Monasteries are not just religious sites, they are also extremely beautiful architectural masterpieces. While all monasteries are beautiful and mysterious in their own way, there are some that stand out from the rest.
1. Tiger?s Nest Monastery, Bhutan
Taktshang, which is the most famous of the monasteries in all of Bhutan, is located on a 3,120 meter cliff and is more than 700 meters above the Paro valley. The name of this beautiful monastery was derived from the story of Padmasambhava, who was said to have flown to the monastery on the back of a tiger. There are a total of seven temples in the monastery, all of which can be visited, though visitors must either climb to the monastery by foot or ride a mule in order to get there.
2. The Monastery of Gregoriou, Greece
Founded in the 14th century, the Gregorio Monastery is located on the southwest side of Mount Atos. The Gregorio Monastery, which is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, is considered one of the best organized of the coenobitic monasteries. As of 1990, 70 monks inhabited the monastery, though monks have inhabited it for hundreds of years. In 1779, monks Gabriel and Gregory decorated the walls of the monastery. It also has numerous chapels and its treasury is filled with relics from every era. In addition, the bones of the Patriarch of Constantinople, St. Niphon, can be found on display in the monastery.
3. Yumbulagang Monastery, Tibet
The Yumbulagang Monastery is one of the first buildings to be constructed in Tibet and is the first palace to be built in the country. Although this 2,000 year old building was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, it was successfully rebuilt in the 1980s. Today, the history of Tibet can be seen on the painted murals found on the walls.
4. Madonna del Sasso Monastery, Switzerland
The Madonna del Sasso Monastery is located high above Locarno, which is on a beautiful bay in the lake. In addition to its pristine location, the area also receives more sunshine hours than anywhere else in the country. Built to honor the Virgin Mary, the monastery was originally constructed in 1480. Today, it?s museum houses a large collection of art.
5. Ngaphechaung Monastery, Burma
The wooden Ngaphechaung Monastery is built on stilts and is located in Inle Lake. Built in the 1850s, the monastery is now home to numerous Buddhas as well as cats that are trained to jump through hoops. Getting to the monastery requires taking a 25 minute boat ride.
6. Gradac Monastery, Serbia
The Gradac Monastery, which was built during the 13 century, is found 20 km north of Raska. The church has some Gothic elements, though it is mostly designed in the autochthonous Raska school style.
7. Meteora Monastery, Greece
The Meteora Monastery, received its name because it is built on pillars made from natural sandstone rock. In fact, the word Meteora means ?suspended in the air,? or ?suspended rocks? or ?in the heavens above? in Greek. This particular monastery is the largest in Greece as well as one of its most important monasteries. It houses six monasteries and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
8. Montserrat Monastery, Spain
The Montserrat Monestary, which is more formally known as the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monestary, is found nestled within the Montserrat mountain located in Catalonia. The famous Virgin of Montserrat statue is located in the rear of the chapel, which also contains an altar made of gold.
9. Popa Taungkalat Shrine, Burma
The Popa Taungkalat Shrine is home to 37 Mahagiri Nats, or spirits. Statues depicting the Nats are at the base of the Shrine. As you ascend the 777 steps to the summit, you will be asked to remove your socks and shoes. You will also be greeted by hungry monkeys along the way, so bring something to feed them or keep your belongings close to you, so they don’t run off with your lunch!
10. St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, Ukraine
This brilliant blue monastery is located on the Dneiper River in Kiev, Ukraine. It was first built in the Middle Ages, but was destroyed by the Soviets in 1934. It was rebuilt in 1999 after Ukraine regained its independence.
Continue reading about the worlds Most Magnificent Monastries Part 2.