Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- ``This is where they all come, and I'm the one who lets them in,'' says Father George, the sentinel monk who patrols the coiling dirt road into Moni Vatopedi, one of the 20 monasteries on the isolated Greek peninsula of Mount Athos.
Today, this spit of cliffs and forests inhabited by 2,400 monks in northeastern Greece is a private pilgrimage site for many of the more than 2,250 elite politicians and businessmen assembled this week in the ski village of Davos, Switzerland, for the annual World Economic Forum.
Long before global paladins such as Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates and Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Charles Prince embarked on their annual pilgrimage to Davos, Mount Athos was celebrated as the Western world's most fashionable retreat where leaders came to ponder their souls and the state of the world.
`"The men come from all over the world,'' the 65-year-old Father George explains, sweeping his visitors log toward the rugged terrain that for more than 1,000 years has served as host for the likes of Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I, French President Charles de Gaulle, actor Mel Gibson, Prince Charles, U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Cuban President Fidel Castro, the Aga Khan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Peter Armitage, president and CEO of Capital International Fund Management in Los Angeles.
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