The old Library collection comprises 950 codices (bound volumes of manuscripts) of parchment and paper from the ninth century, some of which are illustrated. These were produced either in the monastic or the imperial scriptorium (Constantinople). These exceptional works comprise Gospels, the lives of saints, liturgical and musical texts and a number of which deal with diverse subjects such as philosophy, medicine and law. The illustrated manuscripts are unique in character, bearing a direct nexus to the artwork of Constantinople and other ancient traditions. The library also maintains an extensive collection of detailed music manuscripts.

It also houses more than 5200 printed books ranging from 1500 to 1890 covering topics on Literature, Grammar, European and World History, Travel, Medicine, Art, Philosophy and Theology. These treasures were primarily printed in Venice, Vienna, Leipzig, Paris, Constantinople and various Romanian presses, and include mainly ancient Greek, Latin, Romanian, French, German and Turkish language texts.

Included in the Library collection are the royal decrees and charters of Alexios Comnenos, Andronikos Paleologos 1321 AD, Sultanic firmans since the 15th century, letters from the Wallachian rulers since the 14th century and other royal correspondence.

Mount Athos is a treasure-trove of European and World heritage, replete with religious, artistic, architectural and other cultural offerings that appeal to a wide audience of Panorthodox and cosmopolitan interests. Moreover, Athos continues to be the world’s oldest living museum that keeps breathing, thinking and praying every day and night – precisely the feature which distinguishes it from all other museums.

The library of the Koutloumous Monastery is in imminent peril due to centuries of mold and decay. Preserving, conserving and restoring the library is a paramount priority that shall require considerable, yet lacking, resources. The library’s present needs are as follows:

restoration of damaged books and manuscripts
renovation according to today’s standards
equipment (shelves, show-cases, computers etc.)
climate controlling system

Basic Bibliography

Paul Lemerle, Actes de Kutlumus , Paris 1945, 1988 (2)
Treasures of Mount Athos. Ministry of Culture, Organization for the Cultural Capital of Europe Thessaloniki 1997, Thessaloniki 1997 (in English)
Mount Athos and the European Community (ed. Anthony-Emil Tachiaos), Institute for Balkan Studies, Thessaloniki 1993 (in English and French)
Ioannis Mamalakis, Τό Άγιον Όρος (‘Αθω) διά μέσου των αιώνων, Thessaloniki 1971 (in Greek)
Koutloumousi, A ten centuries long vigil, Holy Monastery of Koutloumous, Mount Athos 2000 (in English)
Florin Marinescu (National Foundation for Research), The Romanian Archives of Mount Athos. The Archive of the Koutloumousiou Holy Monastery, Holy Monastery of Koutloumous, Mount Athos 1998 (in Greek)