As Europe's only monastic state (since 1060), Mount Athos, Greece, is a truly fascinating area. Located on a peninsula in the Aegean, 100 mi/160 km east of Thessaloniki and 175 mi/280 km north of Athens, Mount Athos is a spiritual center for the Eastern Orthodox Church and is home to 20 monasteries.
Women are not allowed to set foot on the peninsula under any circumstance, and men younger than 21 are not permitted unless certain requirements are met. If you want to visit the area, request permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to traveling. Submitting a request does not guarantee admission, however.
If you are unable to enter the peninsula, you can still get a good look at the incredibly beautiful monastic buildings by taking one of the popular boat trips that sails along the coast. The beaches on the peninsula range from beautiful sand to rocks, but they're quiet and fairly unpopulated.
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