Top 10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries in the World

Christian Monasticism is a practice of individuals who live aesthetic life withdrawing him from the society. The idea was modelled upon Old Testament and not necessarily applicable to the common people. These individuals are known as monastic. They were seldom encountering other people, abstain from sexuality. Monasteries are built for the monastics. They are the centre of religious education for the Christians all over the world. The main goal is the salvation of mankind. Here is our list of 10 most famous Christian Monasteries in the world.

10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries:

10. Alcobaca Monastery

Top 10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries in the World, Alcobaca Monastery
Alcobaca Monastery | image credit – Wikimedia/Portuguese_eyes

The Alcobaça Monastery is located in the town of Alcobaca in central Portugal. It is a Roman Catholic Monastery founded by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, in 1153. It had maintained a close association with the Kings of Portugal throughout the history. The Monastery along with the church is proclaimed one of the most famous Gothic Cathedrals of Medieval Europe, the first in Portugal and listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is one of the first Christian foundation in Portugal. This building is very well known for its artistic and historical importance, proudly considered as one of the oldest monastery in europe.

9. Sümela Monastery

Top 10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries in the World, Sümela Monastery
Sümela Monastery | image credit – Wikimedia/Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

The Sümela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery in Maçka, Trabzon Province in the Black Searegion of Turkey. It was founded in AD 386 during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I by two Athenian Monks and dedicated to Virgin Mary. The Monastery fell into ruin several times and was restored by various emperors during its long history. It got its present form in the 13th century. Now it is a major tourist attraction like the Famous Greek Temples in Turkey. The inner and outer walls are decorated with frescoes. The main subjects of the frescoes are the tale of Christ and Virgin Mary.

8. Ostrog Monastery

Top 10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries in the World, Ostrog Monastery
Ostrog Monastery | image credit – Wikimedia/Diego Delso

The Monastery of Ostrog is one of the amazing christian Monasteries in the world. It is a Serbian Orthodox monastery. Dedicated to Saint Basil of Ostrog, the Monastery is the most important pilgrimage place in Montenegro.  It is founded in the 17th century. After a fire which had destroyed the major part of the complex, it got its present-day look in 1923-1926. It is believed that by praying here, one can be cured from incurable disease and other difficulties of life.

7. Kiev Pechersk Lavra

Top 10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries in the World, Kiev Pechersk Lavra
Kiev Pechersk Lavra | image credit – Wikimedia/Jorge Láscar

Kiev Pechersk Lavrais is a historic Orthodox Christian monastery in Kiev, Ukraine. It is also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves. The Lavra has been a preeminent centre of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Eastern Europe since its foundation as the cave monastery in 1015. It is one of the seven wonders of Ukraine and popular tourist attraction as being one of the famous ancient Roman monuments. It contains numerous architectural monuments; the Great Lavra Belltower, the notable feature of the Kiev skyline, cathedrals, underground cave systems and strong stone fortification walls.

6. Gelati Monastery

Top 10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries in the World, Gelati Monastery
Gelati Monastery | image credit – Wikimedia/Ihor Burliai

The Monastery of Gelati is a monastic complex in western Georgia. It is one of the most famous and oldest Monasteries in the world. It contains the 11th-century Church of the Virgin founded by the King of Georgia David and the 13th-century churches of St George and St Nicholas. The Gelati Monastery was considered one of the main cultural and intellectual centres in Georgia for a long time.

Gelati Academy is its important part which employed some of the most celebrated Georgian scientists, philosophers and theologians. Gelati Monastery was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1994.

5. Mount Athos

Top 10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries in the World, Mount Athos
Mount Athos | image credit – Wikimedia/Gabriel

Mount Athos is a mountain and a peninsula in northern Greece, largest catholic monastery in the world. It is known for its historical monastic tradition. Over 2,000 monks from Greece and many other Eastern Orthodox countries, such as Bulgaria, Russia and Serbia, live an ascetic life in Athos, separated from the rest of the world today. It is an autonomous state under Greek sovereignty.

Entering into the area is strictly monitored and only accessible by boat. Females are totally prohibited to enter males are into Mount Athos and only male monks are allowed to live there. Among twenty monasteries, one is Russian, one is Bulgarian, one is Serbian and the rest are Greek. The foreign monasteries and sketae are supported by their own countries.

4. Rila Monastery

Top 10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries in the World, Rila Monastery
Rila Monastery | image credit – Wikimedia/Droben

The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is better known as the Rila Monastery. It is located in the northwestern Rila Mountains, in the deep valley of the river Rilska. Traditionally thought that the monastery was founded by the hermit Saint Ivan of Rila during the rule of Tsar Peter I. The monk actually lived in a cave without any material possessions not far from the monastery’. The complex was built by his disciples, who came to the mountains to receive their education.

3. Saint Catherine’s Monastery

Top 10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries in the World, Saint Catherine's Monastery
Saint Catherine’s Monastery | image credit – Wikimedia/DokiC

Saint Catherine’s Monastery is one the oldest and famous working Christian Monasteries in the world. It lies on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, at the mouth of a gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai. Being one of the man made wonders of the world, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monastery was built by order of the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I at the site where it is told the Moses saw the burning bush. There is a library in the monastery which preserves the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world only second to the Vatican Library.

2. El Escorial

Top 10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries in the World, El Escorial
El Escorial | image credit – Flickr/Arturo R Montesinos

The world famous Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial shortly El Escorial was the political center of the Spanish empire under King Philip II. It is about 45 kilometers (28 mi) northwest of the capital, Madrid. El Escorial is one of the Spanish royal sites and serves as a royal palace, museum, and school and monastery. Philip appointed the Spanish architect Juan Bautista de Toledo in 1559. UNESCO declared The Royal Seat of San Lorenzo of El Escorial a World Heritage Site on 2 November 1984. More than 500,000 visitors come to El Escorial each year.

1. Meteora

Top 10 Most Famous Christian Monasteries in the World, Meteora
Meteora | image credit – Flickr/Danel Solabarrieta

Metéora is one of the largest and most famous complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece. Metéora means suspended in the air .The six Christian monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars. Athanasios Koinovitis from Mount Athos founded the great Meteoron monastery on Broad Rock in the 14th century.

The place was perfect for the monks, they were safe from political upheaval and had complete control of the entry to the monasteries. It is not easy to enter the monasteries requiring either long ladders lashed together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. This actually required quite a leap of faith – the ropes were replaced only “when the Lord let them break”.

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