Getting to Zographou in the twelfth century

How did people travel before Google? Here is a little sketch from a twelfth century Menologion by Symeon Metaphrastes, now in the National Library of Greece (No. 2534, fol. 267r). The image has three short inscriptions, one around the top of Mount Athos, another above the monastery of Zographou, and another one saying “Vigla”—the medieval Greek word for watchmen’s post (from Latin vigilia), most likely today’s Megali Vigla in the hills beyond Ouranoupolis. The scribe was careful not to forget the small island of Ammouliani, another islet next to it (today’s Pena/Artemis), and a little ship to mark the dock of the monastery.

The only problem with the image, however, is that it is actually showing the wrong side of the peninsula. Both Zographou and Vigla (and the islets too) are on the western side, so this would take the traveler to Esphigmenou instead. Apart from that minor drawback, a beautiful map!

Ath. EBE 2534.267r

Once you pass Vigla, just ask…


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