Mount Athos is also called as “The Garden of Virgin Mary”, a name that comes from a beautiful story.

Berg Athos

Mount Athos, a sacred place, wrapped through the centuries with myths and history, religion and art, for a thousand years now, characterized by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. The imposing Mt Athos (2033m) motivated people to connect the high mountain with myths, impersonating it into a giant who once cast a huge rock from Thrace to Chalkidiki, by creating this way Mt Athos, or when Poseidonas, the god of sea cast a rock to giant Athos and killing him. Mount Athos is also called as “The Garden of Virgin Mary”, a name that comes from a beautiful story. When Virgin Mary was traveling with Evangelist John to visit Lazarus, a sea storm obliged them to dock in a safe natural port of the peninsula. Virgin Mary was enthralled by its beauty and asked the peninsula as a present from her son. The very first monks who settled in Mount Athos are reported during the beginning of the 9th century, initially lived in caves, when the monastic way of life changed radically by the arrival of St Efthymios of Minor Asia. In 883 according to an imperial decision monks obtained the right to continue their ascetic life, without any interruption, a right that they kept until nowadays. In the middle of the 10th century the peninsula was officially named as “Agio Oros”, meaning in Greek, Holy Mountain (Mount Athos) St Athanasios the Athonites changed the monastic state through its imposing presence, and caused radical changes. Firstly he provided big governmental funds and then he built the “Basilica”, on the place that the small temple of Protato used to be. Basilica was the outbreak for other great buildings as well, such as the monasteries of Megistis Lavras, Zigou, Iviron, Vatopediou and others. During the 12th century herders who settled in Mount Athos disturbed the monks’ monastic life. A reign intervention expelled all herders and seculars, and forbade the access especially for women, a rule which is still our days strictly observed, known as “avaton”, meaning in Greek impassable. Despite this fact, “avaton” was secured only in the 20th century by the European Community. In 1387 Mount Athos came under the ottoman rule, but in short time came again under the reign of Thessaloniki. In 1423 though was submitted again to the Ottomans, this time voluntarily, ensuring a milder treatment. Using this advantage, monks tried to fortify the section of education and among others to build Athonias, a school which managed to influence with a positive way the bad condition of the education that the enslaved nation was experiencing that period. Despite this fact, in 1821 Mount Athos range itself with Chalkidiki and helped their revolution against the Ottomans, something that paid later a heavy price for it, financially and with lots of victims as well, men, women and children who had found then a safe shelter in Mount Athos. After the end of the revolution, Mount Athos attracted a mass from monks, coming from abroad and different countries such as Bulgaria, Rumania, Russia and others. In 1912 the Greek Navy liberated the peninsula when in 1926 according to the Legislative Edict Mount Athos was announced as an autonomous state of Greece.

In a hierarchical order the monasteries of Mount Athos are:
  • 1. Megistis Lavras
  • 2. Vatopediou
  • 3. Iviron
  • 4. Chelandariou
  • 5. Dionisiou
  • 6. Koutloumousiou
  • 7. Pasntokratoros
  • 8. Xeropotamou
  • 9. Zografou
  • 10. Docheiariou
  • 11. Karakallou
  • 12. Philotheou
  • 13. Simonos Petra
  • 14. Agiou Pavlou
  • 15. Stavronikita
  • 16. Xenophontos
  • 17. Gregoriou
  • 18. Esphigmenou
  • 19. Agiou Panetleimonos
  • 20. Kastamonitou
The sketae are:
  • Prodromou (Megistis Lavras)
  • Agias Annis (Megistis Lavras)
  • Kafsokalivion (Megistis Lavras)
  • Agiou Andreou (Vatopediou)
  • Agiou Demetriou (Vatopediou)
  • Koimiseos tis Theotokou (Agiou Panteleimonos)
  • Prophete Elia (Pantokratora)
  • Timiou Prodromou (Iveron)
  • Agiou Panteleimona (Koutloumousiou)
  • Lakkou (Agiou Pavlou)
  • Evangelismou (Xenophontos)