The Megisti (Great) Lavra was built by Saint Athanasios the Athonite in 963 at the tip of the peninsula of Athos, upon the ruins of the ancient city of Akroathos.
The monastery was assisted at the outset by the Emperor Nicephore Phoka and John Tsimiski.
The sacristy of the monastery is abundant in holy treasures. The sakkos (imperial dress), crown and Gospel book of Nicephore Phoka is counted among the treasures.
In the library of the Monastery there are about 2,050 manuscripts and more than 30,000 printed books.
It was in the Holy Monastery of the Great Lavra that the so-called «Athonite» architectural design was created. In this style the «Katholicon,» or main church, of the Holy Monastery was designed and built.
The ancient sketes of Agia Anna (Saint Anne) and Kafsokalivia, the more recent skete of the Honorable Forerunner, and the monastic settlements of Katounakia, Karoulia, Agios Basilios, Kerasia, Vigla, and Probata, belong to the Great Lavra.