A fresh look at centuries-old Athonite course of existence.
Few centers, if any, possess the highly concentrated monastic environment that Mount Athos offers to monks and pilgrims. With a history dating back to the 9th century, the Holy Mountain constitutes the heart of the Christian Orthodox ascetic life. In fact it is the only monastic center claiming a continuous, unbroken history for more than one thousand years. Today, about 2200 monks live in the monasteries, hermitages and retreats scattered on this Greek peninsula. Monks abide by the three monastic ideals, the virtues of chastity, poverty and obedience. The day is largely dedicated to prayer, while everyday tasks and duties aid the monks in their ascetic struggle. The area still holds to the centuries-old restrictions, being strictly forbidden to women and only open to male visitors holding a permit. The views, ranging from everyday scenes to yearly events such as the Litany of Easter, display how the “nature of the object” remained unchanged over time.