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Things to do in New Athos
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New Athos


New Athos or Akhali Atoni, is a town in the Gudauta raion of Abkhazia, situated some 22 km (14 mi) from Sukhumi by the shores of the Black Sea. The town was previously known under the names Nikopol, Acheisos, Anakopia, Nikopia, Nikofia, Nikopsis, Absara, and Psyrtskha.

New Athos Cave is one of Abkhazia's tourist attractions.

A large ancient Greek port town of Anacopia was recorded there in the 3rd century. Its ruins are still visible. In the 5th century, Georgians built a fortress on the top of the Iverian Mountain. Anacopia was the capital of the Abkhazian princedom in the orbit of the Byzantine Empire and then of the Abkhazian Kingdom after the archon Leon II declared himself a king in the late 8th century. Later, the capital was moved to Kutaisi.

Anacopia was ceded to Byzantine Empire by Demetre in 1033 but was retaken by Georgians in 1072 among the other territories Georgia gained as a result of the Empire's defeat at Manzikert at the hands of Seljuks.

In 1874 Russian monks from the overcrowded Rossikon Monastery on Mount Athos arrived to the Caucasus in order to find a place for possible resettlement. They feared that the Ottoman Empire would oust the Russians from Athos after the outbreak of the impending Russo-Turkish War. They selected Psyrtskha, and the Neo-Byzantine New Athos Monastery, dedicated to St. Simon the Canaanite, was constructed there in the 1880s with funds provided by Tsar Alexander III of Russia. Eventually Russian monks were permitted to stay in the "old" Athos, and the New Athos monastery had much less occupancy than anticipated.

In 1924, during the Soviet persecution of religion, the monastery was closed. It was later used as a storage facility, tourist base, hospital and museum. Its return to the Orthodox Church began in 1994, after the end of the war.

The scenic setting of the New Athos monastery by the sea has made it a popular destination with Russian tourists visiting Abkhazia. An older church of St. Simon the Canaanite, dated to the 9th-10th century and reconstructed in the 1880s, is located near the town, on the Psyrtskha stream.



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