Medieval Greek monasteries get broadband link-up

ATHENS, Aug 20 (Reuters Life!) - Monks at six medieval monasteries have joined the 21st century with the installation of broadband Internet access on the remote Mount Athos peninsula.

The all-male Greek Orthodox monasteries were hooked up to a pilot wireless data transmission network, Greece’s main telephone company telecommunications firm OTE said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Through the use of innovative technology, we can provide modern internet services for this special religious and cultural centre,” OTE said. “The network provides for both broadband and IP telephony services.”

The monasteries, have followed an ascetic way of life since Byzantine times, with women -- and even female livestock -- banned and many monks living as hermits in caves.

The peninsula, a UNESCO world heritage site, is a favourite destination of Britain’s Prince Charles and has virtually no roads, transport or communications infrastructure.

Given to the monks by Byzantine imperial decree in the 9th century, Mount Athos, about 270 km (170 miles) north of Athens on the Halkidiki peninsula, is a self-governing region within Greece. (Reporting by George Hatzidakis; editing by Andrew Dobbie)