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High above the Aegean Sea on the island of Amorgos, the most eastern of the Greek Cycladic Islands, lies the spectacular Byzantine monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa. Visible only from the sea as a patch of bright white, it clings to the cliff side 300 meters above the sea level. The monastery was built in the 11th century in order to protect a 9th century religious icon of the Virgin Mary from marauding pirates. The icon, which is on public display inside the monastery, is believed to have mysteriously arrived on the shore below on an unmanned boat from Palestine.

The building of the monastery lies flat against the sides of the cliff. Its about 40 meters tall and 5 meters wide, and has 8 overlying stories that develop in a larger width utilizing functional wall recesses of rock. There is a labyrinth interior with the church, the cells and the various auxiliary rooms forming a set that with resourcefulness and usability meets the needs of the monastic brotherhood.


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© Amusing Planet, 2014.


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