Besides the myths though, Halkidiki has a tradition that goes well back in time. The monasteries of Mt Athos stand tall – as they have done for 1,000 years and will continue to do so as UNESCO World Heritage Monuments. Mount Athos is the third peninsula of Halkidiki and it does not only constitute a World Heritage Site, but it also renders an autonomous entity in the Hellenic Republic. Athos is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries under the direct jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople. Mount Athos has been inhabited since ancient times and it is known for its nearly 1,800-year continuous Christian presence and its long historical monastic traditions, which date back to at least 800 A.D. and the Byzantine era. Today, over 2.000 monks from Greece and many other Eastern Orthodox countries, such as Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia, live an ascetic life in Athos, isolated from the rest of the world. The Athonite monasteries feature a rich collection of well-preserved artifacts, rare books, ancient documents, and artworks of immense historical value.
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