Mount Athos in Greece is the treasury of Orthodox faith. It is the northernmost mountainous peninsula of the three that make up the Halkidiki peninsula. This monastic sanctuary is located about 140 km east of Thessaloniki. The best way to get to Mount Athos is by taking passenger ships from Ouranoupolis to Daphne.
According to the Greek Constitution, Mount Athos (Holy Mountain) is an independent administrative-political unit that has 20 monasteries with the right of self-government, which is done by a "Holy Community" governing autonomy. Chief town and administrative center is Karen, which is the governor's office, serving as a representative of the Greek government. Spiritually, Mount Athos is under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople. Furthermore, there are 12 smaller monasteries and 600 cells.
Athos is spread over an area of approximately 389 square kilometers, the length of this autonomous monastic republic is 57 km and a width of 7-10 km. Its highest peak rises to 2038m. and remains below the thick forests of mountain hill. Nature here is uniquely beautiful, composed mainly of evergreen forest vegetation.
One of the ancient Greek legends of this place tells of Athos, who was a giant of Thrace. He fought long with the sea god Poseidon. Atos extracted stones, which would be poured over Poseidon, but they were poured on him. Ultimately Atos lost the battle and was killed and his body is the very Athos peninsula.
The shaping of a monastic community here took place in 963, when the monk Athanasius founded the Great Lavra monastery, which today is the largest of all 20 monasteries of Mount Athos. The monastery has enjoyed the patronage of the Byzantine Emperor, which contributes to its rapid growth and increased its wealth and possessions.
Today, women are not yet admitted on the territory of Mount Athos. This rule of law came in 1060, while at the monastery itself, there is not even a female image. Any male devotee can visit Mount Athos, but only after obtaining special permission from a special department for admission to the monastery. The only female beings who could enter in the monastery were cats and chickens.
One of the most interesting and popular monasteries on Mount Athos is the Hilendar monastery. That it is the largest sanctuary of the Serbian people, and in the hierarchical structure of the temples in Mount Athos, the monastery Hilendar ranks fourth. The tremendous value that this temple represents was assessed by UNESCO, which includes the temple in its list of world cultural landmarks.
Hilendar monastery was founded sometime in the 10th century by the monk George Hilandar. This temple on Mount Athos is firmly connected with Bulgarian history, after the fall of the Bulgarian and Serbian lands under Turkish rule, many monks go to Hilendar.
Another famous monastery is the Zograph Monastery, which is a real piece of religious architecture and art. Founded in the 10th century by the Bulgarians Aaron, Moses and John Zograph, this monastery in Mount Athos is considered historically a Bulgarian Temple. It is one of the largest monasteries in Athos, in the hierarchy of the complex, it occupies ninth place. Today, in the extremely rich and valuable library of the Zograph monastery are kept 126 Greek and 388 Slavic manuscripts, and approximately 10, 000 printed books.