Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain

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Byzantine Imperial flag, also used by the Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain

The Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain (Greek: Αυτόνομη Μοναστική Πολιτεία Αγἰου Όρους, Aftonomi Monastiki Politia Agíou Orous) is an autonomous republic of Orthodox monks inhabiting 20 monasteries and dependencies (skítes), The first monastery dates from 963 and the last was build in 1548. The capital is Karyaes (Kariaí). It's located at the famous peninsula Oros Athos, also known as "Holy Mountain" or "Garden of the Virgins" that extends from the coast of Macedonia into the Aegean Sea, in the northeast of Greece, a little south of Thessaloniki.

Women are not allowed in the Monastic State, even female domesticated animals are forbidden, with the exception of chickens who provide fresh egg yoke necessary for the paint in iconography. Though land-linked, Mount Athos is accessible only by a single boat, the St. Eshpigmenitis. The daily number of visitors entering Mount Athos is restricted and all are required to obtain a special entrance permit valid for a limited period. Only males are allowed entrance into Mount Athos, which is called "Garden of the Virgin"by monks and Orthodox Christians take precedence in the permit issuance procedure. Only males over the age of 18 who are members of the Eastern Orthodox Church are allowed to live on Athos, either as monks or as workers.[1]