Σάββατο, 3 Οκτωβρίου 2009

MOUNT ATHOS near THESSALONIKI









Mount Athos

Mount Athos, or Agio Oros is the monastic center of the Greek Orthodox Church, a state-within-a-state and a living museum and spiritual center of Greece


Saint Pandeleimon Monastery

First of all, if you are a woman you can't go to the monasteries of Mount Athos. Second, if you are a man, and you don't have the proper papers they won't let you on the holy mountain either. Provided you are a man and have secured the nessessary papers you are in for the experience of a lifetime. Mount Athos is simply one of the most beautiful places on earth, more like a fantasy than what we know of as reality. Enormous monasteries, like castles or fortresses dot the coast and appear on the mountain slopes with every bend in the road. There are caves that still house hermits as they have for thousands of years and many simple houses or kelions that have several monks in each and a small church. There are churches with more gold than some countries have in their vaults and icons that perform miracles. There are virgin forests and animals that are found nowhere but the Holy Mountain. There are monks from every country in the Orthodox world and even some from non-orthodox countries. The seashore is perhaps the most beautiful in the Aegean, pristine and rarely used for swimming since monks don't generally go to the beach. There are incredible gardens cared for with a love of nature and of God. For spiritual seekers Athos has the appearance of heaven on earth. Of course being a monk is not all honey and roses. It's a hard life. But it's a fantastic place to visit if you are the right type: male, spiritual in nature, respectful of tradition and adventerous.
From the town of Ouranoupoli at the edge of the frontier between the Holy Mountain and the rest of the world there is a small boat that takes you to the port of Daphne, the official entry point for pilgrims to Mount Athos. There is one bus that goes from the port of Daphne to the town of Karyes in the center of the peninsula. There are a couple shops, one owned by my Dimitri, a friend of my family. The monks are friendly for the most part and love talking, especially hearing about life outside of the holy mountain. Be prepared to be offered a nice glass of tsipuro and then to tell your life story, as many of the monks are quite educated and speak English. The Skete of Profitti Elias was at one time known as 'the American monastery' because of the number of westerners living there.

Port of Daphne

If you are a woman, left behind in Ouranoupoli, take comfort in the fact that there are worse places to be stuck. The town has some nice restaurants and a pretty good beach and has the feel of a decadent outpost on the edge of civilization. You can also take a cruise around the Holy mountian and wave to the monks and maybe your husband or boyfriend. And if by chance he decides never to come back, don't worry. You can still write to him and be sure it will be delivered.

Athos Government and Police Force

Mount Athos Visiting Rules
Basic Conditions for Admission to Mount Athos In accordance with a "Chryssobul" (edict) issued by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomahos, in 1060 A.D. which still remains valid, conditions for entering the territory of Mt. Athos are as follows:
(a) A permit is required for both individuals and groups. This is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate of Churches (at No 2, Zalokosta Street, in Athens, tel: 3626.894) or by the Ministry of Northern Greece, Directorate of Civil Affairs at Diiki- tiriou Square in Thessaloniki, tel. 031/270.092. (b) Women are not admitted into the territory.
(c) Overnight stay is forbidden except for those who have proven religious or scientific interests in the area and are over 18 years old.

If you need assistance try www.athensguide.com/dorian

Monastery of Saint Simonopetra

Monastery of Saint Esphigmenou


Skete of Saint Andrew



Monastery of Saint Dionysiou


Monastery of Saint Docheiariou



Lavra of Saint Athanasios


Monastery of Vathopedi



Monastery of Saint Docheiariou


Monastery of Saint Gregoriou



Monastery of Zografou


Monastery of Stavronikita

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