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 adventurous.

 

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