Ouranoupoli – seaside resort and port for Athos monasteries

Ouranoupoli – seaside resort and port for Athos monasteries

Our explorations of the so-called three fingers of Chalkidiki also brought us to the third, eastern finger, which is not allowed to be entered or rather only entered with special permission - the monastic republic of Athos.

Monastic Republic of Athos on the eastern finger

greece at 07The Monastic Republic of Athos measures 43 kilometres from northwest to southeast and covers around 336 km² of area where around 1,800 monastic residents live, plus, depending on the season and local season, administrative employees, police officers, business owners and a changing number of civilian workers.

The peninsula, which is a maximum of 8.5 km wide, extends around 6.9 to 9 kilometres further west to the isthmus that was previously cut through by the Xerxes Canal, see our article on the Xerxes Canal.

It is clear that this number of monks and other people have to be provided with many things every day, which has led to brisk trade and corresponding income in Ouranoupoli.

Ouranoupoli – today a commercial port and bathing beaches

greece at 02Over time, the port of Ouranopoli has become the most important transshipment point for supplies to the Athos monasteries.

On the one hand, the monks, goods and visitors enter the monastic republic with their special permit, which is called Diamonitirion, and on the other hand, the monks' hand-made icons, soaps, necklaces and candles return to the place, where they are then mainly purchased by the tourists present become.

greece at 03Ouranoupoli was around 316 BC. Originally an ancient city in the area of today's Trypiti.

It was founded by Alexarchos, the eccentric brother of the Macedonian king Cassander as Strabo mentions in his notes. Alexarchos believed himself to be the sun god Helios and created a new dialect specifically for the newly settled residents of the city.

greece at 05The monastery located southeast of the village was built in the 11th century and was converted into a castle in the 12th century by the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade (Frangokastro, the so-called 'Frankenburg').

In the 13th century, the Ouranoupoli area belonged to the Athos monastery of Vatopedi. In 1344, the monastery built a huge defensive tower on the pier, the Tower of Prosphorion, which is still the landmark of Ouranoupolis today.

greece at 01The predominantly small hotels are located above the coastal road, National Road 16, between Ouranoupoli and Trypiti or Ierissos on or on low hills. Ierissos lies in a plain directly on the coast of the Bay of Ierissos, which is a part of the Strymonian Bay (Orfanos Bay). The hotels offer rooms from March to September, but the number of tourists is rather small. It has been a long time since large numbers of Europeans came to the region as holidaymakers.

Please read as well:

Podgorica – today the cultural centre of Montenegro

The Athos Monasteries Chalkidiki and the Hesychasm Dispute


Life | Outdoors