Mount Athos

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Mount Athos (Greek: Όρος Άθως) is a mountain and a peninsula in Macedonia, northern Greece, called in Greek Άγιον Όρος (Ayion Oros or Agion Oros ("Holy Mountain.").

In Classical times, the peninsula was called Ακτή (Acte or Akte). Politically it is known in Greece as the Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain. This World Heritage Site is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The peninsula, the easternmost "leg" of the larger Chalcidice peninsula, protrudes into the Aegean Sea for some 60 km at a width between 7 to 12 km and covers an area of about 390 km², with the actual Mount Athos and its steep, densely forested slopes reaching up to 2,033 m. The seas around the end of the peninsula can be dangerous.

Though land-linked, it is accessible only by boat. The number of visitors is restricted and all are required to get a special entrance permit before entering Mount Athos. Only males are allowed entrance into Mount Athos and Orthodox Christians take precedence in the permit issuance procedure. Only males over the age of 18, who are members of the Eastern Orthodox Church are allowed to live on Athos. There are religious guards, who are not monks, that assist the monks, and any other people not monks are required to live on the peninsula's capital, Karyes. The current population numbers around 2,250.

List of settlements

The twenty self-governing monasteries

The sovereign monasteries, in the order of their place in the Athonite hierarchy:

  1. Great Lavra (Μεγίστη Λαύρα, Megísti Lávra)
  2. Vatopedi (Βατοπέδι)
  3. Iviron (Ιβήρων; ივერთა მონასტერი , iverta monasteri) - built by Georgians
  4. Hilandar (Χιλανδαρίου, Chilandariou; Хиландар) - Serbian
  5. Dionysiou (Διονυσίου)
  6. Koutloumousiou (Κουτλουμούσι)
  7. Pantokrator (Παντοκράτορος, Pantokratoros)
  8. Xiropotamou (Ξηροποτάμου)
  9. Zografou (Ζωγράφου, Зограф) - Bulgarian
  10. Dochiariou (Δοχειαρίου)
  11. Karakalou (Καρακάλλου)
  12. Filotheou (Φιλοθέου)
  13. Simonos Petra (Σίμωνος Πέτρα or Σιμωνόπετρα)
  14. Saint Paul's (Αγίου Παύλου, Agiou Pavlou)
  15. Stavronikita (Σταυρονικήτα)
  16. Ksenofondos (Ξενοφώντος)
  17. Osiou Grigoriou (Οσίου Γρηγορίου)
  18. Esfigmenou (Εσφιγμένου)
  19. Saint Panteleimon's (Αγίου Παντελεήμονος, Agiou Panteleimonos; or Ρωσικό, Rossikon) - Russian
  20. Konstamonitou (Κωνσταμονίτου)

The main sketes

Important settlements

History

Antiquity

In the context of Greek mythology Athos was the name of one of the Gigantes that challenged the Greek gods during the Gigantomachia. Athos threw a massive rock against Poseidon which fell in the Aegean sea and became the Athonite Peninsula. According to another version of the story, Poseidon used the mountain to bury the defeated giant.

Herodotus tells us that Pelasgians from the island of Lemnos populated the peninsula, then called Acte or Akte. (Herodotus, VII:22) Strabo reports of five cities on the peninsula: Dion (Dium), Cleonae (Kleonai), Thyssos (Thyssus), Olophyxos (Olophyxis), Acrothoï (Akrothoön), of which the last is near the crest. (Strabo, Geography, VII:33:1) Eretria also established colonies on Acte. Two other cities were established in the Classical period: Acanthus (Akanthos) and Sane. Some of these cities minted their own coins.

The peninsula was on the invasion route of Xerxes I, who had a channel excavated across the isthmus to allow the passage of his invasion fleet in 483 BC. After the death of Alexander the Great, the architect Dinocrates (Deinokrates), proposed to carve the entire mountain into a statue of Alexander.

The history of the peninsula during latter ages is shrouded by the lack of historical accounts. Archaeologists have not been able to determine the exact location of the cities reported by Strabo. It is believed that they must have been deserted when Athos' new inhabitants, the monks, started arriving at some time before the 7th century AD.[1]

Early Christianity

According to the athonite tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary was sailing accompanied by St John the Evangelist from Joppa to Cyprus to visit Lazarus. When the ship was blown off course to then pagan Athos it was forced to anchor near the port of Klement, close to the present monastery of Iviron. The Virgin walked ashore and, overwhelmed by the wonderful and wild natural beauty of the mountain, she blessed it and asked her Son for it to be her garden. A voice was heard saying "Εστω ο τόπος ούτος κλήρος σός καί περιβόλαιον σόν καί παράδεισος, έτι δέ καί λιμήν σωτήριος των θελόντων σωθήναι" (Translation: "Let this place be your inheritance and your garden, a paradise and a haven of salvation for those seeking to be saved"). From that moment the mountain was consecrated as the garden of the Mother of God and was out of bounds to all other women.

Historical documents on ancient Mount Athos history are very few. We are sure that monks were already there since the 4th century, or possibly since the 3rd. During Constantine I's reign (324-337) both Christians and pagans were living there. During the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363), the churches of Mount Athos were destroyed, and Christians hid in the woods and inaccessible places. Later, during Theodosius I's reign (383-395), the pagan temples were destroyed. The lexicographer Esychios the Alexandrian states that in the 5th century there was still a temple and a statue of "Zeus Athonite". After the Islamic conquest of Egypt in the 7th century, many monks from the Egyptian desert tried to find another calm place; some of them came to the Athos peninsula. An ancient document states that monks "...built huts of wood with roofs of straw (...) and by collecting fruit from the wild trees were providing themselves improvised meals..."

Byzantine era: the first monasteries

Theophanes the Confessor (Θεοφάνης ο Ομολογητής, end of 8th century) and George Kedrinos (Γεώργιος Κεδρηνός, 11th century) wrote that the eruption of Thera volcano on 726 was visible from Mount Athos, proving that on that time there were inhabitants on it. Historian Genesios (Γενεσιος) recorded that at the 7th Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea (843) monks from Athos were participating. Around 860, the famous monk Efthymios the Young (Ευθύμιος ο Νέος) came to Athos and a number of monk-huts ("skiti of Saint Basil") are created around his place, possibly near Krya Nera. During the reign of emperor Basil I the "Macedonian" (Βασίλειος ο Μακεδόνας), the former Archbishop of Crete (and later of Thessaloniki) Basil the Confessor (Βασίλειος ο Ομολογητής) built a small monastery at the place of the modern harbour ("arsanas") of Chelandariou Monastery. Soon after this, a document of 883 states that Ioannis Kolovos (Ιωάννης Κολοβός) built a monastery at Megali Vigla. On a chrysobull of emperor Basil I, dated 885, the Holy Mountain is proclaimed a place of monks, and no laymen or farmers or cattle-breeders are allowed to be settled there. The next year, in a royal edict of emperor Leo VI the Wise we read about the "...so called ancient seat of the council of gerondes (council of elders)...", meaning that there was already a kind of monks' administration and that it was already "ancient". In 887, some monks expostulate to the emperor Leo the Wise as the monastery of Kolovos is growing more and more and they lose their peace. In 908, the existence of a Protos ("First monk") is documented, who is the "head" of the monastic community. In 943, the borders of the monastic state was precisely mapped while we know that Karies (or Karyes, Καρυές) is already the capital town and seat of the administration and has the name "Megali Mesi Lavra" (Big Central Assembly). In 956, a decree offered to the Xiropotamou monastery land of about 1/4 of an acre (2 500 m²), which means that this monastery was already quite big.

In 958, the monk Athanasios the Athonite (Άγιος Αθανάσιος ο Αθωνίτης) arrived on Mount Athos. In 962, the big central church of the "Protaton" in Karies is built. In the next year, with the support of his friend, Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, the monastery of Great Lavra was founded, still the largest and most prominent of the 20 monasteries existing today. It enjoyed the protection of the emperors of the Byzantine Empire during the following centuries and its wealth and possessions grew considerably. The Fourth Crusade in the 13th century brought new Roman Catholic overlords which forced the monks to complain and ask for the intervention of Pope Innocent III, until the restoration of the Byzantine Empire came. It was raided by Catalan mercenaries in the 14th century, a century that also saw the theological conflict over the hesychasm practised on Mount Athos and defended by Gregory Palamas.

Ottoman era

The Byzantine Empire was conquered in the 15th century and the newly established Islamic Ottoman Empire took its place. The Athonite monks tried to maintain good relations with the Ottoman Sultans and therefore when Murad II conquered Thessaloniki in 1430 they immediately pledged allegiance to him. In return, Murad recognized the monasteries' properties, something which Mehmed II formally ratified after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In this way the Athonite independence was somewhat guaranteed.

The 15th and 16th centuries were particularly peaceful for the Athonite community. This led to relative prosperity for the monasteries. An example of this is the foundation of Stavronikita monastery which completed the current number of Athonite monasteries. Following the conquest of the Serbian Despotate by the Ottomans many Serbian monks came to Athos. The extensive presence of Serbian monks is depicted in the numerous elections of Serbian monks to the office of the Protos during the era.

Sultan Selim I was a substantial benefactor of the Xiropotamou monastery. In 1517, he issued a fatwa and a hatt-i sharif, "noble edict" that "the place, where the Holy Gospel is preached, whenever it is burned or even damaged, it shall be erected again." He also endowed privileges to the Abbey and financed the construction of the dining area and underground of the Abbey as well as the renovation of the wall paintings in the central church that were completed between the years 1533-1541.[2]

Despite the fact that most time the monasteries were left on their own, the Ottomans heavily taxed them and sometimes they seized important land parcels from them. This eventually culminated an economic crisis in Athos during the 17th century. This led to the adoption of the so called "idiorythmic" lifestyle (a semi-eremitic variant of Christian monasticism) by a few monasteries at first and later, during the first half of the 18th century, by all. This new way of monastic organization was an emergency measure taken by the monastic communities to counter their harsh economic environment. Contrary to the cenobitic system, monks in idiorythmic communities have private property, work for themselves, they are solely responsible for acquiring food and other necessities and they dine separately in their cells, only meeting with other monks at church. At the same time, the monasteries' abbots were replaced by committees and at Karyes the Protos was replaced by a four member committee.[3]

Russian tsars, and princes from Moldavia, Wallachia and Serbia (until the end of the 15th century) helped the monasteries to survive, offering large donations. The population of monks and their wealth declined over the next centuries, but were revitalized around the 19th century. In 1912, during the First Balkan War, the Ottomans were forced out by the Greek Navy.

In June of 1913 a small Russian fleet, consisting of the gunboat Donets and the transport ships Tsar and Kherson, delivered the archbishop of Vologda, and a number of troops to Mount Athos to intervene in the theological controversy over imiaslavie (a Russian Orthodox movement). The archbishop held talks with the imiaslavtsy and tried to make them change their beliefs voluntarily, but was unsuccessful. On July 31 the troops stormed the St. Panteleimon Monastery. Although the monks were not armed and did not actively resist, the troops showed very heavy-handed tactics. After the storming of St. Panteleimon Monastery the monks from the Andreevsky Skete surrendered voluntarily. The military transport Kherson was converted into a prison ship and several imiaslavtsy monks were sent to Russia.

After a brief conflict between Greece and Russia over sovereignty, the peninsula formally came under Greek sovereignty after World War I.

Modern times

The self-governed region of the Holy Mountain, according to the Decree passed by the Holy Community on the 3rd October 1913 and according to the international treaties of London (1913), Bucharest (1913), Neuilly (1919), Sèvres (1920) and Lausanne (1923), is considered part of the Greek state. Later a "Special Double Assembly" of the Holy Community in Karyes passed the "Constitutional Map" of the Holy Mountain, which was ratified by the Greek Parliament. This regime originates from the "self-ruled monastic state" as stated on a chrysobull parchment signed and sealed by the Byzantine Emperor Ioannis Tsimiskis in 972. This important document is preserved in the House of the Holy Administration in Karyes. Independence of the Holy Mountain was later granted again by Emperor Alexios I Komnenos in 1095. According to the constitution of Greece,[4] Mount Athos (the "Monastic State of Aghion Oros") is politically self-governed and consists of 20 main monasteries (which constitute the Holy Community to administer the territory) and the capital city and administrative centre, Karyes, also home to a governor as the representative of the Greek state. The status of the Holy Mountain was expressly described and ratified upon admission of Greece to the European Union (then the European Community).

In modern times, the Mount Athos monasteries have repeatedly been struck by wildfires, e.g. in August 1990, and in March 2004, fire gutted a large section of the Serbian monastery, Hilandar. Due to the secluded locations of the monasteries, often atop small hills, as well as the unavailability of suitable fire fighting gear, the damages inflicted by these fires are often considerable.

On September 12, 2004, the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, Peter VII, was killed, together with 16 others, in a helicopter crash in the Aegean Sea off the peninsula. The Patriarch was heading to Mount Athos. The cause of the crash remains unknown.

The monasteries of Mount Athos have a history of opposing ecumenism, or movements towards reconciliation between the Orthodox Church of Constantinople and the Roman Catholic Church. The Esphigmenou monastery is particularly outspoken in this respect, having raised black flags to protest against the meeting of Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople and Pope Paul VI in 1972 . Esphigmenou was subsequently expelled from the representative bodies of the Athonite Community. The conflict escalated in 2002 with Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople declaring the monks of Esphigmenou an illegal brotherhood and ordering their eviction; the monks refuse to be evicted, and oppose their replacement with a new brotherhood.

Contemplated postage stamp issue

In the winter of 1915 - 1916 the allied forces were considering occupation of the holy mountain. In anticipation of this they prepared a set of stamps which were intended for issue on 25 January 1916 for the use of the Governing body of the Monastic Republic.

These stamps were produced in sheets of 12, (3 rows of 4), on board the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. Six values were produced, ranging up to one shilling, and all were printed in black but on various different paper types.

The design of these stamps consisted of a square border with the name MOUNT ATHOS at the bottom in English, the left in Russian and on the right in Greek. At the top was inscribed THEOCRACY. The denomination appeared at each corner with the English in the lower corners, Greek in the top left and Russian in the top right. The inner section showed a double headed Byzantine eagle with the effigy of the Madonna and child in an oval on its breast.

These stamps have no official status but fall into the category of prepared for use but not issued. Two points of interest arise with these stamps: They are the only issue to bear the currency and alphabets of three different languages. They are the only issue to be produced on a warship in a time of war.

Administration and organization

The Holy Mountain is governed by the "Holy Community" (Iera Kinotita) which consists of the representatives of the 20 Holy Monasteries, having as executive committee the four-membered "Holy Administration" (Iera Epistassia), with the Protos being the head of it. Civil authorities are represented by the Civil Governor, appointed by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose main duty is to supervise the function of the institutions and the public order. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

In each of the 20 monasteries - which today all follow the coenobitic system - the administration is in the hands of the "Abbot" (Igoumenos) who is elected by the brotherhood for life. He is the lord and spiritual father of the monastery. The Convention of the brotherhood is the legislative body. All the other establishments (cloisters, cells, huts, retreats, hermitages) are dependencies of some of the 20 monasteries and are assigned to the monks by a document called "homologo".

Beyond the monasteries there are 12 sketae, smaller communities of monks, as well as many (solitary) hermitages throughout the peninsula. All persons leading a monastic life thereon acquire Greek citizenship without further formalities, upon admission as novices or monks. Visits to the peninsula are possible for laymen, but they need special permission.

Of the 20 monasteries located on the Holy Mountain, 17 are Greek and the other 3 belong to other Orthodox nationalities: the Chelandariou Monastery is Serbian, the Zografou Monastery is Bulgarian and the Aghiou Panteleimonos Monastery is Russian. Among the 12 cloisters, two are Romanian, the coenobitic "Skiti Timiou Prodromou" (which belongs to the Monastery Meghistis Lavras) and the idiorythmic "Skiti Aghiou Dimitriou tou Lakkou", also called "Lakkoskiti" (which belongs to the Aghiou Pavlou Monastery) and another one is Bulgarian, "Skiti Vogoroditsa" (which belongs to the Aghiou Panteleimonos Monastery).

Visiting procedure

Entry to the mountain is usually by ferry boat from the port of Ouranoupolis in the Halkidiki perfecture. Before embarking on the boat all visitors must have been issued a diamonitirion, a form of Byzantine visa that is written in Greek, dated to the Julian calendar, and signed by four of the secretaries of leading monasteries. There are generally two kinds of diamonitirion, the general diamonitirion that enables the visitor to stay overnight at any one of the monasteries but only stay in the mountain for 3 days and the special diamonitirion which allows a visitor to visit only one monastery or Skiti but can stay as many days as he has agreed with the monks.

Most visitors arrive at the small port of Dafni from where they can take the only paved road in the mountain to the capital Karyes or continue via a further smaller boat to other monasteries down the coast. There is a public bus between Dafni and Karyes. Taxis operated by monk-taxi drivers are available for hire at Dafni. They are all wheels drive vehicles since most roads in the mountain are unpaved. Visitor on monasteries on the mountain's western side prefer to stay on the ferry and disembark on the monastery they wish to visit.

Upon arrival at a monastery, the visitor may ask the guest-master if and when they may see and venerate the relics and miraculous icons and may receive a kind of guided tour and information about the history of the monastery. Visitors should not miss the old church of "Protaton" with its exceptional murals and to venerate the miraculous holy icon of Virgin Mary, called "Axion Esti", which is the household icon of the patron saint of the Holy Mountain.

Prohibition of entry for women

In order to reduce sexual temptation, women are completely barred from the peninsula, a fact which has earned a certain amount of fame; even female domestic animals (with the exception, some say, of cats, as well as chickens, which lay eggs that provide the fresh egg yolk needed for the paint used in iconography) are forbidden.

The interdiction is punished by imprisonment from one to two years. The European parliament has urged Greece twice to change this rule, but the demand was rejected.[5]

Athos did shelter refugees including women and girls twice in its history, during the aftermath of the failed 1770 Orlov Revolt and during the Greek War of Independence in 1821.

There was an incident in the 1930s regarding Aliki Diplarakou, the first Greek beauty pageant contestant to win the Miss Europe title, who shocked the world when she dressed up as a man and sneaked into Mount Athos. Her escapade was discussed in the July 13, 1953 Time magazine article entitled The Climax of Sin.[6]

Position towards European Community

For the European Community treaty it is not considered a part of a member state, due to its special status. This has several repercussions. Among other things this means that it does not have the benefit of free traffic of goods in the EC, which means taxes have to be paid if they want to import goods in Greece or elsewhere in the EU. This status is similar to other parts of Europe, such as the Channel Islands.

Culture and life in the Hagion Oros

Architecture

The architectural structure of the monasteries and the coenobitic cloisters consists of a cluster of sequential high buildings, which enclose an inner courtyard. These buildings were also a defensive shield and give the monasteries of Athos peninsula their characteristic castle-like appearance. There are also towers with embrasures. The portal is usually tunnel-shaped for defence purposes, and is closed by heavy iron-sheeted wooden gates. Outside and near the main entrance, there is usually a roomy kiosk with a great view. Near the centre of the paved interior courtyard is the most important part of the monastery, the central church that is called "katholikon", and opposite, to the west, there is the refectory, called "trapeza". Other basic parts of a monastery are the Assembly room and the administration offices, the guesthouse, the monks' quarters, the library, the sacristy. In front of the west entrance of the main church, there exists "Fiali", an ornate marble washstand containing holy water. Within the courtyard, there is a fountain with fresh water. Little chapels are interspersed at various points of the monastery.

The "katholikon" of the Holy Mountain is a cross-shaped building, which, besides the niche of the sanctum, possesses two additional wide niches to the north and south for the choristers. Four pillars support the high central dome. To the west side of the church, between the narthex and the outer peristyle, another room has been added, called "liti", where the "liti" service is performed.

Each monastery or cloister has a small harbour so as to receive supplies by sea. It is called "arsanas" (actually coming from the Latin word "arsenal") and is often fortified by a strong, high tower.

Inside the churches, icon-stands, sacristies and libraries of the monasteries and cloisters, relics and treasures of inestimable value are kept, of devotional, artistic, historical or national importance and for the pilgrims most of them are difficult to access for security purposes.

Art treasures

The Athonian monasteries possess huge deposits of invaluable medieval art treasures, including icons, liturgical vestments and objects (crosses, chalices), codices and other Christian texts, imperial chrysobulls, holy relics etc. Until recently no organized study and archiving had been carried out, but lately a European Union-funded effort to catalogue, protect and restore them is under way.

Languages

Greek is commonly used in all Greek monasteries, but in some monasteries there are other languages in use, in St Panteleimonos Russian (35 monks), in Iviron Georgian (53 monks), in Hilandar Serbian (46), in Zographou Bulgarian (15), and in the sketae of Prodromos and Lacu Romanian (64). Today, many of the Greek monks also speak English. Since there are monks from many nations in Athos (some come as far as Latin America) they also speak their own mother languages.

Hospitality

Traditional hospitality is the most touching and perhaps, today, the hardest task of the monks, because of the increasing number of pilgrims in recent years. The hospitality demand often exceeds the honest intention of the monks and the capabilities of a monastery. It is best to visit Athos in the winter when there are fewer visitors. So it is better, before starting for a specific monastery, to confirm by a phone-call that the monastery is in a position to accommodate you. The visitor resides in the guesthouse (archondariki), and has to respect and follow the monastery's program: praying (services in church or in private), common dining, working (according to the duties of each monk) and rest. If you are on a special diet or fasting or if you want to receive the holy communion (for Orthodox Christians only) please let the guest-master (archondaris) know it in time. During religious celebrations there are usually long vigils and the entire program of the day is radically reshaped. You should ask on arrival about the day (and night) schedule. The gate of the monasteries closes by sunset and opens again by sunrise.

The sketae

Monastic life in the sketae is totally different. Some of them resemble a tidy farmhouse, others are poor huts, others have the gentility of Byzantine tradition or of Russian architecture of the past century. The monk of a cell, having to take care of every life's worry, makes up his program by himself. For the visitor, it is worth experiencing this side of monastic life, but most of the cells have very little or no capacity for hospitality.

There are two types of "cloisters" ("sketae"): the coenobitic skiti and the idiorythmic skiti. The first, both in architecture and life-style, follows the typical model of a monastery. In contrast, the second is rather like a small village, and daily life there is much like that of a "cell", but there are also some duties for the community. Near the centre of the settlement is the central church called "kyriako" (that could be translated "for the Sunday") where the whole brotherhood meets on Sundays and religious celebrations. Usually there are also an administration house, a library, storehouses and a guesthouse.

The Friends of Mount Athos

The Friends of Mount Athos is a society formed in 1990 by people who shared a common interest for the monasteries of Mount Athos. Timothy Ware, auxiliary bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, is the President of the society. Among its members are Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Charles, Prince of Wales, Heir Apparent to the British throne.[7]

Notes and references

  1. Kadas, Sotiris "The Holy Mountain", Ekdotike Athenon, Athens, ISBN 960-213-199-3
  2. Municipality of Stagira, Acanthos
  3. Kadas, Sotiris "The Holy Mountain", Ekdotike Athenon, Athens, ISBN 960-213-199-3
  4. Article 105 of the Constitution of Greece - The regime of Mount Athos.
  5. Is there a monastery in Greece that won't even allow female animals?
  6. The Climax of Sin, Time Magazine, 1953
  7. BBC, Prince visits 'monastic republic'

Bibliography

  • The 6,000 Beards of Mount Athos ISBN 0-85955-251-9 by Ralph H. Brewster. A guide to the peninsula, first published in 1935, detailing the landscape, monasteries, skites, and the life of the inhabitants, including customs and more not usually discussed.
  • Mount Athos ISBN 960-213-075-X by Sotiris Kadas. An illustrated guide to the monasteries and their history (Athens 1998). With many illustrations of the Byzantine art treasures on Mount Athos.
  • Athos The Holy Mountain by Sydney Loch. Published 1957 & 1971 (Librairie Molho, Thessaloniki). Loch spent most of his life in the Byzantine tower at Ouranopolis, close to Athos, and describes his numerous visits to the Holy Mountain. A fascinating travelogue. The famous Molho Bookstore in Thessaloniki may have a few copies left.
  • Dare to be Free ISBN 0-330-10629-5 by Walter Babington Thomas. Offers insights into the lives of the monks of Mt Athos during WWII, from the point of view of an escaped POW who spent a year on the peninsula evading capture.
  • Blue Guide: Greece (ISBN 0-393-30372-1), pp. 600-03. Offers history and tourist information.

See also

External links

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