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Why are women banned from Mount Athos?

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The Mount - actually a sq km sq mile peninsula - may be the largest area in the world from which women, and female animals, are banned. Andy Walker asks why the ban exists. If you want to visit Mount Athos the first step is to submit a copy of your passport to the Mount Athos Pilgrims' Bureau. Each day, Orthodox and 10 non-Orthodox male pilgrims are admitted for a three-night stay in one of the peninsula's 20 monasteries. Women will not be granted a permit and must stay behind as their male friends board the ferry at one of the two closest ports. Mount Athos has barred women for more than 1, years - they are not allowed within m of the coast. According to Dr Graham Speake, author of Mount Athos: Renewal in Paradise, a 10th Century charter states that female animals are excluded but says nothing about women because everyone knew that women were not allowed in men's monasteries.

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