The Monastery of Zygos, also known as Fragokastro, is located in Ouranoupoli, about 40 meters from the borderline of Mount Athos. It is dedicated to Prophet Elias and have been founded around 991 AD. It is the only monastery of Mount Athos that is accessible to everyone. Excavations are still ongoing.
At the excavation location, the visitor can see both the castle and the towers of the Monastery complex. The castle was built in five different phases, all completed before 1211.
The surface area within the walls is a total of 5.5 acres. The wall of the complex has 11 towers, some of which have recently been restored. The entire floor of the temple was decorated with an exquisite, original and rich marble work of the 11th century.
The first mention of the monastery is found in 996, in a document of the monastery of Megisti Lavra. Among others, Nikon, abbot of the Zygos monastery, signs as “Nikon, monk and abbot of Zygos” in the document. The monastery was dedicated to the prophet Elias (“Saint Elias”) and was one of the most important monasteries of Mount Athos during the 11th century.
In 1018 when, with Nyphon as abbot, the property of the Monastery increased, after the grant of lands by the Athonite community. In the same period, the building complex was expanded and the new Katholikon (central church) was built. It is a key objective in the excavation and restoration process that continues to this day.
At the end of the 12th century, the Monastery of Zygos was deserted. The emperor Alexios Angelos Komnenos, with a gold bullion, signed it over to the reconstituted Monastery of Hilandari.
Around 1206, it seems that a Frankish lord had settled in the castle of Zygos with his soldiers and plundered Mount Athos, until, around 1211, after the intervention of the Pope of Rome, he was expelled from the area. For this reason, the ruins of the Monastery are known today as “Fragokastro” (Frankish Castle).