Religious sites are believed to have special power. For the Orthodox, such an area in the world is Mount Athos. It is inhabited by monks who came from different countries of the world and who have completely devoted their lives to serving God and religion.
Athos - an independent society
Mount Athos is located in the eastern part of Greece, on the Halkidiki peninsula. This place is unique, it is a kind of independent monastic republic. Experts assure: Athos is a modern version of Byzantium, where Orthodox culture is carefully guarded.
Now there are no more than 20 active monasteries on Athos. They are home to about 2,000 thousand Orthodox monks. However, earlier this number was much higher: 40 monasteries numbered almost 40,000 people.
You will have to use the checkpoints to get to Athos on your own. Most often, travelers "start" from Thessaloniki, taking the earliest buses heading towards Ouranoupolis. Further, the path lies only on the water. You can choose public transport, following the schedule (boat / ferry) or book a seat on the sea taxi. The difference in price will be only a few euros, but you will arrive at your destination in just 20 minutes, not 2 hours.
If Athos is the main destination of your trip, be sure to keep a few points in mind. Firstly, go on a trip only after obtaining a special permit - diamonithirion (50 euros). This pass allows only 110 travelers a day to visit the mountain and monasteries. If you plan to travel in the summer, apply at least six months in advance. For other seasons, this period is narrowed to 1-2 months.
Secondly, after obtaining permission, do not reschedule the date of travel. If you do not show up on the appointed day, you will have to go through the whole procedure again. Third, choose the right time for your visit. The best period is September-October. In April and May the weather is also favorable, but climbing the mountain will be impossible due to snow. During the summer months it is very hot on Athos, and in winter you can be “hostages” of the holy place due to a strong storm.
Important nuances of visiting the Holy Mountain
Permission to visit Athos is issued only to men: women are not allowed to visit the monks. Beautiful ladies can only enjoy the beauty of the holy place from the sea. Thus, nothing prevents the inhabitants of the mountain from going about their daily activities.
Today, the question of lifting the ban on women visiting Athos is periodically raised. However, the leaders of the monastic republic believe that such permission will bring a lot of inconvenience to local residents and their way of life.
When submitting a request for a permit, please indicate all data in English or Greek. Be sure to enter your mobile phone number and the desired date of visit (preferably several possible). If you are a baptized Orthodox, indicate this in a note: you will have priority over tourists of other religions.
When visiting Athos, follow all the prescribed rules. Give up shorts, and wear a long-sleeved shirt for service. Leave your photo and video equipment on the mainland. If they are found during the search, they will be confiscated. While on Athos, forget about swimming: such a pastime is not blessed here.