Aghion Oros, the unique monastic city!
The peninsula of Mount Athos
Aghion Oros (Holy Mountain) or Peninsula of Mount Athos is the eastern of the three peninsulas of Chalkidiki. It was named Holy Mountain for the unique monastic city created in its land. Athosis the high mountain on the southern part. In antiquity, the peninsula was called Akte (Coast).
It starts from the canal of Xerxes in the settlement of Nea Roda, where the neck of the land has a width of 2 km, heading southeast between Strymonikos Gulf in the east and the Gulf of Mount Athos in the west. It has an area of 385 sq km, a length of 50 km and a width from 5.5 to 9 km.
The peninsula is crossed almost the entire length by a mountain range. Mythology connects Mount Athos with the battle between the Gods and Giants and the name is mentioned since the 5th century BC. It rises in a conical shape and its peak is at 2,033 meters. Above there were altars in ancient times. Since 1894 there is the church of the Transfiguration.
The terrain explains the richness of the nature. There are small water streams, many forests and vegetation with a wide variety of species. The coastline, especially in the southern part, is in many places rocky, forming small bays.
We go to the monasteries of the western side by boat from Ouranoupoli; from there also boats make the circumnavigation of the peninsula. To the monasteries of the eastern site from Ierissos and Nea Roda when the weather permits.Information: Pilgrims Office (tel. 23770 71421), Port Authority of Ouranoupoli (tel. 23770 71248), Port Authority of Ierissos (tel. 23770 22063).
Aghion Oros (the Holy Mountain) is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Garden of Mary was called during the Byzantine period. The name Holy Mountain officially mentioned in 1045.
The first monastic center of Megistis (Great) Lavras was built in 866. In 962 the great monastery of Megistis Lavras was founded by St Athanasius the Athonite. In 980 was founded the Monasttery of Iviron, then the Monastery of Vatopediou Monastery and the Monastery of Philotheou and later the other monasteries.
Since 1988, the Holy Mountain is on the UNESCO list of monuments of world cultural heritage.
It is a self-governed region with an area of 336 sq km and belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Capital is Karyes and seaport is Daphne. Visitors must get a permission from the Holy Supervision. Women are not allowed to visit Mount Athos.
The monastic city consists of twenty monasteries, the sixteen of which are on the coast or near the coast, and nine cloisters, and from cells, cottages, seats and hermitages. Most monasteries are coenobitic.
The monasteries are:
On the western side from north to south:
- The Monastery Zographou in the interior.
- The Monastery Kastamonitou in the interior.
- The Monastery Dochiariou on the coast.
- The Monastery Xenophondos (Xenophon) on the coast.
- The Monastery of Aghios Pandeleimonos near the coast.
- The Monastery Xiropotamou near the coast.
- The Monastery Simonos Petras inward.
- The Monastery of Ossiou Grigoriou inward.
- The Monastery of Dionyssiou near the coast.
- The Monastery of Aghiou Pavlou (St.Paul) inward.
In the middle of the peninsula:
- The Monastery Koutloumoussiou.
On the eastern coast from north to south:
- The Monastery Esfigmenou on the coast.
- The Monastery Helandariou in the interior.
- The Monastery Vatopediou on the coast.
- The Monastery Pandokratoros on the coast.
- The Monastery Stavronikita on the coast.
- The Monastery Iviron on the coast.
- The Monastery Philotheou in the interior.
- The Monastery Karakallou inward.
- The Monastery Megistis Lavras inward.