The New Athos Monastery is the main holy place of Abkhazia and the entire Caucasus region. It was founded in 1875 by two Russian monks who came from the Monastery of St. Panteleimon on the Holy Mount Athos in Greece.
The New Athos Monastery was laid down on the elevation at the foot of the Iversky (Iviron) and Athos Mounts. But the complex pre-construction works were almost at once were interrupted by the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878. During the war all the buildings of the monastery were ruined, and the restoration of the New Athos Monastery to its today look began in 1880, with direct involvement of the Russian emperor Alexander III.
The monastery can be seen from the Primorskoye highway at the lower part of the town of New Athos, but one should ascend to it by a steep road. Often tourists climb up the Tsar Alley to the New Athos Monastery, the one that the emperor Alexander III ascended at the time of his visiting New Athos on September, 24, 1888, together with the empress Maria Fyodorovna and the members of the tsar?s family. In honour of the event the monks planted cypresses on both sides of the path.
The full name of the monastery, the «New Athos Monastery of Simon the Cananaean» is related to the monk Simon the Cananaean who lived there and was buried at the Church of Simon the Cananaean near the Lower New Athos waterfall. The waterfall takes its rise on the top of the hill and roars down to its foot where the church is located.
The monastery has the shape of a rectangle with a spacious court in the center. The court is surrounded by the (monastic) cells and administrative buildings, including 5 churches and a bell tower. In the center of the New Athos Monastery is the large Cathedral of St. Panteleimon, which was laid down in 1888 by the emperor Alexander III. The church has five domes and reaches the height of 40 meters.