The Hilandar Monastery
The most information for this article are taken from the official website of the Chilandar Monastery
The procedure for entering the Holy Mountain had been rather complex before, but it is simplified and easier today. The proof for it is an increasing number of pilgrims who visit the Holy Mountain throughout the year, and especially during summer.
Visits to the Holy Mountain are limited and the Chilandar Monastery is obliged to follow the appropriate procedure, and it is very important that the century-long order and a special way of life, adapted to the monastic way of life is preserved. Accordingly, it is expected that all pilgrims will follow the prescribed code of conduct, which is on the back of the license form for entering the Holy Mountain, as well as the instructions which will be received when arriving to the monastery.
It is important that you know that the visit of the Holy Mountain and the Chilandar Monastery is not a tourist visit and that you can not expect all the benefits offered by the tourist arrangements. The responsibility for the complete organization of your journey is up to you, so if it happens that, for example, due to storm, the boat does not sail from Ierissos and Ouranoupolis to the Holy Mountain, you have to wait for the next or another day when the boats will sail again. The Chilandar Monastery takes responsibility only for organizing the transportation from the Arsan port and the port of Jovantsa (on the Holy Mountain itself) to the Chilandar Monastery and vice versa.
Although it is well known, it should also be mentioned that, according to the ancient tradition of the Holy Mountain, Avaton is in efect ("do not step in"), which means that the access is not allowed to the women, but also to anyone else who is not announced, and those who are not Orthodox require a special permit for a visit.
Entering the Holy Mountain is possible only by the boat from the ports located in Ierissos and Ouranoupolis. Previously, there was a possibility of land arrival in case that ships do not sail, but this option was recently abolished. The option of daily visit to the Holy Mountain without overnights was also abolished.
In order to come to the Holy Mountain, first you must ask for a blessing for visiting and staying in the monastery, receive it and then on the day of your arrival you will take the residence permit on the Holy Mountain, the so-called Diamonitirion, and this is all about the regulations.
Below we will explain it more detailed.
1.When you decide which date you want to visit the Holy Mountain, it is necessary to ask for a blessing for a visit to the monastery and reservation of accommodation. This is the first step.
To get a permit and blessing, as well as reservation of accommodation, send the request to the monastery at e-mail email@example.com
This e-mail is used exclusively for communication with pilgrims who wish to visit the monastery. In your mail, it is important to specify:
First and last name
Passport number (it is not necessary to scan or take a picture of the passport)
Profession (preferably, because there are certain discounts for Diamonitorion for students, priests and monks)
Date of arrival to Chilandar and if you have received a blessing for visiting another monastery on Holy Mountain before the Chilandar monastery, it is obligatory to indicate the dates of entering the Holy Mountain
Phone number that will be available upon arrival in Ierissos or Ouranoupolis. A number is necessary so you can be informed in case the ships do not sail.
Announcement of the monastery visit is necessary due to limited accommodation capacities. Camping outside the monastery is not allowed. If you individually visit the monastery, and not within the group, you will be granted one night (two overnight stays in exceptional cases), and groups are granted only one night. For visits of larger groups it is necessary to call in the second half of December for the next year, so a plan and schedule, as well as booking accommodation can be arranged on time. For smaller groups and individual visits, the announcement must be made at least two months earlier.
If you plan to visit the monastery during the summer period, you should send an announcement few months in advance, even six months. If the period you are looking for is filled in, in a response from a monastery, you will be offered the next one that is free.
The second thing you need to do as soon as you get a blessing for accommodation is to book a boat ticket.
From the port of Ierissos and Ouranoupolis, you can reach the Holy Mountain by boat, with the recommendation of the Chilandar monastery to use the route from Ierissos during the summer season. Passengers are carried by a fast boat - a speedboat, with about 120 seats. The price of the ticket is around 10 € and if you have booked it in advance you are buying it upon arrival, on the boat itself. The best would be to book a ticket immediately after you get permission from the monastery.
The first relation is Ierissos - Arsan, port of Chilandar, with a departure at 8:35 in the morning. To make a reservation you need to fill in the reservation request. On the official website of the Chilandar Monastery, which we have mentioned at the beginning of the text, you can find the application form and the e-mail address on which the request is necessary to be sent.
Another relation is Ouranoupolis - Jovantsa, with a departure at 9:45. You can find the request on the same page.
If the ship does not sail in the morning because of a storm, the reservation of the ticket is valid for a ship sailing from Ouranoupolis. Whether a ship from Ierissos sails or not, it is not possible to find out before the departure.
If your return from the Holy Mountain falls on a Sunday or on any holiday, it is best to book the return tickets. The return from the monastery is from the same port, but the boat from Arsan port does not always go at the same time, so it is necessary to ask for it in advance (on info desk at the entrance to the monastery). Booking of return tickets is done in the same way as for departure and for details and links we recommend you to visit the official page of the monastery Chilandar.
It is highly recommended to book the return ticket for the boat in advance, in order not to have any complications and inconveniences large crowds that can be frequent.
The third step to visit Chilandar is to provide a permit to enter the Holy Mountain, the so-called Diamonitirion.
This permit is issued by the executive authority of the Holy Mountain through its pilgrim's office. The executive authority is consisted of community of all monasteries. After you make a reservation of accommodation in the Chilandar Monastery and receive a blessing for your visit, the monastery announces your visit to the mentioned office for the agreed date. In the office, on the day of arival to the Holy Mountain, you can take a diamonitirion with monetary compensation (25€ for adults, 10€ for students up to 26 years old, priests and monks). The pilgrim's office is located at the very entrance to Ouranoupolis, on the right side, below the gas station, along with a large public parking lot where you can park your vehicle during your stay on Holy Mountain, but it has to be paid. If you are traveling from Ierissos, diamonitirions are brought by an office worker before the departure, and in front of the ship, right on the spot they are paid and taken.
That's all about the necessary procedures before the trip. You only have to arrange a transport to the port of Ierissos or Ouranoupolis. It is best, of course, to come by car if you are travelling with, at least, one more person.
In case you are not coming by car, you can take a plane or a bus to Thessaloniki, then from Thessaloniki you can get to Ierissos or Ouranopolis by bus.
The first bus to Ouranoupolis from Thessaloniki (map of Thessaloniki - Ouranoupolis costs 11 euros) is at 6 in the morning.
If possible, it is best that you arrive to Ouranoupolis or Ierissos the day before departure to the Holy Mountain and spend a night in some hotel, so you can arrive to the Holy Mountain fresh and rest.
From Ouranopolis to the port of Chilandar, Jovantsa, the ticket costs 6.5€, and a free monastery bus runs from the port to the monastery. As soon as you arrive at the monastery you will get some refreshments, you will be registered in the guest book and after receiving all the necessary information, you will be accommodated in the room. Accommodation and food are free.
Visitors can take part in all religious services and communion, worship the relics of the saints, walk to the Tower of King Milutin, to the Old Monastery of St. Basil...
If you wish, you can also visit some other monastery or skete on the Holy Mountain, but it is mandatory to request and receive a blessing for the visit beforehand. It is not allowed to come without a blessing.
We mentioned that the executive authorities of the Holy Mountain completely prohibit the crossing of the land border. The Holy Mountain is entered and left exclusively by boat. On days when boats do not sail due to bad weather, it is not possible to enter or leave the Holy Mountain. Guests who found themselves in the monastery, remain there until the boats begin to sail again, and guests who could not enter the Holy Mountain should wait until the boat's line is re-established.