Mount Athos is situated in the eastern and most enchanting third peninsula of Halkidiki, which is called the peninsula of Athos. It is the only place in Greece, which is totally devoted to praying and worshiping God and thus, it is called the Holy Mount.
The Holy Mount or the Mount Athos has about 50 Km length, 8 to 12 Km width and it covers a surface of about 350 square kilometers.
The Spirit of Mount Athos
The borders of the monasterial city are set on the ground by an imaginary line that begins from the location “Fragokastro” on the West coast and reaches the cape “Arapis” on the opposite side. The natural beauty of the peninsula is wonderful.
The Mount Athos that dominates there is an enormous cone of 2.033 meters height. It’s bare top that seems to be piercing the sky and its slopes, which are full of old evergreens, give the area a unique natural beauty.
Mount Athos is a self- governed division of the Greek state. Politically it comes under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but religiously it comes under the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. It has been divided into twenty self- governed territories.
Each territory consists of a leading monastery and some other monastic settlements around it (hermitages, cells, huts, seats). All the monasteries are communes, which means that the monks have a common liturgy, prayer, housing, board and work.
The Abbot of the monastery, who is elected by the monks for life, is in charge of the monastery. The Abbots of the monasteries are members of the Holy Assembly and exercise legislative authority.
Furthermore, every year the monastery elects its representative in the Holy Community, which exercises administrative authority, while the Holy Supervision exercises executive authority and is consisted of 4 members, elected by the first 5 leading monasteries.
Good to Know
Mount Athos, comprises today monastic foundations which can be divided into six categories; monasteries, skites, cells, huts, seats and hermitages. The number of the monasteries- which cannot be increased or decreased-is twenty.
The Skites are groups of monks’ houses which have been founded in a monastery’s area. The founding is done by a Monastery’s Act and is ratified by a decree from the Patriarchate. The number of the monks has been defined by the Act of Founding.
THE CELLS (KELLIA)
The Cells of Agion Oros are foundations with one temple and a building which consists of cells and auxiliary rooms. Head of the cell is the Old-Man and the rest are his attendants. The number of the monks cannot be more than nine.
THE HUTS (TA KALIVIA)
The huts are small and isolated residences for two or three monks which have been granted to them for life by the monastery to which the territory belongs. The monks in the huts support themselves with their handiwork.
THE SEATS (TA KATHISMATA)
The seats are small huts with only one monk. The monastery grants the seat to the monk. He lives for life there and he takes from the monastery only the absolutely essential food which is called coumbana.
The hermitages are small seats. They are at deserted and sacred places, sometimes on rocks and inaccessible summits and sometimes in caves and clefts of rocks where the monks establish their inaccessible refuges. They live there on fasts, wakefulness and endless prayers, studying the Testaments and the phenomenon of death.