Not far from Karyes, the administrative center of Mt. Athos, is St. Andrew Skete, which is connected to Vatopedi Monastery. In ancient times, the monastery of St. Anthony stood here, but was destroyed in the 15th century by pirates.
The skete acquired its present-day appearance in the late 19th century, when Russian monks purchased it and turned it into the “coenobitic Skete of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called.” The skete surpasses many Athonite monasteries in size, and its main church became one of the largest in the East of those built under Turkish rule. By the beginning of the 20th century there were 800 brothers laboring in the skete, but in 1913, the larger part of the brotherhood fell into the heresy of the “name-worshippers” and had to be sent back to their homeland. The subsequent First World War and October revolution in Russia made the situation untenable for the Russian brothers of St. Andrew Skete, as well as for the St. Panteleimon Monastery. In 1971 the last monk of the old brotherhood died, the skete was desolate, and began to fall into wrack and ruin.
The skete’s rebirth began in 1992 with the arrival of the new brotherhood.
The Greeks call the skete “Serai” (Σεράϊ—“palace” in Greek). The Russian monks and pilgrims have rephrased the name to “se rai” (се рай—“this is paradise”).
Photographs by Vladimir Orlov/Pravoslavie.ru