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The World’s 10 Most Magnificent Monasteries

posted in: World  |  posted by: Jennifer Gregory on June 5, 2008  |  42 Comments

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

Toger?s Nest Monastery

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

Gregoriou Monastery

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

Yumbu Lagang Monastery

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

Madonna del Sasso Monastery

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

Inle Lake Monastery

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

Gradac monastery

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

Meteora monastery

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

Montserrat Monastery

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

Popa Taungkalat Shrine

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.

St. Michael?s Golden-Domed Monastery

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Continue reading about the worlds Most Magnificent Monastries Part 2.


Responses to this Article


42 Responses to “The World’s 10 Most Magnificent Monasteries”

  1. Hotels in Pistoia says on

    congratulations, great post
    it’s not so usual to see photos together with text explaining where monasteries are an some of their story

    I’ve visited the Montserrat monastery and it’s a magnificient construction, really worth visiting

  2. Jordan says on

    Admit it.

    This post was just a excuse to use the word ‘autochthonous’, wasn’t it?

  3. scary film reviewer says on

    those are incredible, too bad I may never really see them in person.

  4. Luxury Hotel Thailand says on

    Amazing how they built. Good blog !

  5. Jon says on

    Great photos. Especially the one in Burma.

  6. pericles says on

    An unforgettable one is at Amorgos island in Greece

  7. Travel Planner says on

    I wonder why these great structures are placed at so high altitude. They are really beautiful. This shows how much anarchy prevailed in the past. Nice post!

  8. Pokin says on

    Wow what beautiful monasteries. And how precariously perched. I like admiring the pictures but I sure am glad I didn’t have to be the ones building at the edge of slopes for the monasteries in Bhutan, Burma or Tibet.

  9. Eric says on

    Wow – well done! I’d never seen or heard of Burma’s Popa Taungkalat Shrine. It looks absolutely incredible.

  10. muhsin kaya says on

    did u see Sumela? it’s the best..

  11. traveleden says on

    Absolutely stunning!

    Especially the Yumbulagang Monastery,

  12. Debo Hobo says on

    Some of those places are situated in very precariuos locations

  13. Bunny got Blog says on

    Job well done. Both the article and photography are extremely creative.

  14. Mircea says on

    Beautiful! I wonder how long it took them to make the meteora monastery :)

  15. Ryan says on

    Good list, but how did you forget Escorial?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Escorial

  16. Jennifer Gregory says on

    Hi Ryan,

    You can find Escorial on my part 2:

    http://blog.ratestogo.com/monasteries-2/

  17. Pilar Luna Martin says on

    The most important monastery in Spain is Suso in La Rioja where the Spanish Language was born.

    You can find it in http://www.lariojaturismo.com

  18. Ken Bobrosky says on

    Some great photos and choices. The Sumela Monestery in northeastern Turkey can not be left out. It is attached to the face of a sheer cliff and is magnificent!

  19. Ben says on

    How do you not include a single monastery from South America. Try looking one up in Arequipa, Peru.

  20. Mik says on

    Awesome structures, maybe some are so high to be “closer to God.”

  21. Wrestling fan says on

    Very cool blog- The first one is the best!

  22. joedoe says on

    Yeah, Sumela monastery shouldn’t left out it’s also carved in rocks. Also monasteries in G?reme are great too.

  23. Mahbub says on

    Really Cool post. I like Meteora Monastery, Greece very much.

  24. tajo says on

    Spectacular! And a great post too. I have to ask where you got these photos, they are amazingly well shot. My personal favourite in this list would be the Popa Taungkalat Shrine, Burma, followed by the Montserrat Convent in Spain.

  25. Planet-traveling says on

    wish to visite them all. I visited Meteora Monastery in greece and great is little word for it.
    thanks

  26. tom says on

    Lovely!

    I can not wait to visit them!, especially Popa Taungkalat Shrine in Burma must by pretty awesome!

  27. Tom@British Wrestling Photos says on

    A very nice set of photos. I really like Number 3, the colour scheme there is fantastic.

  28. Seminyak Luxury Villas says on

    Nice and beautiful place… i love it. hope sometimes i can go there.

  29. coach sydney says on

    awesome place! its truly amazing how these could have been built in such precarious locations. Love it!

  30. sanja andjelic says on

    Gradac is the best. You must come and see it.WONDERFUL!!!

  31. Jack says on

    Gradac monastery is wonderful. It is the best from Serbia

  32. cheap van insurance says on

    I have a few sites I go to, but the quality is always the best here!

  33. Turkey Traveller says on

    Love the first one in Bhutan, and the two in Greece look pretty impressive.

  34. denis says on

    Monastary Gradac is the most beautiful in Serbia.Everybody must to visit this monastary.Every year,the first sunday in May, touristic board organizes ceremony in the name of the King UroŇ° I and Queen Jelena, which take 4 days.

  35. hawek mane says on

    Gr8 pics. Especially Burma or the most beautiful in Serbia….it ws really nice.

  36. Best Travel Blogs says on

    What a beautiful architecture in those Monasteries. There is so much insights about them, just by the simple look!

  37. Cheap Hotels in Port Douglas says on

    Truly a magnificent monastery. I’m just curious, why is it that monastery is built on top of a mountain? Aren’t they afraid of landslide?

  38. Max says on
  39. JMRAZ says on

    This architecture is impeccable! It’s crazy to think how places like this could be built considering some of the placements. Looks like some travel is in my future to visit some!



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