Athos peninsula, Halkidiki
Athos (Oros Athos) is the third finger of the Halkidiki peninsula. On the peninsula of Athos is located the Holy mountain of Athos with a of height of 2033 meters above sea level. The land of Mountain Athos which forms one of the most beautiful parts of Greece, lays before the visitor all the grandeur of nature. The landscape is varied with small valleys and gorges, well wooded mountains interspersed with bare and precipitous rocks and occasional views of the coastline. Mountain scenery on one hand and the sea on the other create that essential framework of isolation in a different, strange world chosen by hermits for their monastic state.
Mount Athos is a monastic state, which exists for more than a thousand years and in accordance with their own rules and laws, life and religion have not changed since Byzantine times. In its prime period there were more than 40 monasteries and some 4000 monks. Today, however, this number has been reduced to 200 monks.
Apart from the monasteries, there are other smaller monastic residences, such as sketes and countless hermit’s huts.
Athos is the only monastery republic in the world with more than 1000 years of history. 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries form a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Today Greeks commonly refer to Mount Athos as the “Holy Mountain” (Greek: Άγιον Όρος, Agion Oros/Hagion Oros).
Basic requirements for visiting Mount Athos
According to a Chrysobull issued by the emperor Constantine the Monk in 1060, which continues to be in force today, the conditions for entrance to the Holy Mountain are as follows:
a) One must be in possession of an individual or group visitor’s permit, which can be obtained from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Directorate of Churches, 2 Zalokosta Str., tel.: 210 362 6894 in Athens, or from the Ministry for Northern Greece, Directorate of Cultural Affairs in Thessaloniki, Platia Diikitiriou, tel.: 2310 270 092
b) No females are permitted to enter.
c) No visitor may remain overnight unless he can supply proof of religious or educational interest and is over the age of 18.
Women can visit the monasteries only from the sea – there are a cruises from the sea to the impressive coast with the outstanding architecture of the monasteries. These cruises start from Ouranopoli (the nearest city to the Athos state), Pefkohori (Kassandra) and from the little port of Ormos Panagias about 11km from Nikiti Sithonia). The ships cruise towards the south-west seacoast at a distance of 300 to 500 meters allowing visitors to view the monasteries.
Not far from the border of Athos state there is located the charming touristic town of Ouranopoli (in terms of greek: sky town) – the connecting point between Athos republic and the rest Greece.
The distance from the airport Macedonia in Thessaloniki to Ouranopoli is 110 km.
Ouranopoli is a popular destination for summer holidays with it’s perfect beaches and picturesque views. Also we suggest properties in Halkidiki, in Ouranoupoli. In Ouranoupoli, the visitors experience the hospitality and the friendly spirit of the residents, and have the chance to taste the fresh fish collected in the Mount Athos Gulf, in traditional, famous fish taverns or to relax in charming cafes and bars along the beach. During the day, the activities give unique opportunities for swimming or fishing on exotic beaches across Ouranoupoli, on the small isles, which can be reached either by small fishing boats or speedboats. Moreover, the forest which surrounds Ouranoupoli is ideal for walks and exploration, offering majestic views to the town and Mount Athos.