Mount Athos is situated in the entire third, eastern and most beautiful peninsula of Halkidiki, called the peninsula of Athos. It is the only place in Greece that is completely dedicated to prayer and worship of God. For this reason, it is called the Holy Mount. The Holy Mount is about 50 Km in length, 8 to 12 Km in width and it covers an area of about 350 square kilometres.
Mount Athos raises fascinatingly up to 2033 metres above sea-level, covered with virgin forests of an enchanting natural beauty. This incredible peninsula has universally been the only territory dedicated to the worship of God and the Holy Virgin Mary, “Panaghia”, for over a millenium now and is solely inhabited by monks. In the year 885 A.D., the byzantine emperor Basil the First proclaimed it as exclusive property of the local monks and hermits. The first organised monastery got founded in 963 A.D. A century later, it was ordered that no woman could violate its holiness. This forbidance continues and no woman is allowed to set a foot on the Holy Mount.
Mount Athos is governed by the “Holy Community” a council of representatives from the 20 monasteries with the participation of the Greek State through its representative in Karyes, the capitol city. The executive organ of the “Holy Community” is the four-member “Holy Epistasia” headed by the “Protepistate”. Responsibility for spiritual matters comes under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, while matters of public order and safety come under the representative governor of the Greek state.
On the top of the Mount Athos peninsula lies Ouranoupolis, the Gate of Mount Athos. Ouranoupolis is a divine landscape, combining mountainous and sea beauties, promising unforgettable holidays, especially for the travelers seeking the relaxation, away from the stress of the town. The village seems to be a serene portrait which welcomes the pilgrims and prepares them for their spiritual journey to Mount Athos.
During the day the activities give unique opportunities for swimming or fishing at exotic beaches across Ouranoupolis, on the small isles, which can be visited either by small fishing boats or small speedboats. There are ferry boats which daily set off from the harbor for the Mount Athos cruise. Diving, sea sports, cars and motorbikes for rent are being at the disposal of the visitors. Ouranoupolis is surrounded by a wonderful forest which is being offered for walks and exploration, viewing to the village and Mount Athos. Inevitably Ouranoupolis is the last stop for all pilgrims who wish to visit Mount Athos since they have to collect early in the morning the Diamonitirio, a written authorization and the ticket for the ferry boat.