Mount Athos or Agion Oros(Holy Mountain) is the oldest surviving monastic region in the world, dating back more than 1,000 years. It is self-governing region that occupies the major portion of the Athos peninsula.
Mount Athos has about 20 major monasteries, 12 hermitages and about 700 cells and retreats and, because of its isolation, is considered one of the most unspoiled landscapes in Greece.
The rugged peninsula is only two kilometres wide at its narrowest and 56 kilometres long, with a backbone of mountain peaks topped my Mount Athos at just over 2,000 metres high.
Hidden among the forest gorges and perched in what look like impossible positions are imposing monasteries. The ecclesiastical artwork in the monasteries is both ancient and exquisite, turning them into living museums. Most have extensive collections of manuscripts, icons, and gold and silver objects.
Religious rules are strictly enforced and women are not allowed to set foot on the Holy Mountain. Men are only allowed by hard to obtain permits and overnight visits can only be arranged in advance with one of the monasteries. The great majority of tourists are restricted to boat trips around Athos and viewing monasteries through cameras or binoculars.
Some of the most popular monasteries and churches are:
Other monasteries that are often visited are Agios Dionysios, Agios Pavlos, Chelandarios, Docharios, Esfigmenos, Grigorios, Karakallos, Kastamonitios, Koutloumousios, Pantokratoros, Philotheos, Stavronikitas, Xiropotamos and Zografos.