the holy mount athos

The History Of Mount Athos


According to mythology the name Athos belongs to a Thracian giant. During the conflict between the Gods and the Giants, Athos threw a huge rock against Poseidon (the God), but the rock slipped through his fingers and fell to the sea creating a huge block of land which is now Mount Athos. In a different version it was Poseidon, who threw the rock against Athos. The rock crushed Athos and buried him underneath. This rock was called Mount Athos.

Mount athos sithonis
A view to Mount Athos from Sithonia


Up to the 3rd century BC, there were five large and thriving ancient Greek cities in the peninsula, which had name Akte then. There were two colonies of people from Limnos – Dium and Olophyxus; cities of Cleonae, Acrothoon and Thyssus were built by group of people native to this area.

The inhabitants of Acrothoon were famous for their longevity. The legend says that the Gods of Olympus got enraged with their utter disrespect to the gods and send on them an earthquake that destroyed totally the city.

After 368 BC the peninsula was under the rule of Macedonians and their king Phillip the Second, later of Alexander the Great. The legend says that Alexander declined the offer of one of his architects, who wanted to create his giant figure on the slop of the mount Athos, saying that one unsuccessful display of king’s arrogance nearby is enough for this territory, meaning the Xerxes Canal, a navigable canal through the base of the Mount Athos, built on order of Persian king, used once and then forgotten.

The territory of peninsula as the rest of Greece went through the ruling of Roman and then Byzantine Empires, multiple raids of barbarian tribes, its cities fell into decay or were destroyed, resulting in a deserted area for many centuries.

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The history of Mount Athos from the 4th century to the 14th century

The history of Mount Athos from the 15th century to the 18th century

The history of Mount Athos from the 19th century to the 20th century