Senior Travel to Mount Athos

Aug 10th, 2011 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel

Senior Single Travel for Males

The WSJ (May 21-22, 2011) had  a story about Mount Athos, on the Aegean Sea. I had never heard of this magnificent site. As a World Heritage enthusiast, I just had to check it out for our senior readers. I have inserted several YouTube visits as this is a site that you must see to appreciate. Today Greeks commonly refer to Mount Athos as the “Holy Mountain.” Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece.  It is huge.

As a World Heritage Site it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries.  Well, gentlemen, you may have to take this visit by yourself as women are not admitted and if you don’t have the proper papers they won’t let you on the holy mountain either.  Mount Athos is accessible only by a single boat, the St. Eshpigmenitis. The daily number of visitors entering Mount Athos is restricted and all are required to obtain a special entrance permit valid for a limited period.

Mount Athos is called “Garden of the Virgin” by monks. 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. These monasteries possess holy relics, icons, frescoes and mosaics of great value. Although many have been lost in fires or stolen during raids, a vast array of historical texts, rare documents and manuscripts – all historical heirlooms – are kept in their libraries.  Only males over the age of 18 who are members of the Eastern Orthodox Church are allowed to live on Athos, either as monks or as workers.

Senior Tours Around the Mount

An Orthodox spiritual center since 1054, Mount Athos has enjoyed an autonomous state since Byzantine times. The ‘Holy Mountain‘ is a recognized artistic site. There are sightseeing boats that do tours around the peninsula without landing; these require no permits, and are the only option for women and children who want to get a glimpse of Mount Athos. The layout of the monasteries, about 20 of which are presently inhabited by some 1,400 monks, had an influence as far afield as Russia, and its school of painting influenced the history of Orthodox art.  Mount Athos is said to be “simply one of the most beautiful places on earth.”

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. There are churches with more gold than some countries have in their vaults.

Mount Athos or Agion Oros, as it is locally known, is the oldest surviving monastic community in the world. It dates back more than a thousand years, to Byzantine times. It is a unique monastic republic, which, although part of Greece, it is governed by it’s own local administration. There are virgin forests and wild 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.

Mount Athos is situated in the entire third, eastern and most beautiful peninsula of Halkidiki, called the peninsula of Athos.  The Holy Mount is about 50 Km in length, 8 to 12 Km in width and it covers an area of about 350 square kilometers.  Because of it’s isolation Mount Athos has remained one of the most unspoiled parts of Greece.  The landscape is stunning and wild, with small green valleys and gorges, well wooded peaks interspersed with precipitous ravines and an inaccessible coastline.  So gentlemen, take along your video camera so that you can share your memorable visit with your wife and friends.



Tags: , ,

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.