Sunday, May 29, 2016
Vladimir Putin visits Mount Athos,
all-male Orthodox enclave
Mr Putin (centre) met the Greek President Prokopis Pavlopouos (in striped tie) during his trip to Mount Athos
Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the monasteries at Mount Athos, in northern Greece, one of Orthodox Christianity's holiest sites.
Mr Putin joined celebrations at the monastery of St Panteleimon to mark 1,000 years of Russian monks at Mount Athos.
He was accompanied by Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Mount Athos is an enclave of 20 monasteries. Women have been banned for over 1,000 years.
Greece and Russia are both largely Orthodox Christian countries and have close religious ties.
Why are women banned from Mount Athos?
Mount Athos and other sacred sites where women are banned
No women or female domestic animals are allowed on Mount Athos
The Russian leader travelled to the peninsula by boat, as there is no road access, and held talks with the Greek president.
As he was welcomed at the enclave's administrative centre, Karyes, Mr Putin said he was convinced that the Russian connection to Greece as well as to the holy Mount Athos "could only get stronger".
After attending a service in Karyes the Russian president travelled on to the monastery of St Panteleimon, unaccompanied by the media.
It was Mr Putin's second visit to the monastery;
he travelled there in 2005
as the first Russian leader to visit the site.
Despite his background as a KGB officer in Communist times, when the Soviet state frowned on religion, he has embraced his Orthodox faith and is believed to have a good relationship with Patriarch Kirill.
The St Panteleimon Monastery has benefited from Russian investment
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