Mount Athos


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The Athonite State, or else the Holy Mountain, occupies the third, most easterly and magical peninsula of Halkidiki, the peninsula of Athos. It is the only place in Greece, which is solely dedicated to prayer and the worship of god. For this reason, it is known as the Holy Mountain.

Photo by Stratos Kalafatis

The peninsula’s physical landscapes are breath-taking. Mt Athos dominates with an altitude of 2,033 metres. It is as though its peak is piercing the sky, while its slopes, covered with perennial trees, create an unparalleled aesthetic beauty over the whole of this magical region.

Mt Athos is a self-administering part of the Greek state that is subject politically to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, in religious matters, to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. It is divided into twenty self-governing territories, each of which has a main monastery and several other monastic settlements around it (sketes, cells, huts, kathismata, hermitages). All the monasteries are coenobitic, with worship, prayer, housing, meals and work all being done in common among the monks.

Useful information

Άγιο Όρος - Φωτογραφία Στράτος Καλαφάτης

Φωτογραφία Στράτος Καλαφάτης.

For a day visit or to stay overnight at Mt Athos, you will need to telephone the office of the Holy Executive Bureau in Thessaloniki (tel. 2310-252575) in order to be issued a special licence (diamonitirio), which can be picked up from the Mount Athos Pilgrim’s Bureau at Ouranoupolis in Halkidiki (tel. 23770-71422). There are daily ferry boat connections from Ouranoupolis to the central port of Mt Athos and the harbours of the monasteries on the west side of the Athos peninsula.

There are also daily cruises around the perimeter of the Mt Athos peninsula, which women and children can go on, thus giving them the opportunity to admire from a distance both the unrivalled natural beauty and the architecture of many of the monasteries of Athos, which “hang” over the peninsula. Not only this, but they have the opportunity to worship at sea, as monks in speed boats climb up on the decks of the cruise boats, where they set up icons which the faithful can pray at.


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