An Orthodox spiritual centre since 1054, Mount Athos has enjoyed an autonomous statute since Byzantine times. The ‘Holy Mountain’, which is forbidden to women and children, is also a recognized artistic site. The layout of the monasteries had an influence as far afield as Russia, and its school of painting influenced the history of Orthodox art.
Mount Athos has been inhabited since ancient times and is known for its nearly 1,800-year continuous Christian presence and its long historical monastic traditions, which date back to at least 800 A.D. and the Byzantine era. Today, over 2,000 monks from Greece and many other countries, including Eastern Orthodox countries such as Romania, Moldova, Georgia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia, live an ascetic life in Athos, isolated from the rest of the world. The Athonite monasteries feature a rich collection of well-preserved artifacts, rare books, ancient documents, and artworks of immense historical value, and Mount Athos has been listed as a World Heritage site since 1988.
Although Mount Athos is forbidden to women and children, you can take a cruise around the peninsula of Athos by boat, from the ports of Ierissos (47 km away and about 50 min drive from Stavros) or Ouranoupolis (62 km away and about an hour drive from Stavros)