Mount Athos is one of the holiest destinations in Europe. Located in Halkidiki, Greece, it is also called “the Monastic Republic.” It consists of 20 Orthodox Christian monasteries, 17 of which are Greek. Other three monasteries are Russian, Serbian and Bulgarian. Because Athos is a “Garden of the Virgin,” no females may enter its borders. But, everyone can enjoy a view of the garden from the outside, which is enough to reveal the origin of this epithet. While some monasteries are deeper inland, others line the coast. And these are the top 5 Athos monasteries you should see on the cruise:
Agios Panteleimon Monastery
When you lay eyes on Agios (Saint) Panteleimon, you will have no doubt that it is a Russian monastery. Set on the coast with verdant hills in the background, it features the style reminiscent of imperial Russia. It is also the largest monastic complex on the Athos peninsula. Pay attention to characteristic green roofs of the structures crowned with domes with gilded crosses.
The Dochiariou Monastery appears as if built on an uneven ground. At least, that is the impression when seen from the sea. By the looks of it, you may think that it is a fortress rather than a monastery. Set beneath high hills, it comprises a number of turrets enveloping Byzantine-style towers.
Dionysiou Monastery is another outstanding example of the religious architecture. It may lack the imperial graciousness of Saint Panteleimon. But it makes up for that by its position on a high cliff. The Dionysiou Monastery is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, whose mother, Saint Elizabeth, was a relative to the Virgin Mary.
The Gregory Monastery is another spectacular complex located beneath hills by the coastline. Its imposing proportions are quite in accordance to the surrounding hills. Also, the monastery is set on a small promontory jutting into the sea.
The location of the Monastery of Karakallou is deeper inland, but you can see it from the sea. Massive walls encircle the monastic complex, with the imposing tower as its dominating feature.