Greek: Ορος Αθως
What: A monastic community
Located: Northern Greece
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula located in Northern Greece. It is the home of 20 Orthodox monasteries under the direct jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople. It is the oldest surviving monastic community in the world and dates back more than a thousand years. Although part of Greece it is actually governed by its own local administration. Today some 2,000 monks call Mount Athos their home.
It was said that Mount Athos was visited by the Virgin Mary and Mother of God and St. John the Evangelist when their ship was blown off course and forced to anchor near the port of Klement. The Virgin overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the mountain asked her Son for it to be her garden. And a voice was heard that said: “let this place be your inheritance and your garden, a paradise and a haven of salvation for those seeking to be saved”. Since then the mountain was to be the garden of the Mother of God and is out of bounds to any other women.
Life on Mount Athos hasn’t changed much since its byzantine days. The daily lives of the monks is steeped in religious practices and strict Byzantine rules. Their life is divided into three equal parts: one for praying, one for working and one for resting. There are two main meals a day, one at half past ten in the morning and supper at seven in the evening. The food is very basic: salad, beans, vegetables, fish, olives, bread, feta cheese and red wine. At festivals fish is served, never meat. The Julian calendar continues to be followed, which is 13 days behind from the Gregorian calendar used by the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Greek is the main language spoken, although some monasteries speak other languages such as Russian, Serbian and Romanian.
CBS Documentary – A Visit To The Holy Mountain ATHOS, Greece: