Today, Greece’s most sacred land is located at the easternmost leg of the Halkidiki peninsula, which is none other than Mount Athos.
Greece undoubtedly is known for its beautiful and rich ancient history and mythology. Yet, it is also a land of bountiful Christian traditions and history. Today, Greece’s most sacred land is located at the easternmost leg of the Halkidiki peninsula, which is none other than Mount Athos.
The mountain has a long history of holiness and monastic traditions. Currently, the mountain within the Christian Orthodox community is known as the Holy Mountain or the Garden of the Virgin Mary.
Before Mount Athos became the Holy Mountain, it was recorded as an essential part of the ancient Greek civilization. It was a passageway for Greece’s conquerors, such as the Persians.
Foremost, the name itself of the mountain comes from Greek mythology. Athos was the name of one of the giants that fought during the battle with the Greek gods. Mythology says Athos threw an enormous rock on Poseidon during the fight, which then fell into the ocean and become the mountain as we know it today.
However, most of the mountain’s early history got lost through time. Later, according to Athonite tradition, the Virgin Mary embarked on a journey to go to Cyprus to visit Lazarus. But due to strong winds, she ended up arriving at Mount Athos. Mesmerized by its beauty, she blessed and asked her son to have it as her garden.
Then, Jesus’ heavenly voice said loudly and clearly, “Let this place be your inheritance and your garden, a paradise and a haven of salvation for those seeking to be saved.” Since then, the mountain was declared as Virgin Mary’s Garden, and all other women were banned from entering.
Until today, the mountain is a monastic community of only male monks, and only other men can visit. However, there is a restricted daily number of visitors, and they have to have a special entrance permit.
Nevertheless, Mount Athos is still visited by thousands of orthodox men who are enamored and curious about the monks’ simple holy life. Also, the incredible scenery of the mountain, forests, Mediterranean sea, and the graphic monasteries and churches.
Access to the area is only by boat from Ouranoupoli.