Why you should visit Mount Athos once in your lifetime

Why you should visit Mount Athos once in your lifetime

Did you ever wish to live among holy men and reach divinity? If so, Mount Athos will give you a chance you’ve been looking for.

Did you ever wish to live among holy men and reach divinity? If so, Mount Athos will give you a chance you’ve been looking for. Check out why you should visit Mount Athos at least once in your lifetime.

Monastic community of Mount Athos

Mount Athos is the holiest mountain in Greece and the second most important Christian Orthodox Religious site after Jerusalem. Eastern Orthodox Christian Tradition says that the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist stopped on the Mount Athos peninsula to take shelter from a sea storm thus, it is also known by the name ‘Garden of the Virgin Mary.’

Mount Athos has been a secluded monastic community for a thousand years, and it still follows Byzantine traditions. There are 20 operating monasteries which are all only for male monks. Today, only men are allowed to enter Mount Athos as visitors, and in fact, Greek urban legends say that any woman that enters will die within 5 years.

Nevertheless, men who visit Mount Athos feel like stepping back in time. They can live in the ways of the Byzantine era for a few days and discover the mysticism of the orthodox religious lifestyle. Furthermore, they can admire works of hagiography and the unique architecture of the stunning monasteries, churches, hermitages, and sketes.

All monastic settlements have a hospitality custom of greeting visitors with a small glass of alcohol and some traditional sweets. They also offer a free meal per day. It is important to remember that as they follow the Byzantine customs, they use the Byzantine time where 00:00 hour begins at Sunset, and the Calendar has been preserved. Therefore, visitors need to adjust their meal times in accordance.

Halkidiki is a top destination

Moreover, Halkidiki is a top destination for fantastic natural landscapes. It has dense pine trees, lush green mountains, incredible coastlines, white sandy beaches, and crystal-clear azure waters. At Mount Athos, nature is still unspoiled, giving visitors stunning views. While visiting the various monasteries and churches across the peninsula, visitors can trek kilometers of astonishing landscapes.

Planning a trip to Mount Athos is still relatively complex, even if you are a man. As an autonomous region, they have their own laws. For instance, only 100 Christian Orthodox males and 10 non-Christian Orthodox males per day are allowed entrance. And only with a special entry permit, the Diamonitrion.

Furthermore, it is essential to find accommodation and transportation before arrival. Make sure to notify the monasteries of your arrival to prepare a bed and a meal free of charge. Also, contact the bus driver to pick you up and drop you off if you’d rather drive around the area rather than trek from monastery to monastery.

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Mount Athos is the easternmost peninsula of Halkidiki. It is usually known as the spiritual center of Orthodox Christianity since medieval times. Its 20 monasteries scattered throughout the peninsula are popular pilgrimage sites. Yet, Mount Athos is unique in other ways, too. Take its splendid nature as a reference. It features hills, forests and the sea crashing against the mount's rocky base. In short, Mount Athos is a place unlike any other. Flora of Mount Athos Mount Athos has delightful nature, which is the reason for its "Garden of the Virgin Mary" epithet. There are many endemic plant species inhabiting the region because of many reasons. The uniqueness of the terrain and a variety of micro climates are a few of them. Kassandra and Sithonia, the nearby peninsulas, have the Mediterranean climate. Athos combines elements of the Mediterranean and Continental climates among some others. Due to the fact, you can find a wide variety of plants there. The olive tree, holm oak and the lentisk are some representatives of the Mediterranean vegetation. Some sub-continental species found in the area are the chestnut, fir and the pine. Even semi-desert plants inhabit the Holy Mountain, such as the arboreal euphorbia. And so on. Wildlife of Athos Since around 90% of Mount Athos's surface is untouched, there are many animal species inhabiting the region. While wandering around, you may find traces of various mammals and spot birds. Some mammals found on the Holy Mountain are jackals, red foxes, gray wolves, weasels and monk seals. The Garden of the Virgin Mary is also an excellent destination for birdwatching. Among other birds, you may see golden eagles, black storks, eagle owls, short-toed eagles and gulls. Landscapes of the Holy Mountain Pilgrims constitute the biggest part of Athos's visitors. Getting from one monastery to another is usually carried out on foot via stone-paved paths. Along the way, pilgrims traverse wooded areas with occasional clearings revealing magnificent landscapes. Fields and grooves encircle some monasteries, while others boast forested settings. Some of them are true islands in the sea of greenery.

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