Megiste Lavra is the most senior Monastery on Mount Athos and was founded in 963 by St Athanasius of Athos with the help of the Byzantine emperor Nikiphoros Focas. The main church dates from the 10th century and has 16th century wall-paintings by the great artist Theofanis.
The monastery was the recipient of benefactions and many valuable gifts from Byzantine emperors. Its collections today include precious stones, bibles, mosaic icons, challises, sacred vessels and outstanding wood-carvings.
In the library there are 2,050 manuscripts, of which 470 codices and 50 scrolls are on parchment. These manuscripts, along with 10.000 early editions and other printed books, make the library of Megiste Lavra the most notable of all those of Mount Athos.