Sailing by Mount Athos
26th May 2016
There is little that can compare to the experience of sailing around the Eastern Mediterranean on board the Star Clipper, Star Flyer or Royal Clipper. After a fabulous day of exploring a range of hidden gems that are generally too small for larger cruise ships to access, you can round off each day by watching the Mediterranean sunset across the horizon. There are many stunning Greek, Turkish and Balkan destinations which can be explored on board one of the many Eastern Mediterranean itineraries.
On select itineraries, you will be able to visit the Greek town of Ouranoupolis – which is also known as the “City of the Heavens”. During this journey, you will pass perhaps one of the most religiously important locations on earth – where 2,000 monks from across Greece and other Eastern Orthodox nations presently reside. Mount Athos, otherwise known as the “Holy Mountain”, is isolated from the rest of the world, making it an ideal location for such a large-scale religious landmark.
It is so isolated that only 100 male Orthodox and 10 male non-Orthodox visitors are permitted to enter Mount Athos each day. Women and children are not admitted into the territory and are required to stay in the nearby town of Ouranoupolis. There is also a strict procedure in place for which to gain entry, with hopeful visitors requiring a diamonitiria (permit to stay as a pilgrim).
Since 1054, during the Byzantine era, Mount Athos has been recognised as an autonomous site of religious significance and, in 1988, was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. The area has long been recognised for its natural beauty, which has been maintained during the construction of the monasteries. This means that the site is of both natural and cultural significance.
Very few historical documents of Mount Athos exist, but monks are thought to have resided on the mountain since the fourth or third centuries. According to Athonite tradition, it is believed that the Blessed Virgin Mary was sailing from Cyprus to Lazarus, accompanied with St. John the Evangelist, when they were blown off course and forced to dock in the port of Klement. Mary walked ashore and was immediately overwhelmed with the natural beauty, so much so, that she blessed it and asked her son for it to be her garden.
Arguably, the best way to see this iconic location – certainly the easiest – is from afar whilst on board your star clippers tall ship. Upon witnessing Mount Athos, you will be blown away by how harmoniously the natural beauty and architectural structures sit together. Although this is only a “sail by” this is sure to be one of the highlights of your Eastern Mediterranean cruise.
Whether you decide to experience the Eastern or Western Mediterranean, Caribbean or Far East Asia, a cruise with Star Clippers is an experience that you will never forget. Whilst modern cruise ships offer an increasing number of amenities, Star Clippers provide a nod to a bygone era of historic tall ship sailing, where the wind gently pushes you from one destination to the next.