June 18, 2012

Information for Pilgrims to Mount Athos

Holy Administration οf the Holy Mount Athos: 
Pilgrims’ Bureau

Mount Athos, known in Greek as Agio Oros (Holy Mountain), is a peninsula in Halkidiki, Northern Greece. This sacred area contains twenty monasteries including one Serbian, one Bulgarian and one Russian. Although the peninsula of Athos is part of Greece, it enjoys certain autonomy. The "Holy Community" under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Istanbul administrates the region. This administrative body is composed of representatives of the monasteries and maintains an office at Karyes (Iera Epistasia) where all visitors register upon arrival at Mount Athos.

Only adult men and young males accompanied by their fathers are permitted to enter Mount Athos. This rule, which is known as the “avaton”, forbids access to Mount Athos to any female and this is enforced by the law. Moreover, young men who are accompanied by a guardian or adult group leader visiting Mount Athos for educational purpose need the written consent of their parents, verified by an official authority of their country.

In accordance with the procedures established by the Greek Government, foreigners must obtain a written permit to visit Mount Athos from the "HOLY ADMINISTRATION OF THE HOLY MOUNT ATHOS – PILGRIMS’ BUREAU" located in Thessaloniki. Reservations are made six months in advance by phone (+30 2310 25 78) or fax (+30 2310 22 24 24) or e-mail (piligrimsbureau@c-lab.gr ).

The deliverance of this permit is carried out by the "Pilgrims’ Office" branch in Ouranoupolis. Personal appearance and passport /ID is required in order to obtain this permit. A letter of recommendation is no longer required.

The office in Thessaloniki is open from Monday through Saturday (9:00 – 04:00). It is closed on Sundays and official holidays.

The office in Ouranoupolis is open from Monday through Sunday from 07:30 – 13:00.

In general, the "HOLY ADMINISTRATION OF THE HOLY MOUNT ATHOS-PILGRIMS’ BUREAU" issues only ten permits a day for non-Orthodox visitors (foreigners) and 100 for Greeks and Orthodox visitors. These permits are valid for a four-day visit on specific dates. Prolongation of the four-day validity can be issued from Mt. Athos authorities in Karyes. Clergymen should obtain in advance a written consent (Evlogia) from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople by writing to:

The Ecumenical Patriarchate,
Fanari, Istanbul, Turkey,
tel (+ 90 21 25 34 90 37 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting ΔΩΡΕΑΝ +90 21 25 34 90 37 end_of_the_skype_highlighting).

Upon arrival in Ouranoupolis, the port where the boats depart for Mt Athos, visitors must obtain a residence permit "Diamonitirio". This permit allows the visitor to visit and stay at the monasteries of his choice and costs 30 euros. Students who can prove their student status through a school ID pay only 10 euros. Visitors should be in Ouranoupolis no later than 09:00 or the at the dock of Ierissos no later than 08:30. The boat departures are 09:45 (from Ouranoupolis) and 08:40 (from Ierissos). The holder of a permit may proceed to Mount Athos without any other formalities.

The Monasteries do not charge for their hospitality, but donations are accepted. Most of the Monasteries and Sketes require prior arrangements for the accommodation.

Mount Athos visitors should be decently attired. In the event of misconduct, a permit can be withdrawn. Severe penalties are enforced against anyone who attempts to remove religious items from Mount Athos' collections. While taking photographs is permitted, the use of video and movie cameras is strictly forbidden. Also, because hunting is strictly forbidden in Mount Athos, hunting dogs and rifles are strictly forbidden.

Following you can find information on bus and boat schedules and some useful telephone numbers (It is advisable to check timetables before departure because they are subject to change).

BUS TERMINAL TO OURANOUPOLIS: «KTEL CHALKIDIKIS» tel. +30 2310 316 555 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting ΔΩΡΕΑΝ +30 2310 316 555 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, web site www.in-ktel.gr

Thessaloniki – Ouranoupolis (148 km, 3hours).
The first bus is at 05:30.

Ouranoupolis – Daphne: (2hours) at 09:45.
Daphne – Ouranoupolis (2hours) at 12:00.

There is a boat connection with the 06:15 bus from Thessaloniki, as well as with the domestic bus Daphne – Karyes (12 km).

The above information in Greek, here.