Fortified Enclosure and Farmland: Lavra from the Pyrga
The stone walls and towers of the Great Lavra, the first, extant cenobitic monastery founded on Mt. Athos in 963, overlook the ocean and surrounding monastic lands. This commanding view is taken from the pyrga or fortified tower at the north end of the complex. Initially erected as protection against invading outsiders, the Lavra’s fortifications also visually symbolize monastic enclosure and separation from the world. Over time, cells and chapels have been built into the walls as refuges for solitary contemplation. Outside the walls, the carefully organized rows of crops cultivated by the monks contrast starkly with the neighboring wilderness of the forests.