Castles of Greece


Lavra monastery, Athos

Tzimiskes Tower

or Tsimiskis Tower  
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Tzimiskes Tower
Megisti Lavra monastery, Athos mountain
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
Mount Athos
Municipality > Town:

• Lavra monastery
Elevation ≈ 162 m 
Time of Construction   Origin
11th century  
Castle Type   Condition
Relatively Good

A tower at the SW corner of the fortified wall of the monastery of Agia Lavra in Athos mountain.
It was constructed in two phases. The first was in the 10th century and the second major phase in 1522.


The monastery was founded by the reformer of Athonite monasticism St Athanasios around 963, with money provided by the emperor Nicephoros Phocas. It stands first in the hierarchy of Athonite monasteries and is one of the largest complex of buildings on Mount Athos. The core of the katholikon was built by the saint around the year 1000. The church is dedicated to the Annunciation and its feast day on 5 July is celebrated in memory of St Athanasios, whose tomb is in the chapel of the Forty Martyrs. The wall-paintings in the katholikon are by Theophanes the Cretan (1535), and those in the chapel of St. Nicholas by Frangos Catelanos (1560).

The fortification of the monastery, from the entrance until the middle of the southern side remains the same since the 11th century. Part of this is the imposing tower of Tzimiskes. It was named, obviously, after the Byzantine emperor John I Tzimiskes (or Tsimiskis) who was one of its first supporters and sponsors. Besides the financial support, the emperor issued in 972 the Tragos which was the founding document and the first constitution of the monastic state of Athos.

The tower was first built in the 11th century. It has 4 floors and is 24m high. It was renovated several times, in 1325, in 1522 (when the top floor was added) and finally in 1688.


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