Holy Mountain (Mount Athos) is an autonomous polity within the Greek Republic. It is on the pensinsula of Athos in Chalkidiki, Macedonia. It is home to 20 monasteries, their dependencies and various stores and services. There are 20 monasteries the number of which can not increase nor decrease. They are large, elaborate buildings which are surrounded by a strong wall. The wall’s main characteristic is the Tower with its ramparts and ports that helped the coastal monasteries fight off pirates and conquerors.
There are two kinds of monasteries. A) The Basilicas which were given their name either because their erection took place under the reign and contribution of Byzantine Emperors, or because they were validated by them with a chrysobull, B) the Patriarchical and Stauropegic monasteries that were subordinated to the patriarch of Istanbul. Their name comes from the Byzantine tradition of summoning the Patriarch to place a cross (stavros) at the foundation of these monasteries.