-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florin Alexandru Stancu
special guest (last picture) Valentin Grigore-

Let’s fly to that sacred place!
Let’s begin with Ouranopoli,
The City of the Heavens,
And further… we’ll see!

Uranopolis or Ouranopoli (City of the Heavens)
was founded in the 4th century BC on the shore of the Aegean Sea.

Its main attraction is a Byzantine tower
made in the 13th century.

Today this tower appears as a border between
the City of the Heavens
and something even higher.

Beyond the City of the Heavens we can find the Athos Peninsula,
adorned by the sacred mountain with the same name,
visited in the past by Saint Mary
and inhabited by monks since the 8th century.

Today this peninsula hosts a unique monastic republic in Greece,
consisting of 20 Christian Orthodox monasteries
(16 of them being Greek,
and the rest of 4 being Bulgarian, Serbian, Russian and Georgian)
and 12 sketae
(9 of them being Greek, 2 being Romanian, and 1 being Russian).

Unfortunately, too few people know or are interested that,
after the Fall of Constantinople under the Ottoman Empire (1453),
the Athos community was saved by the Romanian “voievod” and “domnitor”
Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great),
who paid an important tribute to the Porte
for ensuring the continuity of the activities
in this unique peninsula.

After him,
many other Romanians made impressive donations to Mount Athos
just from belief and generosity,
because they never claimed a Romanian monastery over there.

Since the access to the Athos Peninsula depends on a special passport,
in June 2013 I preferred to enjoy part of this amazing place
(ennobled by chosen people)
from a cruise liner.

Finally Mount Athos made me think of a parallel
with a sacred mountain of astronomy,
Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma, Canary Islands,
where there is another kind of unofficial republic,
consisting of astronomers and telescopes
from more European (and even American) countries.

That’s why I believe that “a giant leap for mankind”
would be
the making of an astronomical observatory on Mount Athos
and the making of a monastery on Roque de los Muchachos.


© 2014 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)