There are 300 steps that separate the visitor from the entrance to the monastery. Another 900 years separate him from the monastery’s establishment. That which unites everyone no matter who visits the monastery is the awe and the admiration for this important work, a memorial hymn for the human faith and will. In a rough landscape of unbelievable beauty and wildness, loyal people overcame their weaknesses and managed what today is known as a small miracle.
Built upon steep rock cliffs it hangs into an abyss as if touched by the hand of God.
The monastery was built in 1088 and was renovated by the Byzantine emperor Alexio Komnino. The reason for the erection of the monastery was the finding of an icon of the Virgin Mary, which arrived from Chosovo or Chosova in Palestine. Chosivas or Koziva’s location is found in the Holy lands near Jericho. The persecutions of the Christians in the 9th Century brought as by miracle the icon to Amorgos, a location that is said to have been chosen by the Virgin Mary herself.
The renovation and whitewash of the walls all these years have covered important information about the history of the Monastery. During the Venetian rule (1296-1537) many changes and expansions were made leaving behind hints of western influence. Not even during Turkish rule (1537-1824) was the monastery’s prosperity interrupted. Its fortune allowed the bribery of its religious freedom from the Turkish Pashas. The monastery had shares of Crete, Lero, Naxos, Paros, and Astipalaia as well as the desert islands Kero, Nikouria and Grampoussa.
Its definition plain.
Austure lanky lines are in tune with the surrounding area.
Even the recent buildings don’t alter the characteristic structure. It is 40m in length though its width is 5m. Narrow rocky steps lead to the 8 floors and unite parts of the monastery. Its arches are built with flint brought from Milos. The use of wood suggests the existence of forest in the area (particularly forests with certain types of cypress trees).
The monastery is composed of the monks’ cells, the treasury, the kitchen, its ovens, its storage rooms, rooms for the bread baking, cellars for wines, rooms for the earthenware jars with oil as well as the lime pits and the wells.
The furnaces and the cook houses do not function anymore, although the treasury opens to the faithful on the 21st November during the Presentation of the Virgin Mary.
In 1977 three small cells were combined and visitors can now admire some of the Monastery’s heirlooms while at the same time enjoying the citrus and marshmallow treats.
All it took were some scenic plans from Luc Besson, specifically a panoramic view of the Monastery for viewers to be fascinated. The movie and the plot were lost in memories of film festivals, the heroes faded and were forgotten, but people were met with one of the rarest, most moving and powerful places in the world.
When you come across a peaceful sea and get a birds eye view from the Monastery, then the expression “the big blue” is not just a cliche, it is something more than that. It is you.
Easter in Amorgos
For those who like to hike then they can follow the procession of the Virgin Mary’s icon from the Monastery to the villages of Aigialis and back.
It is a 6-hour walk through the old lanes of the island, a hymn to nature and faith.