On 31 August 1856, Lear reached Mount Athos, the rocky promontory in Northern Greece, the Holy Mountain of Greece; he had written to his sister, Ann, ten days earlier: 'There are 20 principal monasteries, besides 50 or 60 little ones! - I mean to go to all, & draw all'. Lear and his servant Giorgio Kokali stayed three weeks on the mountain, and he made a collection of drawings, which he hoped to publish, a project which did not come to fruition. His reaction to Mount Athos is summed up in a letter to his sister: '.... however abundantly & exquisitely glorious and stupendous the scenery of the mountain, I would not go again to the Holy Mountain for any money, so gloomy - so shockingly unnatural - so lonely - so lying - so unatonably odious seems to me all the atmosphere of such monkery'.
The founders of the Monastery were Stefan Nemania and his son Rastko, Kings of Serbia. They established the monastery in 1197 on the site of an earlier foundation on the north-eastern side of Mount Athos