"Greek or Serbian" Aghion Oros (Mount Athos) by etfromnc
Aghion Oros (Mount Athos) Travel Guide: 40 reviews and 268 photos
Known as the Holy Mountain, Mt Athos is a self-governing community of 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries sprinkled around the slopes of 2033 meter high Mt Athos on Greece’s Chalkidiki Peninsula. A strict entry-permit system applies: 100 Orthodox pilgrims and 10 non-Orthodox visitors are allowed in at a time; only men over 18 years of age can visit; permit applications from non-Orthodox visitors must be made at least six months ahead; and diamonitiria (permits) usually allow stays of just four days. The Holy Mountain is reached by boat, and you then walk between monasteries, each of which contains a guesthouse.
When I lived on the island of Crete, I became acquainted with the Greek Orthodox archbishop of Crete well enough to spend two different days at his palacial retreat in the mountains of Crete, attended a couple Greek Orthodox weddings, and talked often and at length with my secretary about the Greek Orthodox faith but obviously I did not learn very much about the various Orthodox churches. I still do not know whether they are referred to as "denominations," or what. It was during my travels from the 2004 Olympics to Irpen, The Ukraine that I first learned that the famous monastery on Mount Athos was not Greek Orthodox as I had always thought but rather it was Serbian Orthodox. How or why, I am still not certain but have, after several visits to Serbia in the intervening years, learned that in spite of being under Communist rule for over half a century, Serbians are still very devoted to the Serbian Orthodox church and the chief spiritual source of today's Serbian culture is the Chilander (most frequently, in the West especially, you will see that spelled "Hilander" but the best transliteration of the Greek is "Ch---.") Monastery on Mount Athos.
When we were in Belgrade last spring, the host of our hotel told me that Serbian culture in general, and especially Serbian religious culture is a synthesis of Byzantine and Mediterranean cultures and that the primary spiritual source of medieval Serbian culture was the Chilander Monastery, which dates from the late 12th century, and exerted crucial influence on all areas of religious, political, and cultural life in medieval Serbia which lives on to this day.
Although hundreds of miles from Serbia, the Chilander Monastery is today still a Serbian Orthodox monastery, and is considered to be the chief spiritual source of medieval Serbian culture, which brings me right back around to my original state of confusion.
If you would like to help me resolve my confusion, please feel free to comment on my confusion and/or join me as I try to develop a few more pages on the topic of Serbian monasteries and other spiritual sites.
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