The monastery of Simonos Petra is one of the most impressive monasteries of Agion Oros since it is built on a rock of granite 300 meters above the sea level. While it is located on the southwest end of Athos peninsula.
The monastery was founded in 1363 by Osios Simon, who was a hermit in a cave near the area the monastery was built. According to the myth, the spot was shown to Osios Simon by Virgin Mary through a vision where she was asking him to build the "New Bethlehem".
The monastery is a seven-story building, dominating the landscape and the Katholikon, the main church, is dedicated to the Birth of Jesus. It was partially burnt three times during its long history, in the 14th century, in the 17th century and in the 19th century (1891). The last fire was the most damaging and the Tsars of Russia gave donations in order to help the restoration of the monastery.
The monastery has 12 smaller churches under its protection, from which four of them are inside the walls of the monastery. One of them is the church of St Mary Magdalene, where the remnant of the imperishable left hand of the Saint is housed. The visitors can visit the hall where all relics are kept, as well as the library of the monastery where the main rare hand scripts are kept and preserved.
In the monastery, there are 90 monks living permanently, while the number of guests and the rooms for accommodating guests are limited. So each guest who wishes to be hosted here has to call and arrange accommodation in advance.