Hermitages of Karoulia – Agion Oros, Greece - Atlas Obscura

Hermitages of Karoulia

The hermits of Karoulia protect their asocial lifestyles by living on the vertical face of a treacherous precipice. 


Karoulia, the harshest part of Mount Athos on its southwestern tip, is home to no more than 10 hermits living in small huts and caves on the vertical faces of huge rocks rising from a rough sea.

Access to the “horrible” Karoulia, as it is frequently called, is very difficult, and climbing skills are required in many cases. The hermits live on very little food and drink rainwater collected in rock cavities. Some of them leave baskets hanging from their hermitages to the sea, where passing monks, pilgrims, and fishermen leave simple food, usually dried bread and olives. The pulleys they use to raise the baskets have given the area its name (karoulia is the Greek word for pulleys).

The hermits spend most of the day and night praying, have very little sleep, and support themselves by painting holy icons or making simple handicrafts which they exchange for supplies.

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