April 25, 2011

Mount Athos on "60 Minutes" - All Episodes

"60 Minutes",
April 24, 2011

Mount Athos: A Visit to the Holy Mountain



Behind-the-Scenes Travelogue to Holy Mt. Athos

"60 Minutes" producer Michael Karzis is the perfect tour guide to take you behind the scenes on the show's Mt. Athos story. Karzis is the son of Greek immigrants and speaks Greek. Those things surely helped as he and fellow producer Harry Radliffe tried to get permission to film a "60 Minutes" story on the otherworldly Mt. Athos, a self-governed peninsula in Greece that's home to 20 monasteries and some 2,000 monks.

But getting permission was no easy task. "The parliament that exists there, the holy community, is the only parliament on the face of the Earth that has been continually in session since the 10th century," says Karzis. "And these are the guys we were looking to get permission from to shoot on Mount Athos."

The Holy Community turned down requests from "60 Minutes." "They said, 'Thank you very much but, get in line,' Karzis recalls. "I mean, the BBC's been knocking on the door for 40 years, the French, the Germans, they've all wanted to come."

They then appealed to the powerful abbots who run individual monasteries on Mt. Athos and finally had a breakthrough.

Watch part one and part two of Bob Simon's report.

"We just built trust," says Karzis. "And they understood that we would do our best to distill the essence of monastic life, the beauty of the place, and what makes Mt. Athos unique in this world."

Once Karzis and Radliffe got their invitation, many more challenges were to come, as you'll learn in this "60 Minutes Overtime" travelogue. It's located in Europe, but Mt. Athos is remarkably difficult to access. The peninsula is only reachable by boat and the surrounding seas can be rough. It's believed that the Virgin Mary herself was shipwrecked there, which is just one of the many things that makes Mt. Athos so sacred to the monks and the thousands of pilgrims who visit each year.

The "60 Minutes" team was also stranded on Mt. Athos when heavy seas hit after the two-week shoot ended. Now back in New York, Karzis and Radliffe still seem moved by their time on the stunning mountain. If you're interested in visiting Mt. Athos as a pilgrim, these "60 Minutes" videos are arguably the best visual record ever created and the best place to start your research.

If you're a woman, these videos may be the only way you'll ever see Mt. Athos. No women allowed.


Extra: Mt. Athos' Autonomy

Extra: Bastions of the Orthodox Faith

Extra: Don't Call It Art!

Extra: Life on Mt. Athos