The most eastern part of Halkidiki is mount Athos, known as the Holy Mountain as it is the home of Orthodox monks. There are 20 Orthodox monasteries, including one Serbian, Bulgarian and Russian monastery and acts as an authonomous state under Greek sovereignty. Only monks are allowed to live on the Holy Mountain, and currently it houses around 2000 monks. First hystorical document testifying about the monks on the Holy Mountain dates back to the first half of the 9th century. This pillar of Orthodoxy, spiritual and cultural life has survived horrific disasters that occasionally ruined the tranquility of the place. Only men can visit the Holy Mountain if they are granted a permission which is hard to obtain, and they can stay over night only if it is pre-arranged with a monastery. By the rule which is strictly followed, known as ”avaton”, women are not allowed entrance. Majority of tourists find a way to visit the Holy Mountain by looking at it through cameras and from boats.
The majority of monasteries were built on the coast of the Holy Mountain, and together with magical nature form a picture that will take your breath away. Exceptional works of art in ancient monasteries make living museums out of them. Most of them have huge collections of manuscripts, icons and golden and silver objects.
Main tourist resorts are situated around Ouranoupolis and Ammouliani island. Those who take longer vacations can explore the surroundings of exceptional beauty. Athos is the only monastic state in the world, opposite Ammouliani archipelago, and together with the seventeen sandy islands it boasts of, it reperesents an undiscovered paradise for tourists who respect tradition and family and love peaceful and quiet vacation.