Mount Athos (Αgion Oros), or Holy Mountain, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a self-governed part of the Greek State, administrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Mount Athos consists of 20 Orthodox monasteries and is also known as the Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain. It stands on the eastern peninsula of Halkidiki.
Women are not allowed to enter Mount Athos, only men. Both monks and visitors leave a simple life, without any modern facility. They eat small quantity of food, every day, mainly bread and olives, because they want to exercise their body in deprivation. They stay in the monastery cells or in caves, pray to God and do agricultural works.
The monasteries are rich storehouses of medieval history. You can see paintings from 13 AD, music manuscripts from the Byzantine era, marble sculptures of columns, turrets, chalices, icon screens and exquisite miniatures in gold and silver dating back to the 12th century. Approximately one quarter of all the Greek works in the world are collected there in the form of books and handwritten manuscripts that number some 15,000.
Mount Athos is approached by ferry from Vourvourou, Ouranoupolis or Ierissos. Apart from their passport, foreign visitors must possess a letter of recommendation from their embassy in Athens or consulate in Thessaloniki. Another required document for them is the entry permit from the Administration Division of Church Affairs at the Greek Foreign Ministry in Athens or Administration of Foreign Affairs at Ministry of Northern Greece in Thessaloniki.