National Geographic Traveller India
Ouranoupolis Greece Spirituality Island Image Credit: National Geographic Traveller India
Ouranoupolis Greece Spirituality Island Image Credit: National Geographic Traveller India

Faith Moves This Mountain

Soaking in the solitude and spirituality of Greece's Ouranoupolis, the entry point to Mount Athos, home of orthodox Christian monasticism

Vinita A. Shetty

Ouranoupolis is by no means ubiquitous on the Aegean Sea island-hopping trail. This fishing village in Athos, the third peninsula of Halkidiki in northeastern Greece, is too low-key for that. Its streets are not inundated with selfie stick-wielding tourists and on its white beaches, you can go for hours without seeing anyone.

In Greek, Ouranoupolis means the city in the heaven or sky. The island functions as the gateway to the ‘male-only’ sacred mountain of Athos, the heart of Orthodox Christian Monasticism. Its relative obscurity among travellers gives the place an air of mystery. But there’s plenty to discover and indulge here, from adrenaline rushing water sports to stunning medieval architecture.

A HOMEGROWN VIEWPOINT

Efrossini Hatziliadou, a spirited local who works in the hospitality industry, has a tip for any visitor to Ouranoupolis: Get to know its people first. “Warmth, tradition and spirituality are at the heart of our culture. Our community is small, just over a thousand people—we have one pharmacy, one church and one school. What everyone loves about this place is that there is a good combination of different seasons, mysticism is everywhere, the seafood is the best you will ever taste, and you can swim all year round.” Top on her list of mustdo activities is a visit to the tower of An


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