Mount Athos
The Holy Mountain

Day 1 - We had a very comfortable night in the Hotel Zeus, which is centrally located in the main street near to the bus and ferry terminals, and with a wide choice of nearby restaurants. We caught the first boat to Dafni, and from there visited the Xiropatamou Monastery which is fairly close to the port. It is not much visited because most people take the bus straight through to Karyes, the administrative capital of the Holy Mountain.

Waiting for the ferry

The beach to the south of the town

The main street of Ouranopolis
The authorities of the Holy Mountain want to encourage genuine pilgrims while detering mere tourists. There is a quota of 100 Orthodox pilgrims a day, and 10 non-Orthodox. mechanism for enforcing the quota is a two-stage one: you first apply to an office of the Greek government in Thessaloniki (which you can do by post) and, once you have been put on the quota for the day you wish to enter, you present yourself to the office of the Holy Executive of the Holy Community of Mount Athos (below right) and are given a "Diamanterion" which is your permission to enter the Holy Mountain. You have to present this document to get on the boat to Mount Athos. (There was an ancient road connection, but this has not been open for many years past). You may be asked to show the Diamanterion when you arrive at some of the monasteries, and at most of them you are expected to write its number in the guest book.

Loading the ship to Dafni

Ouranopolis from the sea

The top deck (with sun awning)

The ancient Byzantine tower in Ouranoplis

Dafni from the sea

Milling crowd at the Customs office prior to embarkation

Lots of low walls to watch life go by

Courtyard in Xirapotamou Monastery

The arms of the Holy Mountain community

The only sundial we found in Mount Athos


Distant view of Dafni

The "frontier post" for Vatopedi - if you had not booked for that night at the monastery, you had to walk back to Dafni!

We decided to walk from there down to the monastery, and came across these solar panels on the path.

The path as rather overgrown

but had banks of broom (author for scale)

First view of Vatopedi

A fine ceiling

View from our dormitory for 3

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