The majority of travelers always have a specific type of attraction that they like to visit. Some of them love beaches, others natural wonders like rock formation and geysers. Monasteries are just some of the incredible travel attractions that make up a traveling subgroup and attract millions of people annually .
Monasteries were usually built in remote areas, as they were considered to be sacred and visitors had to undergo difficulties to reach them. Although the technology has now advanced greatly, there are still remote monasteries that invite travelers craving seclusion.
Meteora (means “suspended in the air”), located in Thessaly, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of series of monasteries nestled on tall rocks.
The area was first populated by monks in the 11th centuries. These monks later started to build monasteries on rocks. The current buildings date back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Unfortunately, only 6 of 24 monasteries have been preserved.
All monasteries are generally accessible, but some of them demand more physical preparation than the others. Monks used to reach the monastery or descend to the valley on a mere rope. Today, you’ll find rope stairs, at least.
Meteora is great for hiking and camping. Set up the tent on one of the sandstone cones. This is where you can almost touch the stars at night and the clouds in the morning. Remember that sleeveless shirt and shorts are prohibited inside the monasteries, so dress accordingly.
The Monastery of Ostrog, Montenegro
Although it’s pretty difficult to reach Ostrog, this monastery is the top tourist attraction in Montenegro. It represents the Serb Orthodox Church and was built in the 17th century out of a living rock. It’s dedicated to Saint Basil, whose tomb is located in the cave church.
The place is popular not only with foreign visitors, but also locals, who believe that a prayer said in Ostrog can cure serious illnesses. The monastery consist of 2 churches, the upper and lower ones. Those having physical difficulties climbing the upper monastery, you can visit the lower one.
The upper monastery, however, offers magnificent views to the neighboring mountains and valleys.
Xuan Kong Si, China
If you’re simply passing by, you might not even notice the stone monastery of Xuan Kong Si. The monastery is located in Shanxi region and is often called “the Hanging Temple.” The name describes its appearance completely. The buildings look like a magnet souvenir sticker on the Mount Hengshan.
Wooden beams plunge into the rock at the base and the roof of the mountain, making it stand firmly. The seclusion of the location was made to eliminate the noise and help Taoist monks concentrate on meditation and other religious practices. Today, however, the monastery is almost always full of tourists.
Whatever the reason for your visit is, there are stunning view you shouldn’t miss even if the crowd of tourists on a cliff scares you. The monastery looks like the beams, constructed around 1400 years ago, are strong enough to not only hold the monastery, but the flow of visitors as well. Let’s hope this structure remains unchanged for centuries to come!