The Touristic Info informs: Mount Athos - General information about the history

Visit the Athos- monasteries

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Adventure - pirates - seagulls - dolphins - monks and as highlight the Mount Athos with its over 1000 year old history and its impressive monasteries.

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Monk Republic

The monk's Republic of Athos is an autonomous (self), but not sovereign (independent) state. Protective power of the theocratic Republic of Athos is since 1923 the state of Greece. The state of Greece accepts both border and police functions for the Holy Mountain and also secures the Greek citizenship, in any one of the Athos monasteries, for entrant monks from abroad.

However, this is not an option but more or less a forced move to the alienation of the Republic to protect the monks. It is directly said that ot only the monks live in Athos. At least temporarily, many other Greeks live in the Republic. For example, the tavern hosts  doctors, pharmacists construction and foresty workers from Dafni and Caries.

The Greek post office, the telephone company OTE and the electricity suppliers have employees stationed in Athos. And of course Police. Holy Mount Athos has its own police, but it is supported by the state police and the customs. 

The entry requirements for the monk Republic are very strict. Exclusively men receive access. The access is denied to women. The only females on the Holy Mountain are chickens, because some monks need fresh egg yolk for the icon painting.

From this point of view, Mount Athos is a region, in which, for more than 1,000 years, people live and die, but are not born. For heresies (like Benedictines or Franciscans of the Catholic Church), there is not space in the Orthodox Church. Nearly all the monasteries have basic rules of the early Christian church father Basilios of Caesarea, but they also have their own traditions.

Τhe monk's Republic is governed by the principle kinovitis. This includes a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience. All meals are taken together to the convent and adhered strictly to the rules. Until 1990, there were also monasteries, according to the Idiorrhythmie in Athos. 
With this principle, the monks keep their private property, but must also take care for themselves.


So, poor monks live as it were from hand to mouth, while rich friars can even afford a servant. But as you know, there are only convents in Athos. Currently about 2,000 monks live in Athos in accordance to the Julian calendar, the Gregorian our 13 days "lagging behind", in addition to the Byzantine period.

At sunrise the day starts from 0 o’clock to 12 o’clock, at sunset the night starts also at 0 o’clock to 12 o’clock. Since the sunrise and the sundown the time is changing every 4 days. They work for 8 hours, mainly for supplying the monastic communities themselves and serve the pilgrims. These include agriculture, fishing, kitchen, garden and cleaning work. Further work is mainly icon painting, wood carving, book restoration and, of course, calligraphy. They also produce candles and drawn materials for liturgical use.

There are hermits and ascetics living alone in hermitages, small huts or caves, which are somewhere in the mountains of Athos and they are hidden. 
There, they try to live in the strictest monastic asceticism rules.

The distribution of roles in the monasteries is hierarchically graded. At the top there is the head monastery, the abbot, who is supported by an Elder. Each monastery sent someone to elect for one year as an Antiprosopos (an agent) to manage the capital of Athos.

Iera Kinotis, the Holy Community, which is the supreme body of the friar Republic meets three times a week. The Iera Kinotis regulates not only the coexistence of the monasteries themselves, but also for relations with the Greek government and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul.

When monks die, they get buried without a coffin - but only with their gown. The graves are marked with simple wooden crosses. After three years, the mortal remains are exhumed and the skull is washed with wine.

Over its entire history Agion Oros, was sometimes in a less independent status. In any case, it is understood that the Holy Mountain is the center of the Orthodox faith. The monasteries have been complaining for years for not having young monks, although the number of religious brothers is currently increasing again. So there are many complexes of monasteries deserted and dilapidated thereby. Only if once the number of monks at a monastery reduces to less than 6, the state of Athos gives the right to Greece, to take over. 

This will be a first step towards Athos-tourism, a possible idea.












The word Orthodox means "the correct religion" and refers to the contrast of East-Orthodox and Roman Catholics. The Church in the West became increasingly political clout after the western Roman Empire had disintegrated. And the Bishop of Rome finally declared himself as the sole representative of God on earth. Especially in the areas of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, this interpretation found no response. The missions to the Slavs, not least through the introduction of the Cyrillic writing, made Constantinople the center of the Eastern Christianity.
The Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople (formerly Byzantium, now Istanbul) excommunicated each other in1054. This was withdrawn only at the second Vatican Council in 1965.


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