Mount Athos plus Cruise

Day trip to the heart of the Orthodox monastic life which beats for more than 10 centuries

Live a unique experience with the summer breeze that travels you while being on board to Mount Athos. During the cruise, you can admire eight of the twenty Holy Monasteries of Mt. Athos, situated in the west coast of the peninsula of Athos, in Sithonia bay. The cruise continues to the beautiful island of Ammouliani, which is the unique inhabited island in Chalkidiki; very popular for the crystal-blue water of the sea and the white sand beaches, all of them awarded with the blue flag.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ouranoupoli
  • Cruise around Mt. Athos
  • Every Tuesday: Ammouliani island
  • Every Thursday: Alykes beach (in Ammouliani island)
  • Every Saturday: Ierissos beach

Bring your swimwear! Swimming in the crystal-blue sea is included!
Women can also participate in the Mount. Athos Cruise!

STARTING POINTS AND DEPARTURE TIMES

  • Starting point: WHITE TOWER(Entrance) 08:00
  • Stop 1: MAKEDONIA PALACE HOTEL 08:05
  • Stop 2: ARISTOTELOUS square & EGNATIA (Venizelos Statue) 08:15
  • Stop 3: CAPSIS Hotel 08:20
  • Stop 4: THE MET Hotel 08:25

EXCURSION DURATION

  • 11 hours (5 hours on the road)

DESCRIPTION OF THE EXCURSION

We depart to Ouranoupoli with the bus of Ammon Express along with our friendly trip attendant-archaeologist,

at 08:00 from the White Tower,

at 08:05 from the hotel Makedonia Palace,

at 08:15 from Aristotelous Square & Egnatia Street (at the statue of Venizelos),

at 08:20 from hotel Capsis and

at 08:25 from The Met Hotel

The route is 140 km and takes about 2 ½ hours.

The distance is 140km and lasts approximately 2 ½ hours.

We reach Ouranoupoli at around 11:00a.m, in front of the Byzantine Tower of Prosforion; a trademark of the city, and we board the ship for the enchanting cruise around Mount Athos. Mt. Athos is an independent monastic state with a history of more than 1.100 years old and nowadays consists of 20 monasteries where among there is one Russian, one Serbian and one Bulgarian. It’s an absolute experience that you can’t miss!

During the cruise through the west coast of Mt. Athos, we have the chance to see from a short distance and in turn, the ports (tarsanades) of the Holy Monasteries of Hilandar and Konstamonitou, the colorful Monastery of Docheiariou, the nearby Monastery of Xenophontos, the renovated Holy Monastery of Saint Panteleimon’s – the Russian monastery – the Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou, the main harbor of Mount Athos called Daphne, the impressive Holy Monastery of Simonos Petras (or Simonopetra) and the Holy Monasteries of Osios (Saint) Grigorios, Dionysios and Agios (Saint) Pavlos (Saint Paul’s), scattered along the verdant western coastline of the Mount Athos peninsula. Lastly, we can see the skete of Agia Anna (Saint Anne’s skete), just below the imposing Mount Athos, which stands magnificent at 2.000meters above sea level. Please find below the details of the schedule for each day.

Later we visit:

EVERY TUESDAY*: The small island of Ammouliani, where we have free time to enjoy our swim in the emerald sea and to taste the traditional lunch. Ammouliani is a verdant island, with a picturesque port, traditional alleys, with the typical architecture of Mt. Athos dispersed around the island and serene waters that amaze every traveler.

EVERY THURSDAY*: The Alykes Beach in the island of Ammouliani, where we have free time to enjoy our swim in the emerald sea and our lunch in a picturesque tavern right on the coast, in front of the sea. Alykes is the most popular beach in Ammouliani and you can’t miss the chance to swim into its turquoise crystal-clear water.

EVERY SATURDAY**: The neighboring town of Ierissos, where we have free time to enjoy our swim in the crystal-clear sea in one of the most beautiful beaches in Chalkidiki, our coffee on the sun beds of the endless sandy beach, or our lunch at one of the traditional seafood taverns by the beach.

*Every Tuesday and Thursday the cruise is realized by a glass bottom ship that gives us the opportunity to see the endless seabed. The cruise reaches the port of Daphne, situated in the middle part of the third “finger” of Chalkidiki, so that we have the chance to see half of the Monasteries mentioned above. Later the cruise continues to the wonderful island of Ammouliani.

**Every Saturday the cruise is realized with the ship “Calypso” which reaches the edge of the “finger” and you have the chance to see all the monasteries of the west coast of Mt. Athos. Later we visit by bus the village of Ierissos where we can either enjoy our swim in the beautiful beach or have a lunch break at one of the traditional taverns of the village.

We depart to Thessaloniki at around 17:00p.m and we are back after an 2 ½ hours, making the same stops where we started from.

THE PRICE OF THE EXCURSION INCLUDES

  • Round-trip transportation to Ouranoupoli – Chalkidiki
  • The 3-hours cruise around Mt. Athos
  • English speaking trip attendant
  • Basic travel insurance (during transport)

NOT INCLUDED

  • Cost of lunch at the restaurant
  • Personal expenses

The peninsula of Athos (the “third finger” of Chalkidiki) became an exclusive place of ascetics in the second half of the 9th century AD. At the same time they defined the borders of the monastic state and denied entry to non-clerics, and two centuries later officially denied entry to women, even including even the harem of the local Turkish “aga”. The region continues to be inaccessible to women until today.

Mount Athos is the name that was systematically used around 1100 AD, heyday during which the Great Lavra – the largest organized community – numbered 800 monks and a total of 180 operating monasteries. One of the oldest monasteries of Mount Athos are the Xeropotamou Monastery, Iviron Monastery, Vatopedi Monastery, Esfigmenou Monastery and Libra Monastery, like Athos Protaton, one of the oldest monastic settlements of the peninsula of Athos.

The Mount Athos community was strengthened during those years when monasteries began to accumulate wealth through donations of the believers and the subsidies of the state. As a result the phenomenon of greed of the clergy appeared, as they behaved as large landowners in the acquired land. These areas were leased to peasants who cultivated them and thus a large crowd of people came to depend indirectly from the monastic community.

A black page in the history of Mount Athos is the era of the 4th Crusade in 1204 AD, during which Latinos crusaders, except for the damage they caused to the monasteries, tortured and hung the monks until they managed to come under the protection of Pope Innocent and to save their lives. Next big blow that the monasteries received was a century later, when mercenaries of the Catalan Company plundered the estate of the Mount Athos and terrified the monks, leaving from the total of 300 monasteries only 35 in operation. In the last centuries of Byzantium, the Athos monasteries obtained the largest part of their material wealth, through support of the Byzantine emperors, as well as Slavic rulers and princes.

During the early period of Turkish rule the monasteries of Mount Athos continued to flourish, exempted from taxes and maintaining their property, however since the 16th century AD unbearable taxation was imposed that led to stagnation and abandonment of most monasteries. Valuable financial aid during the difficult years of Athos monastic life was offered by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Nordic rulers as of Moldova and Wallachia, and believers. In the area of ​​Vatopedi the famous Athonite Academy that was founded in the 18th century attracted a large number of students for the next fifty years teaching them theology, philosophy and logic.

During the struggle of the Greek nation in 1821, the monasteries of Mount Athos offered great help. They gave money, food, munitions and asylum to families who took refuge there, while about 800 monks fought alongside the fighter Emmanuel Papa in battles against the Ottomans. After the suppression of the revolution in Halkidiki, the punishment of Mount Athos was that the monks and the believers who had sought refuge in it would be slaughtered, that the printing press would be destroyed, looted and many priceless manuscripts would be lost. Mount Athos was finally released in 1912 by the Greek Royal Navy. The reception of the Greek fleet was enthusiastic, as the Greek flag was erected on the peninsula of Athos under the joyful beat of hundreds of bells of the monasteries. At that time 9,000-10,000 monks lived on Mount Athos.

During the Greco-Italian War of 1940 several young age monks asked to take roadmap for the Front, monasteries gave their animals to the Greek army and organized fundraisers to strengthen it. Then, during the German Occupation, the monks hid the relics and manuscripts in the catacombs to protect them from the invader. German scientists came to the Holy Mountain to photograph and study historical documents and manuscripts, and eventually attempted to steal them, but fortunately without achieving it.

The 1000th anniversary since the founding of the Mount Athos monastic community was celebrated with solemnity in 1963. Today about 1800 monks live there. The exceptional natural beauty and tranquility of the ascetic and monastic life attracts every year thousands of visitors.

  • Our trip attendant-archaeologist shall wear clothing with the Ammon Express marking so that he/she will be recognisable easily
  • You should be at the departure point 10΄ before the time indicated in the schedule. The bus cannot remain at designated stops, except for boarding
  • During the cruise, there are available coffees, sandwiches, beers and refreshments (not included in the price).There is also an audio guide, available in various languages.
  • Don’t forget your swimwear, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.
  • Please be consistent with the exact appointment times specified by the Ammon Express escort, so that the excursion will remain unforgettable to all participants
  • Have a nice trip and an unforgettable experience!
  • Don’t forget to share pictures and comments from your experience!