Halkidiki is the triple-pronged peninsula of Northern Greece. Its famous “legs” are called Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos and are a favourite summer destination for locals and visitors due to its spectacular landscapes and mesmerizing, sandy beaches. The most easterly of Halkidiki, one of the wildest, natural landscapes in Greece, is Mount Athos or Holy Mountain and it’s almost wholly a self-governing Orthodox monastic state for more than 1000 years, listed as a World Heritage Site.
There has been no development apart from 20 major monasteries, 12 hermitages and 700 cells and retreats and, because of this isolation, it’s considered one of the most unspoiled landscapes in Greece. The untamed beauty here is extraordinary. Women are banned from stepping onto monastic land while male visitors need a special permit for visit. Most tourists wishing to admire the monastic community choose the daily boat trips along the west coast of peninsula.
The Athos peninsula is dominated by the massive Mount Athos and its surrounding seas are notorious for strong currents. The Athos tourist resorts are all centred mostly around Ouranoupolis, the premier resort on Athos. Other resorts of the peninsula are the town of Ierissos, a major fishing area noted for its cultural activities and festivals throughout the year, Olympiada, a place of great historical interest being named after the mother of Alexander the Great, the birthplace of Greek philosopher Aristotle Stagira, the picturesque village of Nea Roda with narrow alleys and traditional stone houses, Stratoni, noted for its archaeological finds which include Roman ruins, Arnea, with its traditional houses and the ruins of an ancient civilization, and the only permanently inhabited island of Ammouliani, famous for its fine beaches, with the nearby uninhabited islets called Drenia.
Except from the monasteries of Mount Athos one can also visit a few more sights while here, which are: the 14th century Byzantine Tower of Prosforio in Ouranoupolis, which is the largest and best preserved in the whole of Halkidiki, and the museums of Olympiada and Arnea, which host findings from around the peninsula.