After 1,000 years, women can see treasures of Mount Athos

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For the first time in almost 1,000 years, many of the legendary Byzantine treasures of Mount Athos in Greece are on view to women.

Almost 200 works of art from the male-only Orthodox enclave in northern Greece are on show at the Petit Palais in Paris until July. Most of the works have never previously left the peninsula, from which women – and even most female animals – have been banned since 1045.

The 20 monasteries of Mount Athos house one of the largest collections of Christian art in the world. Direct access to these treasures is notoriously difficult to obtain for men, and impossible for women.

But Paris has been granted the privilege of hosting this "world premiere", largely as a result of France's presidency of the EU last year. The Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dora Bakoyannis, described the exhibition as a "cultural event of the first order".

"The treasures exhibited here are a part of European culture," Ms Bakoyannis said. "A large number of these relics are going 'beyond the walls' of Mount Athos for public viewing for the first time by men and women."..

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