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Mount Athos: A Monk’s lifestyle

Mount Athos: A Monk’s lifestyle

Mount Athos is the holiest site in Greece and for Orthodox Christians. It is an ancient site with a strong monastic tradition. Check out here in detail the monks’ lifestyle.

Mount Athos is a unique mountain in Greece and one of the most important centers of the Orthodox Christian world. It is the home of a massive monastic community of approximately 2,000 Eastern Orthodox Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, and other monks. And in fact, it is the oldest surviving monastic community on Earth.

Today, Mount Athos is regarded as the holiest of sites to the Greeks and one that has its own autonomous ecclesiastical administration.

Most of the monks live within the walls of their chosen monastery. However, some others choose to live in complete isolation and away from any distractions. But generally, monks’ way of life is practically unchanged since the first monks arrived in the ninth century.


For the majority of the monks, prayer takes up most of their time. Even when they are hard at work or eating in the refectory, they are in prayer. Still, services take place in the monasteries’ often beautifully elaborate churches.


It is a common misconception that monks do nothing but pray all day. A lot of the day, they spend it working on the tasks given to them by the abbot. These tasks include cleaning the guest houses for visitors, making wine, preparing dinner, or building and renovating the monastery.


The monks eat silently, often listening to another monk reciting a prayer. Their food is usually quite simple, consisting of vegetables and sometimes fish and accompanied by water or wine. All of their ingredients are made by them.

Sketes life

Some monks prefer to live in a skete, a small community that allows relative isolation. The most isolated part of Mount Athos is Karoulia, where cells hang precariously on the cliff edge with crashing waves hundreds of feet below. Monks may choose this life of complete isolation and simplicity to feel closer to God and be far away from any distractions to their prayer.

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