Mount Athos is a unique destination in many ways. It is one of the holiest destinations in Greece. More so, it is an organization like no other in the world. Thus, there are many interesting facts that relate to Mount Athos.
And these are just a few of them:
- Mount Athos is the monastic republic. It consists of 20 monasteries of Orthodox Christianity. The Megisti Lavra monastery, founded in the 10th century AD, is the oldest among them.
- 17 monasteries are under the sovereignty of the Greeks. Russian, Serbian and Bulgarian brotherhoods run a single monastery each.
- In the past, non-Greek communities had more monasteries under their jurisdiction. However, Greek monks took those over when the number of brothers decreased to the point when monasteries couldn’t be run by them.
- When the Turks took over the Balkan Peninsula during 13th and 14th centuries, they left Athos monasteries intact. But in exchange for quite big taxes, of course.
- Entry to the Athos Peninsula of Halkidiki is denied to females and children. Only grown-up males can apply for the permit to enter the grounds of the monastic republic.
- Only one woman in history was allowed to set foot on the grounds of the monastic community of Athos. This was Jelena (Helena), the medieval Serbian Empress. She was the spouse of Dusan the Mighty, the most powerful Serbian ruler in history.
- The curiosity about the Athos Peninsula is that even the number of domesticated female animals is strictly controlled. Only cats, which keep the population of rodents under control, and hens are to be seen around.
- Athos monasteries had proved significant in creating and sharing the Orthodox art. Works of art created by Athos monks decorate monasteries and churches throughout the Orthodox world.
- In summer, sailing tours around Mount Athos take place on a regular basis. Some monasteries you can see on a cruise are Dochiariou, Xenophontos, Simonopetra, Dionysiou and Russian Panteleimon.
People that receive the permit to enter the Monastic Republic of Athos have a unique opportunity.
They could climb the highest peak and enjoy fantastic views of the surroundings. There is a statement that they could experience sunrises hours before those at the base of the mountain.