accommodation, restaurant and presentation hall.
  • Restoration of the adjacent surrounding area.
5,0 3,0 15,0 €3.500.000,00

Phase B

  • Relocation of the lumber processing facility – Expansion – Equipment for the manufacturing unit – Lumber Drying Facility.
  • Construction of a new sawmill.
  • Creation of suitable space and purchase of equipment for the production and storage of raw material and wood chips.
  • Construction of the laborers’ building.
  • Construction of general storage facilities.
  • Water supply infrastructure, Renewable Energy Sources.
5,0 2,0 10,0 €2.500.000,00

Phase C

  • Conversion of the old sawmill for use as hosting premises.
  • Conversion of remaining infrastructure such as the Daphne Overseer’s House as well as of the existing lumber Laborers’ Building into a hostel and spaces for the exhibition of Hagiorite collections (photographs, copper embossing, maps, wood carvings, art, etc.).
  • Restoration of the adjacent surrounding area.
  • Infrastructure Projects (water, power supplies) for the Hosting Facilities of the Daphne Complex.
5,0 1,0 5,0 €3.200.000,00
2 Anti-erosion works on the slopes of Simonopetra in the “Annunciation of the Mother of God” cell at the site “Adein” in Karyes (1st phase) 5,0 1,0 5,0 €500.000,00
3a Rehabilitation – Maintenance of the NW wing and the Cathedral – Anti-erosion protection of the yards around the Cathedral, the hospital and the passage in the Simonopetra complex 5,0 1,0 5,0 €500.000,00
3b Anti-erosion protection of the west and the north castle walls in the Simonopetra complex 4,0 1,0 4,0 €250.000,00
4 Rehabilitation of the forest management building at Simonopetra’s site “St Demetrios” 4,0 1,0 4,0 €350.000,00
5 Rehabilitation, expansion and conversion of the old olive press into a facility for the maintenance, exhibition and showcasing of collections of Hagiorite (Holy Mountain) and folk art 3,0 1,0 3,0 €1.500.000,00
6 Rehabiltation of the old laboratory and auxiliary buildings for wine and raki production in the Dontas cell of Simonopetra’s – Construction of a facility for the keeping and exhibition of agricultural tools and such 3,0 1,0 3,0 €1.000.000,00
7 Maintenance of the old Simonopetra’s waterfront tower and pier and conversion into a facility / museum for the archives etc relating to the postal and maritime history 3,0 1,0 3,0 €500.000,00
8 Rehabilitation of auxiliary buildings at Simonopetra’s pier and conversion into a facility / museum for the archives etc relating to the postal and maritime history 3,0 1,0 3,0 €1.500.000,00
9 Rehabilitation of the burnt down cell of St Savvas 3,0 1,0 3,0 €300.000,00
ΙΙ Protection and Showcasing of Simonopetra’s Treasured Relics / Heirlooms
10 Protection and Showcasing of Simonopetra’s Treasured Relics / Heirlooms
a) Record, document and digitize of historical items (3rd phase)
b) Maintenance and showcasing of historical records, relics and heirlooms
c) Record, document and digitize items relating to daily living (2nd phase)
d) Equip the premises for safekeeping of the treasured relics and heirlooms
Research and study, publish and showcase the treasured relics and heirlooms
4,0 1,0 4,0 €1.500.000,00
11 Improvements on the Safety and Operation relating to web communications consistent with the monastic tradition 3,0 1,0 3,0 €100.000,00
ΙΙΙ Viable Management of the Eco-System and Protection against Natural Disasters
12 Rebuilding and operational improvement on the fire protection system of Simonopetra including the water dam 5,0 3,0 12,0 €1.500.000,00
13a Water Resource Management plan (3 phases)
Phase A

Improvement of existing spring exploitation system:
  • Construct a traditional byzantine type of spring collection system (40 points).
  • Define protection zones of the springs.
  • Construct faucets in the forest for the monks and the visitors.
  • Establish watering points for wild animals.
  • Continue the monitoring of the spring water quality and quantity.
5,0 2,0 10,0 €600.000,00
13b Phase B
Improvement/construction pipeline networks and water supply network for domestic and farming activities:
  • Upgrade the main pipeline to transfer spring water from Oxies (2.4 Km) spring to the Monastery water cisterns. (Pipeline with Green color in the map)
  • Construct a pipeline (2.5 Km) to transfer water form Mpouzntoumi springs to the Monastery water cisterns. (Pipeline with Red color in the map)
  • Upgrade and expand the pipelines (6.4 Km) to transfer spring water from Dontas springs to Dafni water cistern. (Pipeline with Orange color in the map)
  • Upgrade the pipeline (1.2 Km) to Agios Dimitrios farm. (Pipeline with Yellow color in the map)
5,0 2,0 10,0 €2.600.000,00
13c Phase C
Infrastructure works necessary for the storage of safely sufficient water:
  • Build an 1000 m3 water cistern at the site “Paleopriono”
  • Build a 500 m3 water cistern at the site “Diastavrosi”
  • Build a 200 m3 water cistern at the site “Aghios Demetrios”
5,0 1,0 5,0 €1.500.000,00
14 Improvement and construction of various civil works on the road from Simonopetra complex to Daphne 5,0 2,0 5,0 €900.000,00
15 Improvement of road network around Simonopetra – Projects for safety and marking (signs) 5,0 2,0 10,0 €1.850.000,00
16 Purchase equipment and machinery 4,0 1,0 4,0 €350.000,00
IV Production, Consumption, Saving of Electrical And Thermal Energy
17 Updating the Hydroelectric Station 5,0 1,0 5,0 €400.000,00
18 Expanding the Photovoltaic Station, 50KW 4,0 1,0 4,0 €200.000,00
19 Supporting and maintaining of the Renewable Energy Sources 4,0 1,0 3,0 €250.000,00
20 Refurbishing and expanding the sheds of the Simonopetra’s Renewable Energy Sources support installations 2,0 1,0 2,0 €200.000,00
V Productive Utilization of Natural Assets
21 Restore the old Simonopetra’s olive-orchards 5,0 1,0 5,0 €200.000,00
22 Build an olive processing mill (olive-press) in Simonopetra 5,0 1,0 5,0 €300.000,00
23 Build a packaging / standardization unit for olive, olive oil and secondary products 5,0 1,0 5,0 €100.000,00
24 Modernization and improvement of Simonopetra’s distillery/winery/bottling plant at the Cell of Dontas 4,0 1,0 4,0 €200.000,00
25 Updating and expanding the farming and apiculture practices 4,0 1,0 4,0 €300.000,00
26 Equipping a small micro-woodcarving and artifactmaking workshop 4,0 1,0 2,0 €100.000,00

Existing Situation – Current Challenges

The Holy Mountain, being a place of particular spiritual, cultural and ecological significance, attracts pilgrims, scientists and researchers from all over the world. This human pressure causes various problems to start appearing, on top of the already existing ones, namely the need to maintain and preserve the buildings and relics.

In this splendid region, one burdened by its history and life over the centuries, the need for comprehensive planning of mature and responsible interventions is created; such to warrant its effective resistance to time and its best possible protection and preservation. Monastic living and the liturgical life thereof, today, continue in communion with God, while the productive activity carries on as a dialog with nature, in respect of and for the management of the built creation and the Creator.

The area of the Sacred Monastery, and the Holy Mountain in general, in geo-physical, physiognomic and even operational terms, is a combination of a particularly mountainous remote region lacking in basic infrastructure and an island lacking in tourist development (in the sense of accommodating mass tourism) largely dependent upon the progress of forest, farming and fishing activities. The main man-generated activities in the area are farming, to cover the food needs of monks and pilgrims, forestry and rehabilitation projects.

Specifically, the most important effects and activities in Simonopetra’s area can be placed in five categories:

  1. Construction (building) activities to satisfy residential, operational and storage needs.
  2. Farming to cover food needs.
  3. Forestry activities related to the exploitation of the natural assets.
  4. Sustainable water resources management.
  5. Creation of a road network both to connect the Monasteries with the scetes (cloisters) and the cells and to transport the farming

The construction activities pertain mainly to the maintenance, renovation and rehabilitation of old buildings, some of which are deeply marked by the wear of time and, more rarely, to the erection of new buildings. The materials that have been and are being used even in rehabilitation works are stone, wood, slates and flag stones and bricks with respect, stemming from the monastic rules and the orthodox faith, toward the environment and the aesthetics of the place.

Farming activities aim at satisfying, fully or in part, the food needs of the monks and the visitors. Rarely farming aims at producing some income. The main farming types are:

Gardens: They satisfy to a substantial extent the food needs of the monks and the visitors in vegetables; however, despite the deployment, in many cases, of modern collecting and freezing techniques, vegetable production does not suffice.

Gardens have been constructed, in areas with substantial gradients around the Monastery and the building, or on «parapets» harmoniously blending with the environment and the Monastery’s buildings.

Olive groves: Olives and olive oil are basic elements in the monks’ diet thus olive groves are the most abundant cultivation sector. Many such groves had been abandoned after the war, due to water shortage and returned to semi-wild natural status, consisting of wild olive trees, and fruitless olive and kermes oak shrubs. Today the Monastery’s olive groves comprise of 1000 olive trees producing, annually, about 500 kgs of olive oil (or 2.5 tons of olives). Additionally, the Monastery’s area, contains 12000 roots of burnt-down, by the catastrophic fire of 1990, olive trees, now, mostly in wild form. These numerous roots are potentially, a productive resource, currently “in hibernation”. The main types of olive trees are those of Chalkidiki (stone olives) and Thasos.

Vineyards: Viniculture is the third, after vegetable gardening and olive cropping, basic farming activity due to the fact that wine is used both in the divine worship, as well as in the monks’ diet. The Monastery’s vineyards are located mostly at the cell of St Nicholas, also known as the “Dontas Dependency”. These vineyards produce several varieties of grapes, both table grapes and grapes for wine production, the well-known Dontas Wines. The vineyards cover an area of 12000 square meters and the vine varieties grown there include the Victoria, Cardinal. Hamburg Moschato, Rozaki and Rimbier varieties, for the table grapes, and Merlot, Limnio and Asyrtiko for the wine grapes. All such varieties are cultivated per biological (organic) methods. The annual production comes to 2 tons of table grapes and about 6 tons of wine grapes. The total wine production amounts to 2 to 2.5 tons; of such about 1200 liters are bottled in the Monastery’s Winery. The remainder is consumed by the Monastery and its dependency the Convent of Ormylia. In addition to the wine, a small quantity of tsipouro (a Greek multiplydistilled liquor) is also produced.

Fruit Orchards: Fruit –such as apple, pear, cherry, peach, lemon, orange, apricot and walnut– trees are usually cultivated on the edgings of the vegetable gardens of in relatively small plots; the fruit thereof augments, seasonally, the diet of monks and visitors.

Simonopetra’s forest spreads on the NW slopes of the Holy Mountain between the great streams of Dontas and that of the Gregoriou pit. It borders on:


On the Northwest with the forest of the Sacred Monastery of Xeropotamou.

On the Northeast with the forest of the Sacred Monasteries of Iveron and Philotheou

On the Southeast with the forest of the Sacred Monastery of St Gregory

On the Southwest it is on the coast of the Siggitikos Gulf.


The total area within the borders defined above is 12950 stremmata (I stremma= 1000 sq.m.) and it is distinguished in various land usage types as shown on the map that follows and as described in the pertinent table

TABLE: Simonopetra’s land categorization per soil / vegetation type

Land Types

Area (in stremmata; 1 stremma = 1000 sq.m.)

Percent of total

Forest-covered Area



Bush-covered Area



Farming Area



Bare / Infertile Area






Logging: It is carried out per a rolling ten-year forest management plan, compiled and updated by Simonopetra; such aiming at the rational and sustainable exploitation of the forest(s). It is factually accomplished by pertinent time-and-space based segmentation. The so-designed logging warrants the growth of the forest(s), both in height and volume, and the enhancement of the overall wood product quality. Logging is carried out without the use of heavy machinery and the procedures deployed are designed as to not cause grave changes / disturbances in this renewable natural resource.

The exploitation of the forest relates to species such as beech, fir, oak, but, it comprises, primarily, of clusters of chestnut trees for the production of useful (structural) timber as well as of firewood (excepting fir and including the evergreen broadleaf trees).

The percentage of structural wood vis-a-vis that of the firewood is increasing continuously as a result of the systematic cultivation of the clusters and the absence of illegal lumbering and animal grazing.

The Monastery’s forest produces, annually, 550 cubic meters of structural wood and 250 meters of round lumber, as well as 3500 tons of firewood, of which 1500 tons are used by the Monastery and the Dependency (Convent) of Ormylia, the remainder, approximately, 2000 being available for marketing.

Such marketable timber is primarily sold in Thessaloniki and other big towns, while the chiseled structural wood is even ordered and shipped to the Kyklades Islands. Part of the useful (structural) wood is availed to local sawmills and furniture makers.

The Monastery has one sawmill and two large storage facilities at Daphne, the Port of the Holy Mountain; additionally it has a second lumber processing installation at the site “Touvlario” of the Monastery. Furthermore, the Monastery disposes of portable mechanical equipment for the processing of wood products and animals (mules) for loading and moving timber.

Woodcarving: In addition to the aforementioned traditional lumber products, the Monastery and the Holy Mountain, more generally, have fostered over the centuries woodcarving, i.e., the art of depicting, on special wood and in relief, persons, objects or sketches. Woοdcarving is an indispensable part of the long traditional cultural and religious heritage of both the Holy Mountain and the greater Greek area; it has applications in / for the:

decoration of practical objects such as utensils and handicraft tools,
decoration of furniture and articles of woodcraft,
crafting of wood art, such as decorative relief articles, church iconostases, etc. § decoration of buildings.

Apiculture (Beekeeping): The monastery currently has 25 beehives and intends to more than double them shortly. The beehives are used exclusively to produce honey. The honey production comes up to 400 to 500 kg (based on an assumed annual production of 15 – 20 kg per beehive. The beehives are moved twice once to the north part of the Holy Mountain for the production of honey from bees feeding on pine trees amd once to the site named “Stavros” (= Cross) of the Monastery for the honey coming from bees feeding on brier and chestnut trees. The production of teil tree (basswood) flowers (of the Tilia gender, mainly Tilia cordata and Tilia platyphyllos), may be included in the secondary forest products with significance in apiculture .

Floriculture – Αromatic plants: A wide variety of aromatic plants / herbs grow within Simonopetra’s forest; such have been traditionally used for their therapeutic and aromatic characteristics. Herbs such as Greek mountain tea (sideritis), oregano, marjoram, basιl, spearmint, sage, rosemary and mint – some of which grow in wild form – can be cultivated by organic methods, thus affording the comparative advantage of exploiting poor mountainous and semi-mountainous regions. Currently, the Monastery cultivates various herbs on one stremma of land, plus oregano on another half a stremma.

Recently, the Monastery started the cultivation of echinacea (actually the Echinacea purpurea species traditionally used in folk medicine) a vivacious plant grown in the fields of Western America and cultivated in Europe.


A basic road network has been built to connect Daphne, the port of the Holy Mountain, with most of the monasteries and its capital, Karyes; such serving the communication and transportation of monks and laborers, as well as of materials needed for the maintenance and rehabilitation of the buildings and of goods produced. Daphne is within Simonopetra’s borders and at a distance of approximately 10 km NE of the Monastery. Simonopetra’s main road network connects to one of the main roads of the Holy Mountain, that of the mountain’s ridge that starts from the Monastery of Vatopedi and reaches the foot of Antiathos

In addition to the basic road network, the Monastery has built a good number of forest roads serving the movement of forest workers and the transportation of forest products (secondary forest road network). A significant reason to built the secondary forest network has been the increase of fire occurrences especially after the big forest fire of 1990