National Geographic : 2009 Dec
Sounding a call to prayer with the rap of a mallet on a wooden board, a monk leads an Easter procession of fellow monks and lay visitors. Guarded by 6,670-foot-high Mount Athos (below, in background) and laced by rustic paths still traveled on foot and by mule (bottom le ), the enclave s low-tech serenity attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims yearly---men only. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the peninsula is o -limits to all women and the temptations they might represent. Father Mardarios (top le ), a former nightclub bouncer, applies his brawn to clearing ground for a garden. "Too many rocks," he grunts, "like my sins."