Mount Athos on Bing Maps
For the Greeks “Agion Oros” (meaning Holy Mountain) is thought of as a place of asceticism and religion. It is located on the easternmost peninsula of Halkidiki (Northern Greece) and is a self-governed region of Greece.
It is subject to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the public sector and religiously to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. It is a place of worship of the Christian Orthodoxy and traditionally refuses access to women and children.
Within Mount Athos you will find, after a lot of walking, that there are twenty autonomous districts with equal Monasteries. In each monastery are subject several smaller structures. If you feel it is a must that you visit this really special part of Greece, contact the Mount Athos office in advance to find out what it takes to get a permission to visit the place.
Only 100 men daily are permitted to visit Mount Athos and are usually given permission for four days stay (Information: the special office of the Holy Mountain in Thessaloniki tel. 2310 252578, Fax: 2310 222424).
If you are wondering how a typical day visit to the Holy place is, check this page to get a first idea.
Mount Athos (actually Ouranoupolis which is on the northern edge) is about 140 Km from Thessaloniki, Greece’s co-capital. Its highest point has an altitude of 2033 meters. In Greek mythology, at least in one version, Giant Athos fired a giant stone against god Poseidon.
But the huge rock slipped his fingers and fell into the sea and thus was created the homonym peninsula.
The twenty principal monasteries were founded by monks, saints and emperors. Monk Athanasios, Empress Pulcheria, St. Dionysius, Emperor Theodosius II are just a few of the founders. The history of the monasteries goes back to the 4th century AD.
Monasticism, practiced also in Mount Athos, is a particular call to serve God. Through prayers, obedience, fasting, solitude and deaconship the monk tries to come closer to God. It’s a long and deep spiritual journey, for those who will feel the call.
Besides being an Orthodox spiritual center since the 10th century, Mount Athos affected the Orthodox architectural and artistic point of view. The monasteries preserved priceless icons, embroidery, paintings, manuscripts and other objects of great value of the Orthodox tradition.
The beauty of the landscape, monasticism, monasteries, monks, cells, quietness and contact with the “inner” are a magnet for believers. Complementary to these the vast Byzantine cultural richness and the living continuation of Church tradition will delight you.
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