Mt. Athos as a monastic community was formally founded in 963, when the monk Athanasios established the monastery of Great Lavra, which is still the largest and most prominent of the 20 monasteries. Only monks are allowed to live on Athos and the current population numbers around 1,400.
Visits are possible only for men who are not monks or Greek Orthodox according to a valid order from 1066. At most 10 foreign travellers may receive an entry permit daily, wich has to be claimed beforehand in Thessaloniki. A visitor may stay only 3 days on the island, but only max. 1 day in each selected monasteries.
The procedure to obtain the appropriate permit is complicated and lengthy, especially for non Orthodox visitors. By the way, entry opportunities onto more years already booked in advance! !
Daily cruise: Visits to Aghion Oros
The Monastery was established by Saint Sava and his father Saint Simeon in 1198. Hilandar is the symbol of Serbian originality, cultural and religious continuity, of their deep roots and the particularity of their creative work. Because of its historical and cultural significance, Hilandar still stands out as a spiritual and religious centre of the Serbs. Numerous historical events connected to the Monastery, priceless historical valuables and works of art stored in its treasury, the influence it exerted on the existence of the Serbs, all these facts define it as a sacred place of the entire Serbian history. For 805 years Hilandar has been emanating its light and symbols, being one of the most important centres of the East Orthodox religious culture.
In 1198 Byzantine emperor Alexius III Angelicus allotted the demolished Greek monastery of Hilandar (Chilandari) to monks Simeon (previously, great zupan of Serbia, Stefan Nemanja-Stephen Nemanya) and his son Sava as "an eternal gift to the Serbs". Until now Hilandar has been renovated and developed as an endowment and memorial of all the Serbs. Serbian rulers endowed Hilandar for centuries. King Milutin built the church called Saborna Crkva in Hilandar, king Uros raised the defensive towers. Modern Serbian state, the Republic of Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church take care of the activities and development of Hilandar monastery. Among the Serbs there has always been awareness that Hilandar is an inextinguishable lighthouse the light of which, coming from the depth of history, illuminates the overall being of Serbian people and their way to the times to come.
The legend says that John of Damascus, theologian, was punished with amputation of his hand. As he had been praying devotedly before the icon of Mother of God his cut off hand eventually healed by her grace. In gratitude for what had happened to him he added to the icon the third hand, made of silver. Since then many miraculous cures and magical powers have been assigned to the icon. The others legend says that the icon was brought from Skopje (now F.Y.R.o.M.), when Turks occupied it, close to monastery by donkey on it's back. Whean donkey reached the monastery, it died. Although it is not supposed to be taken out of the monastery, Trojerucica was in Thessalonica in 1993 when 1.5 million believers saw it exhibited.
Hilandar has always been an advanced literary and educational centre. Many works of old Serbian literature were translated or written there.
The library of Hilandar is furnished with over a 1000 precious manuscripts dating from the 12th till the 19th century, most of them Serbian, but there are also Greek, Russian and Bulgarian ones. Not only the importance of their historical and theological contents but also the ornamentation in forms of beautiful initials and miniatures is what makes the manuscripts works
Besides Christian saints, the frescoes of dazzling beauty portray characters from Serbian history: Nemanja, Sava, Milutin, Lazar, Milos Obilic. There are over 1000 icons in Hilandar, the oldest dating from the 12th century and the newest from the 20th century. Seven of the icons are miraculous. They represent a spiritual bond between the monks of Hilandar on one side and God and Christian saints on the other. For 805 years already icon lamps have been burning in front of the icons and the prayers have not stopped. The oldest icon is a madonna- Bogorodica Odigitrija, mosaic from the 12th century. Documents of importance to Serbian and world history can also be found in Hilandar: charters, letters, typicons...
tel. 23770 / 23797
fax 23770 / 23129
This monastery, built in the 12th century, was burned down in fire on 4th March 2004. The entire west wing of the cluster, recently renovated, was destroyed, including a part of the library. The most part of the relics were saved, but the monks lost even their clothes. Great old wall paintings were also lost for ever. The Holy Community of Mount Athos as well as the Patriarchate of Constantinople are making an appeal to help the reconstruction of the Serbian monastery. A bank account has been opened at the Agrarian Bank of Greece ("Agrotiki Trapeza Ellados") to receive donations for this purpose:
Account number: 439-030-020-6957
Please have also a look at the website below:
The next photos are of the 20 Holy Monasteries in their hierarchical order. Phone numbers are useful for the pilgrims to ensure that the monks can offer them hospitality.