Karies was intended to become the capital of Agion Oros, since the beginning. Dating back 11 centuries, one might say that is the oldest Balkan, maybe even European, capital city. Ever since its foundation, a committee of elders was summoned there, acting as a ruling authority.
The Holy Committee, formed by representatives of the 20 monasteries, has its seat in Karies. One can also find the seat of the Civil Authority, as well as other public services like the Police station, the Post Office etc. In Karies, each monastery, with the exception of Koutloumousiou which is very close, runs a small house, called the Konaki, where the representative at the Holy Committee resides.
Despite its administrative role, the town has an important religious aspect, strongly reflected at the liturgies carried at the Protaton church. The Protaton was founded in the 9th century and is one of the oldest buildings on Mount Athos. Its layout radically differs from all other churches in Agion Oros, as well as most other churches of the Byzantine period. The interior is decorated by magnificent murals, painted around 1290, by Emmanouil Panselinos.
In the vicinity of Karies there are a lot of cells, where small groups of monks spend their days. At close distance lies also the imposing skete of St. Andreas that belongs to Vatopedion and where Athonias academy operates.
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