For many travelers, the same as for the Greeks themselves, Halkidiki is another name for rest and fun, clean sea, wide sandy beaches, small picturesque islands and cozy bays. And this is true when it comes to Kassandra and Sithonia. However, Halkidiki also has a third peninsula — Athos, where every year thousands of people come for a completely different purpose.
Athos is first of all the monastic republic. People come here to pray, venerate numerous shrines and feel a little closer to God.
The autonomous monastic state of the Holy Mountain is an independent republic with internal autonomy. It is quite not easy to get here: women are not allowed to enter Athos, and men need to get a special visa before visiting it — Diamonitirion. This can be done at the Mount Athos Pilgrim’s Office — it is located in Ouranoupolis, the last settlement before the border of the Holy state.
The Pilgrim’s office issues no more than 100 visas per day for Greeks and pilgrims of the Orthodox faith. For representatives of other religions, this number should not exceed 10. However, this rule does not apply to Idicon, a type of Diamonitirion that is actually an invitation to a particular monastery.
It will be interesting to know that the price of a visa depends on your religion: for Orthodox Christians the cost is €25 and for non-Orthodox and representatives of other confessions, it costs €30.
In order to get Diamonitirion, you need to appeal to the Pilgrim’s office no later than a few months before the expected date of travel. During the summer season, it is better to submit documents as early as possible, since the Pilgrim’s office may delay issuing of a visa because of the high overload. In order to save time, you can appeal to private companies that cooperate with the Athos pilgrim’s office. They will help you to receive a Diamonitirion in a few days.
The application is made through the Pilgrim’s office located in Thessaloniki. You must provide the following information about yourself: full name, date of birth, details of the identity document (including the date of issue/expiration and the name of the authority that issued the document) and the date of entering Mount Athos.
You can apply for Diamonitirion registration remotely, but you need to pick it up personally at the Pilgrim’s office in Ouranoupolis by presenting a valid identity document.
You can take the visa in hand no earlier than the day of entering mount Athos. You must arrive at the Pilgrim’s office no later than 11 a.m.
It is not difficult to find the Mount Athos Pilgrim’s office: it is located at the exit from the central road of Ouranoupoli. Entering the city, you will need to turn towards the sea immediately after the large municipal parking lot.