The foundation of the Monastery of Iviron is to be linked with the presence on the Holy Mountain of Athos of members of the great Iberian (Georgian) family of the Tornikioi. The Monastery was founded in 979-980 AD, immediately after the return of Tornikios (the monk John), who received the title of syncellus (church benefice of the 8th century). The Georgian brotherhood, leaving the kellia with which St Athanasius had provided them near the Lavra, established themselves at the monastery “known as Όf Clement”‘, which was dedicated to St John the Baptist. After 1010 AD, it received its current name in honor of its founders.
Being a monastic complex, it is large and imposing. The entrance to the monastery is on the north side. The Katholikon is located in the courtyard on the east side of the monastery. Opposite it is the great bell tower. Next to it is the commons and on the other side is the library. The buildings of the courtyard are surrounded by the wings that form a quadrilateral, where are the monks’ cells arranged in zones, the administrative areas of the monastery, the tower, the mansion, the new sacristy – icon treasury, which is also a library-synodical and other auxiliary spaces.
The monastery of Iberon has 60 monks (33 in the convent and 27 in its annexes). It was converted into a communal one with the sigillium of the Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrius I.
The monastery has 16 chapels. In the Katholikon are two chapels with frescoes, of Saint Nikolas and of the Holy Archangels. The remains of 165 saints and parts of the instruments used during Christ’s crucifixion are kept there. Next to the old entrance of the monastery is the chapel of the Virgin Portaitissa with the miraculous icon of Virgin. The frescoes of the narthex (1774) depict sages and kings of ancient times. Also, in the courtyard is the chapel of the Holy Forerunner, built over the old Katholikon of the Monastery of Clement. Its current form dates back to 1710. The Cemetery is located north of the monastery and the church is commemorated in memory of Saint Athanasios, Patriarch of Alexandria.
The sacristy of the monastery is housed together with the library in the independent building, located opposite the Katholikon. The monastery is considered one of the most valuable of Mount Athos. Kept, Inside the monastery, are priceless treasures, gold-embroidered robes, church utensils, crosses, chalices, crucifixes, miters, the high priestly uniform of Patriarch Dionysios IV, the mantle of Patriarch Gregory V, an imperial sack from the 15th century and other sacred objects and heirlooms. In addition, there are imperial and patriarchal documents, among which are the golden bulls of the emperors Michael VIII Palaiologos and John VI Kantakouzenos.
The library of the monastery is well organized and rich in content. It contains more than 20,000 documents, of which 33 are archetypes and 11,000 antiquarian books. Also, it includes more than 2,300 handwritten codices as well as 14 functional scrolls. 223 of the codices are parchment scrolls written in the Greek and Georgian languages. The rest are made of cotton and paper. There are 68 Greek and one Slavic manuscripts that are illustrated. A special room for the library was created in the new two-story building on the south side of the monastery.