See the Mount Athos Byzantine Monasteries in Greece

99.8% of the time I am overly content with being a woman. But, while traveling through Halkidiki, Greece I encountered that .2%. Due to my genetic femininity I would only be able to witness the breathtaking Mount Athos Byzantine monasteries from a minimum of 500 meters away. That’s a whopping 1640 feet to us Americans, 140 meters longer than the largest cruise ship in the world or the length of 4 1/2 football fields. You get the idea?

Mount Athos is an UNESCO World Heritage site located on the Easternmost “finger” of the Halkidiki peninsula and there are 20  monasteries that call it home. Men have to have special permission to visit this holy land, while women must keep their distance. No exceptions.

For just one day, I wish I were a man.

Even though I could not step foot on this spiritual  place, I still felt fortunate to be able to see it first hand, even if it required a boat and a pair of binoculars.
Ouranoupolis, Halkidiki Greece

We drove to the tiny village of Ouranoupolis, the gateway to Mount Athos and heavily influenced by the holy mountains. Instead of shot glass souvenirs, it is filled with spiritual iconic wall hangings, fragrant incense and colorful crosses. This is where we would be catching the boat that was a necessity in order for the women to see this range surrounded by the Aegan sea.
Mount Athos Byzantine Monasteries

Due to the tip of an insider, I chose to sit on the left hand side of the boat, bottom floor. This was the spot for the best photos and no sunburn. Double bonus.

As the boat parted the dock, the commentary over the loud speaker began and continued throughout the ride. It would be 45 minutes before we reached the first monastery, but the preparation for what we were about to see came early.
Boat for the Mount Athos Byzantine Monasteries

Mt. Athos is 363 square miles and there are 2,300 monks who live in this place dedicated to prayer and the worship of God.

After the 45 minutes and passing several small structures that I mistakenly thought were monasteries, we came upon the first one. When we saw it, all doubt was removed.

There was no missing it’s grandness and spiritual cross adornment.
Boat for the Mount Athos Byzantine Monasteries in Halkidiki, Greece Boat for the Mount Athos Byzantine Monasteries in Halkidiki, Greece

After the first, there came about a dozen more and for the next hour we rode along the shoreline of the peninsula, monastary hopping. You would think that it would get monotonous and dull, but it didn’t.

Each monastery was unique: some were built into the hills, others were colorful and one housed what is said to be the largest bell in Greece.

All were a stunning spectacle.
Boat for the Mount Athos Byzantine Monasteries in Halkidiki, GreeceBoat for the Mount Athos Byzantine Monasteries in Halkidiki, Greece

Even though I will never be able to enter the confines of this sacred place, a sense of gratitude will always exist for being able to witness its beauty from afar.

. . . Read More. . .

Santorini Bucket List: 18 Things To Do
29 Traditional Greek Foods You Must Eat in Greece
See the Mount Athos Byzantine Monasteries in Greece
Take a 4×4 Jeep Adventure Through Central Greece
See a Movie at an Open Air Cinema in Santorini
Eat a Greek Salad in Greece
5 Greek Islands You Should Definitely Explore This Year
Have a Romantic Sunset Dinner Overlooking the Santorini Caldera

DETAILS: If you are a male, you must apply for a pilgrim’s pass in order to step foot on Mount Athos. Here is more information about the application process. For females, Athos Sea Cruises will take you on a tour of the Byzantine monasteries for 20 Euros.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Hakidiki Tourism, but all the words I write come straight from my, sometimes distorted, mind. Just as it should be.




2017-04-25T15:13:17+00:00 July 11th, 2014|Categories: Europe, Greece, TRAVEL|Tags: , , |

12 Comments

  1. Julie MmcCabe July 11, 2014 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Beautiful Photos and story, thank you for sharing!

  2. Ahhh! That sounds awful. It’s enough to make me wish that I was a man for a day too. ONLY one day! The photos are beautiful.

  3. Ashley @ QLCC July 12, 2014 at 10:23 am - Reply

    I am pretty sure I say this eery time, but every time it is true–my goal in life is to be able to travel as much as you! These pictures are amazing.

    And I wonder how many women have cross-dressed in order to see this sight… 😉

    • Annette White July 12, 2014 at 11:42 am - Reply

      Now there’s an idea! I’m sure with a baseball hat, fake moustache and a little creative makeup…

      I have to say that I feel so incredibly fortunate to be able to travel as much as I do, but it did take lots of time and effort to get to this point. Now I just have to worry about maintaining this lifestyle!

  4. Kevin @ Guess This City July 14, 2014 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Those are some really good pics but it is a shame that you could not go inside. I like this idea of dressing up like man to go inside but I would not like to see what would happen if you got caught.

    • Annette White July 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm - Reply

      Knowing me my fake moustache would fall off in the middle of a monastery!

  5. Ranthambore July 14, 2014 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    Annette this is looks like a India’s places as i visit at Haridwar….

  6. Hotels In Ranthambore July 21, 2014 at 2:45 am - Reply

    awesome photography here, do enjoy the all tour of india

  7. Halkidiki, Greece 2014 September 29, 2014 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    […] See the Mount Athos Byzantine Monasteries in Greece […]

  8. Volunteer Nepal Monastery April 26, 2017 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    Beautiful lakes, city and the hill houses. Nicely taken pictures.
    Thanks for sharing this post!

Leave A Comment