When thinking about monasteries, most of us are reminded of the Buddha, mountains, tranquility, colourful temples with a heavy influence of red and yellow, the golden dragon murals and a long trek to the monastery gates. Most of us have been to monasteries at some point in time, making us wonder whether exploring monasteries should be ticked off our list by now. Get ready to pack your bags, and head out to some adventure, as we bring to you some of the most unique, picturesque and breathtaking monasteries across the world. This read will completely change your perception of these temples of great art and architecture and compel you to explore the hidden.
12. Monastery of Saint Anthony:
As the name suggests, it is a Coptic Orthodox church, that lies in the middle of the eastern Egyptian desert. Unlike many other monasteries, it’s exterior is completely made up of sand-like material. This monastery standing amidst the desert like an oasis. It lies some 300 Kms from the main Cairo city, Egypt, and is believed to be among some of the oldest monasteries in the world. It is a place of significance for Coptic Christians and is dedicated to Saint Anthony, the first Christian monk. The monastery is a self-sufficient village, with mills, gardens, a bakery, five different churches and several other religious structures built around 300 CE.
Picture Credits: The Orthodox Church
11. Key Monastery:
Against the backdrop of scenic Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh, the Key Monastery is a bunch of small buildings, arranged asymmetrically on top of one another. It serves a dual purpose; as a center for learning of Tibetan Buddhism and a tourist spot with a high footfall. It is the biggest monastery in the entire Lahaul district and is a must visit for all those who happen to visit the Spiti Valley.
Picture Credits: Quora.com
10. Erdene Zuu Khiid Monastery:
Located in the deserted terrains of Mongolia, this monastery came into existence in the late 16th century. It was put out of business by the succeeding regimes, and did not reopen until 1990. The monastery complex has three different temples dedicated to the three phases of Buddha’s life; Childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The artifacts inside the temple complex are in excellent condition, even after years of neglect.
Picture Credits: Wikipedia
9. Paro Taktsang Monastery:
Also known as the Tiger’s Nest, this place is the highest order monastery of Bhutan. A representative of Tibetan Buddhism, this monastery is located on the top of a mountain which can be accessed by climbing some thousand stairs. They have alternate options in case you don’t want to take the long walk. There are cafes and benches along the stairs, where you can catch up with your breathe during the enduring trek. If you happen to visit around the month of March or April, you could even get a chance to take part in Tsechu celebrations held in the honour of the titular deity of Bhutan.
Picture Credits: Wikipedia
8. Ganden Monastery:
Considered as the turf of Buddhism, Tibet hosts this beautiful monastery in the lofty mountains of the Himalayan range. The monastery is situated in the suburbs of Lhasa and doubles as a center for Buddhist learning and place of worship. This monastery still stands aesthetic, even after witnessing mighty wars between China and Tibet in the past. It has several ruins that speak of the countless horrors that the two countries had been through during the ordeal. The tomb of a popular 15th-century Buddhist monk, Je Tsongkhapa, also lies inside the temple complex.
Picture Credits: SonyaandTravis.com
7. Tawang Monastery:
This monastery is the largest monastery in it’s home country, i.e India, and the second largest in the entire world after the Potala Palace monastery in Tibet. It is situated in the eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh in India. You can visit during the month of January to enjoy the colourful festival of Torgya, that takes place inside the temple complex every year. This place is a major tourist spot along with being of religious significance. It has an excellent railway and air connectivity in case one is planning to explore the city of Tawang. One can experience the religious serenity of Murals and paintings inside the monastery complex while exploring it’s ambit.
Picture Credits: Fine art America
6. Gelati Monastery:
A UNESCO designated World Heritage Site in Georgia, it is a monastic church built during the reign of Byzantine empire. It is located in the Imereti province and known for it’s alluring architecture and informative wall art about the Orthodox Christianity. It was built on the top of a grassy hill in the middle of the Kutaisi town of Georgia. This is a perfect place to know more about the art and architecture of Byzantine empire and the origins of Orthodox Christianity.
Picture Credits: Georgian Holidays
5. Dragomirna Monastery:
Located in the forested hills with oaks and fir, this Orthodox Church was built around a graveyard. It was designated as the beholder of Descent Of The Holy Spirits by the locals. It’s location within the forest makes it hauntingly beautiful, and can serve as a peaceful getaway for all those who visit Moldavia. The Orthodox monastery is built of raw and unpolished stones, taking the tourist back to the medieval era during which it was built. The paintings and murals speak of the tales of descent of the holy spirits of Enoch, Elijah, and John the Theologian, to whom this monastery is dedicated.
Picture Credits: Wikipedia
4. Amaravati Buddhist Monastery:
It is a Theravada Buddhist monastery, built during the late 1980s, in South East England. It has roots in the Thai forest tradition. The monastery looks stunning during snowfall period and is a support system to the resident monastic community, who practice and preach Buddhism across England.
Picture Credits: Still mind
3. Tatev Monastery:
It is an Armenian Apostolic basilica Church situated near the Tatev village in Armenia’s Syunik province. The monastery has a history of playing a university to the Local Armenian population during the medieval times. Wings of Tatev, a cable trolley originating from the Tatev town, holds Guinness Book of World Record for the longest non-stop double track cable car. The monastery is a huge complex with churches, libraries, mausoleum, and several supplementary buildings, and thus a perfect place to bask in the ambiance of a quiet Armenian town.
Picture Credits: Dookinternational
2. Monastery of Holy Trinity:
It is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in Greece which forms a part of one of the 24 monasteries originally built at Meteora, meaning suspended in air. This monastery is located on the top of a 400 m high cliff which is believed to have been created by an earthquake some 60 million years ago. It has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Site titled Meteora. The location imparts to it, the scenic beauty amidst the dense Trikala aesthetic forest.
Picture Credits: Pinterest.co.uk
1. Shechen Monastery:
This monastery was originally built in Tibet but destroyed during a Communist Chinese government’s revolution. Thereafter, it was rebuilt in 1985 in Nepal to serve as the seat of the Shechen tradition in exile. Situated in the deserted stretches of the green mountains along a river bank, this monastery is the personification of peace and silence, with the mountains around giving the necessary heavenly touch to the entire experience.
Picture Credits: Earthquakepredic