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Mount Athos 


Mount Athos

The Holy Mount (Agio Oros) is in the Atho peninsula of Chalkidiki in north Greece. During the antiquity, in this peninsula many Greek towns had prospered, which incorporated in the kingdom of Macedonia in the 4th century B.C. Eight centuries later, in the 4th century A.D., it became part of the Byzantio. It is estimated that during that period there lived the first hermits. A lot of monks in the 7th century find shelter in the Athon. They come from areas of Egypt and Palestine, where at that season the most important monastic centers had been developed. A natural consequence was the organization of the Athon's monarchism to be modulated on these traditional standards. So, it is organized in 'Lavres' (monasteries) and in solitary residences and later in small monasteries, in 'Skites' and in solitary cells. The initial administrative expression of the Athon's monarchism was the 'Chair of the Old people', whose leader was the First. In 963 Saint Athanasios built at the edge of the southeastern side of the Athon's peninsula the Biggest Monastery(Megisti Lavra), the biggest monastery with cenobitic organization. Modulations for the solitary life and special privileges for the Saint Mountain, were instituted and secured during the Byzantine empire. The sustention of the special privileges and the consolidation of some 'favorable' conditions was achieved by the Saint Mountain's monks and after the conquest of Chalkidiki from the Othomans in 1453 and after the capture of Konstandinoupolis, capital of the Byzantium, in 1453. From the constitution of 'Megistis Lavras' and after, there have been a lot of new classifications in the monastic institutions. In the 12th century there are estimated more than 100 monasteries of various bigness. From all these monastic institutions, there are overally twenty monasteries that have been maintained until today, while more ancient monasteries are converted to cells, or are either desolated and abolished. In the 14th century, the Saint Mountain with an imperial golden bull comes and typically under the spiritual province of the Universal Patriarchate of Konstandinoupolis. This century has been marked with the movement of the Hermits. This quietism has constituted the center of the pneumatic life of the Orthodox monarchism , with main representative the Saint Mountain's Grigorio palama. But in the years that followed, often invasions and loots at the monasteries of the Saint Mountain and at the same time suffocating taxation, inflicted definitive or temporary desolation in many of them. Despite all these, a big part of the heirlooms was rescued thanks to the inventiveness and zeal of the monks. These difficult conditions contributed in the choice of this unusual way of living in the hermitages, as well as in the choice of a cell life for a big part of the Saint Mountain's monks. At the same time enough hermitages(Skites) were organized and founded either in form of a settlement or in form of a group. In these difficult days for the Saint Mountain, important was the role, the economic constribution and the influence of Balkan and other countries of the north, in hermitages and cells. It was natural for this influence to be imprinted in the structured environment itself, particularly in the 19th and beginning of 20th century, supplementing the complex Byzantine and post Byzantine architectural mosaic./ In 1912 the release of Saint Mountains took place and from then it constitutes a self-governed part of the Greek territory. Today, the Holy Community, that resides in Karye's, and the twenty sovereign hermitages with their components, continue the same Orthodox monastic tradition of the Saint Mountain. There, the accumulated Saint Mountain's heritage from the one side and the incessant continuation of monarchism from the other side, fairly characterize it as a Live Monument.

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Mount Athos




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