Mount Athos, also known as the Holy Mountain is an autonomous republic of Eastern Orthodox monks situated at the easternmost peninsula of the Halkidiki in northeastern Greece. In Greek, Mount Athos is called “Agio Oros” which refers to the 2033-meter mountain the Holy Mountain is honored by Eastern Orthodox Christians as a holy land and place of pilgrimage. Mount Athos is occupied predominantly by Greeks, but also brotherhoods of Georgian, Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian, and Serbian monks.
As early as the seventeenth century, the Athonite peninsula, depopulated from the classical ages was settled by hermits. The byzantine emperor recognized Athos as a territory for male hermit monks in 885, banishing from the territory all resident layman and shepherds as well as women and female domestic animals. Cloaked by beautiful chestnut and other type of Mediterranean forest, the steep slopes of Mount Athos are punctuated by twenty imposing monasteries and their subsidiary establishments farming constitutes an important part of the monk’s everyday life.