Tourist’s guide to Mount Athos in Greece and how to get to the monasteries

Mount Athos in Greece is a small peninsula, one of the branches of the resort of Halkidiki, an incredibly picturesque place with amazing nature. Here are two dozen male monasteries. Mount Athos is one of the most mysterious places, surrounded by legends. According to one legend, the mountain rose from the depths of the sea at the behest of the god Poseidon. With its help, the gods crushed the revolt of the titans. And according to another legend, the Titan Athos during the uprising threw a huge stone, which became a mountain.

Mount Athos in Greece

general information

Monasteries of Athos in Greece
Simonopetra Monastery

The monasteries of Athos in Greece – a place of pilgrimage for thousands of guests. However, women are not allowed to visit the mountain. There is another legend about this. Virgin Mary, seeing the mountain, was fascinated by the local nature and asked her from God. Since then, no woman can step on the slopes of the mountain. The myth is reinforced by the decree of the President of Greece, according to which a woman who set foot on Mount Athos is provided for arrest and imprisonment.

Athos is a modern state, where its Charter operates and approximately 2,000 monks live, who pray day and night for the salvation of mankind. Monks are forbidden to eat meat, smoke or wear any clothing other than church clothes.

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The capital of Athos is the city of Karje
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The capital is Karje, the Museum of the History of Christianity is located here, where ancient manuscripts and rare icons are stored. The most beautiful on Mount Athos in Greece is Simonopeter, a seven-story building, located directly on a steep slope, which gives the monastery special grandeur.

One of the features of the monastic republic of Athos is the timing. Here, there is a method for determining the beginning and end of the day, somewhere they are guided by the sunset and sunrise, and somewhere – by the time zone of Greece.

Interesting facts about Mount Athos

  1. Athos is the only place on the planet where women are forbidden to enter, but this place is the earthly inheritance of the virgin Mary.
  2. In the pre-Christian period, the mountain was also considered a special place – the temples of Zeus and Apollo were located here.
  3. Mount Athos on the map
  4. Mount Athos on the map of Greece is part of the country, in fact it is an autonomous republic, there is an article about this in the main document – the Constitution. Power is concentrated in the Sacred organs – Kinote and Epistasia. There is also a governor, police, post office, trade is ongoing, artisans, a hospital and even banking organizations work.
  5. The first monastery was built in 963 by Athanasius of Athos. This saint introduced the main canons of monastic life. Today this monastery is called the Great Lavra.
  6. Virgin Mary is recognized as the patroness of the entire monastic republic, since in 48, after her sermons, the local pagans adopted Christianity.
  7. Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Karya
    Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  8. The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, located in Karya, is considered the oldest on the mountain, built in about 335.
  9. At its peak, there were approximately 180 monasteries on the Athos Peninsula. Athos received the status of an autonomous republic in 972, at that time the Byzantine Empire patronized it.
  10. Among the cloisters there is a Russian monastery – St. Panteleimon, built before 1016. There are also Serbian and Bulgarian monasteries.
  11. The highest part of Mount Athos is its peak (a little over 2 km), here is a temple in honor of the Transfiguration of God, erected on the site of a pagan temple.
  12. In the southwestern part of the mountain there are inaccessible places – karuli – where the most ascetic monks live.

Monasteries

There are 20 monasteries on St. Athos in Greece, each with a room for pilgrims and vacationers. Monks tell in detail about the history of the monastery, conduct excursions, and resettle tourists. Of course, there are no luxury apartments and the menu is rather modest, but people come here for something completely different.

The most famous and revered shrines of the Christian world are stored in temples:

  • Icons
  • robes of saints;
  • holy relics and relics.
Great Lavra
The catholicon of the Great Lavra

The oldest and largest monastery, located in the southeastern part of the peninsula, at the foot. The founder is St. Athanasius of Athos; it was he who drew up the Charter of life on the territory of the monastic republic. On the territory of the Lavra there are 17 temples, numerous monasteries and caves where monks retired.

Vatopedi Monastery

Located over the sea, in the north-eastern part of the peninsula. It was built between approximately 973 and 984 years by supposedly wealthy people – Anthony, Athanasius and Nicholas. The monastery is the second in the hierarchy of Svyatogorsk churches.

Vatopedi Monastery

Here are stored the icons and belt of the Virgin Mary, amazing in their beauty of church robes and utensils.

Iversky Monastery

The construction was carried out by St. John of Iver, an associate of Athanasius of Athos. The monastery was founded in 980-983 by Georgians and at the expense of the Georgian royal house of Bagration.

Iversky monastery

The main relic and shrine of the monastery is the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God. To date, the relics of saints and the miraculous icon of the Goalkeeper are also stored in Iveron. The monastery is functioning and 30 novices and monks live on a permanent basis in it.

Hilandar
Fresco of the Nativity of the Virgin

Takes 4th place in the Athos hierarchy. It was founded in the late XII – early XIII centuries on the royal benefits of St. Savva, who later became Archbishop of Serbia.

Here are stored 5 icons of the Virgin, the relics of saints, the baton of Sava sanctified and particles of various relics. The library of the monastery has more than 800 Slavic, 180 Greek manuscripts and about 20 thousand printed books.

View of the monastery from the tower of St.  Savva

Unlike other monasteries, Khaliand continued to operate and flourish during the occupation by the Turks.

The monastery is currently being rebuilt after a 2004 fire. On the territory there are about 20 monks.

It is interesting that on Athos, in the Khalindar monastery, you can write a letter with a request and they will send you a twig of the vine, which, when given, heals the infertile superkgs.

Monastery of St. Panteleimon

Panteleimon Monastery on Mount Athos in Greece is located on the seafront near Daphne. Built in 1765. Until this time, the monastery was located further from the coast and was opened in the XI century, when the first Russian monks came to the mountain.

Monastery of St. Panteleimon

The cloister stands out for its architectural ensemble. On the territory of the monastery there are many buildings, including multi-storey buildings, with beautiful domes. The general impression is, as if you were in a cozy town.

The refectory of the monastery of St. Panteleimon

The cathedral church was built between 1810 and 1820, the refectory is designed for 800 people. The monastery owns five cells and monasteries. The relics of St. Panteleimon, the foot of the Apostle Andrew the First-Called and parts of the Holy Cross, rare icons, beautiful church vestments are stored here, a separate room has been built for the library.

Dionysiat
Dionysiou Monastery

The Temple of St. Dionysius was opened in 1375, located on a steep cliff, at an altitude of about 80 meters above the sea. The monastery was named after the founder – the Monk Dionysius. The holy relics of John the Baptist and St. Niphon are kept in the temple.

Pantokrator Monastery

Located in the north-eastern part of the Athos Peninsula, nearby are the ruins of an ancient settlement. The founders are brothers Alexy (commander of the troops), John (worked in court).

Pantokrator Monastery

The first mention of the monastery dates back to 1358. In 1362, the monastery was rebuilt, the courtyards were completed. The temple contains shrines – the relics of Theodore Stratilates, part of the Life-giving Cross and part of the shield of St. Mercury.

Xiropotam

The monastery is located in one of the most picturesque parts of the Athos peninsula. There is no exact information about the founder of the monastery. According to some sources, it was founded by the Empress Pulcheria. Other sources mention Emperor Konstantin Bagryanorodny.

Xiropotam Monastery

Here is the largest part of the Honest Cross, in which you can see the hole from the nail.

Zograph

Bulgarian temple, in translation the name means – painter. According to legend, the monastery was built in the X century by monk brothers. During the construction, a dispute arose – in honor of which Saint to open the temple – Virgin Mary, St. Nicholas or St. George. Not reaching a consensus, the brothers left an icon board in the room. The next morning they found on it the icon of St. George.

General view of the Zograph monastery

The monastery is located deep in the island, so you will have to walk about 5 km to it. Important shrines are stored here – the miraculous image of St. George, the icon of the Virgin Mary of Akathist.

Dohiar

Located in the southwestern part of the peninsula. It was built around the second half of the X century by one of the associates of Athanasius of Athos – St. Euthymius. One of the shrines is the icon of the Mother of God.

Dohiar Monastery

How to get to the Holy Mountain

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Schengen visa

If you are interested in the question – how to get to Mount Athos in Greece – start with paperwork:

  • Schengen visa or Greek visa;
  • diamonitirion – official permission to visit the monastery and accommodation on its territory (cost 25 euros).

It is important! The pilgrimage center is located in Thessaloniki, there is a department for issuing permits. Address: 109, Egnatia street, Thessaloniki, 546 22. The request can be sent by e-mail – [email protected]

Official confirmation from the monastery that you are ready to be received must be obtained before traveling to Greece. This is due to the different degree of congestion of the cloisters. At different times of the year there is such an influx of pilgrims that not every monastery is able to accept everyone.

Stavronikita Monastery
Stavronikita

Almost always you can stay in the monasteries of Dionysiat, Costamonite, St. Paul or St. Andrew’s Monastery. The most difficult to stay in the monasteries Pantokrator, Stavronikit, Hilandar and Simonopetr.

After an agreement with the monastery, you can book a hotel in Thessaloniki. Then you need to get to Uranupolis – this is a city bordering Mount Athos. You can get there by bus, flights are made regularly from the bus station. The exact schedule must be found at the ticket office, as it varies depending on the time of year and the influx of tourists. You can also take a taxi. The cost of the trip is approximately 80 to 100 euros.

Ferry to Athos

From Ouranoupolis to Athos follows a ferry or speed boat, you need to buy a ticket. If you have diamonitirion, a ferry ride will be free. It follows up to Daphne and the cloisters located in the northwestern part of Mount Athos. To the monasteries, which are located in the depths of the peninsula, you have to walk (on average 5 km).

It is important! If you want to catch a ferry, you must come to Uranupolis with the first two buses. You can get to the Holy Mountain only by water, since the land border with the mainland of Greece is closed.

A city bus follows from Daphne to the capital of the Karya Peninsula. As a rule, its flights are coordinated with the arrival time of the ferry.

On the return trip, the ferry leaves from Daphne at noon, crosses the pier of all the monasteries and arrives at Uranupolis at 14-00.

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How to get permission

List of documents:

Diamonitirion - special visa
Diamonitirion
  • Schengen or Greek visa (for Ukrainians – a biometric passport);
  • diamonitirion – a special visa, issued to tourists to visit the Holy Mountain, the validity period is four days.

You can get permission directly in the monastery or in the building of the Pilgrimage Bureau, which is located in Thessaloniki.

Planning a visit to Athos and sending a request for permission must be done very well in advance – six months before the proposed visit to Greece. The request must specify:

  • last name, first name of the tourist;
  • passport scan;
  • date of arrival to Athos;
  • contact details – phone, email;
  • religion.

This information must be sent by fax or e-mail. All contacts can be found on visitafon.ru.

A positive decision to visit the Holy Mountain comes a few weeks before the indicated date by e-mail. The pilgrim is also notified by phone.

How to get diamonitirion
Office of the Bureau of Pilgrims in Uranopoli
Office of the Bureau of Pilgrims

Tourists get a visa in Uranupolis at the pilgrimage office after presenting a passport. The document is handed on the day of departure to Mount Athos. Upon receipt of a visa, the tourist pays a fee of 25 EUR.

The document must be kept with you along the way, since you can only enter the ferry by presenting a monastic visa. Arriving at Athos, you must immediately visit the monastery, which gave the pilgrim diamonitirion.

Prices on the page are for April 2018.

As you can see, to make a trip, it is not enough to find out where Athos is located in Greece, you will need to draw up documents and go a long way. Athos in Greece is a unique place where a special atmosphere reigns, pacification and you can find answers to the most complex and intimate questions.



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