Holy Mount Athos
The spiritual capital of the Orthodox Christian world - the unique monastic state - a land of treasures and miracles.
The autonomous monastic republic of Athos (this is official name of the Holy Mount) is a self-governing part of Greece within the Greek state where are concentrated 20 Orthodox monasteries of which 17 are Greek, one Russian is the Monastery of St. Panteleimon, one Bulgarian is Zograf and one is Serbian Hilandar, and each the monastery has its own place and sequence in the Athos hierarchy:
Great Laurus (Μεγίστη Λαύρα), Vatopaidi (Βατοπαίδι), Iver (Ιβήρων), Hilandar (Χιλανδαρίου), Dionysiou (Διονυσίου), Koutloumousiou (Κουτλουμούσι), Pantokratoros (Παντοκράτορος), Xeropotamou (Ξηροποτάμου), Zograph (Ζωγράφου), Docheiariou (Δοχειαρίου), Caracal (Καρακάλλου), Filofei (Φιλοθέου), Simonopetra (Σιμωνόπετρα), St. Paul (Αγίου Παύλου), Stavronikita (Σταυρονικήτα), Xenophontos (Ξενοφώντος), Grigoriev (Οσίου Γρηγορίου), Esphigmenou (Εσφιγμένου), Panteleimon (Αγίου Παντελεήμονος), Konstamoni (Κωνσταμοο).
The monastic republic is ruled by the Holy Kinot, the supreme body of Saint Athos which unites representatives of all twenty monasteries elected for a period of one year, and located in the capital of Athos in the city of Karyes where resides the head of government. Greece in Holy Athos is represented by the Governor who is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece with a small staff and police officers.
In the city of Karyes live around 200 people and in monasteries and other monastic institutions (hermitages, kellies, kaliva, hesychastriums, kathisms), living by very strict rules 1,700 monks - they do not eat meat, do not smoke, do not wear open clothes and do not even bathe in the sea and in many monasteries there is no electricity.
For pilgrimages to Mount Athos there are strict rules - only males older than 12 years old are allowed whose appearance should look appropriate: pants, long-sleeved shirts, short-cropped hair. To enter the Holy Place, you need to get a special visa - permission, in the representation of the Mount Athos in the city of Thessaloniki or Ouranoupolis - from where ferries take pilgrims to Monasteries.
Every day Mount Athos receives only 120 pilgrims of the Orthodox faith and only 12 non-Orthodox. A visa is issued for up to 4 days and in each monastery you can spend the night only once. At each monastery there are special rooms where pilgrims live and monks help with absolutely everything. Overnight and meals for pilgrims are free but donations in the form of purchases of books and icons from monks are welcome.
For women is forbidden to step on the Mount Athos but for those who would still like to join the holy place, near with the Athos in the village of Souroti located the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, founded by the elder St. Paisius from the Mount Athos where the nuns live according to strict Athos rules, and to the north of Athos, near the small village of Porto Lagos is the Monastery of St. Nicholas and the Church of Panagia Pantanassa, which is the courtyard of the Vatopedi Monastery in Mount Athos. These holy places are open to both men and woman.