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Panagia Hozoviotissa in Amorgos
There are sights and there are sights, there are monasteries and there are monasteries. And then there is the monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa on Amorgos, one of Greece's most remarkable sights, so extraordinary and sensational that the monastery itself may be worth the trip to Amorgos.
If you only are planning to see just one Greek monastery in your life, it is enough with Panagia Hozoviotissa (sometimes spelled Chosoviotissa). Very few travel from Amorgos without having done a visit at the monastery.
In 1088 a ship sank near Agia Anna, an icon of Virgin Mary was on the ship. The icon was miraculously saved and in honour of this miracle it was determined that a monastery would be built on the cliff side above the finding place. One could hardly have chosen a more difficult place, and it is a complete mystery how they managed to accomplish the construction. Why did they not lie and said that the icon was found in Katapola? Oh no, here we will build a monastery on a steep cliff side 300 metres above sea level.
Panagia Hozoviotissa as seen from the other direction. Agia Anna beach to the left.
From a distance Panagia Hozoviotissa appears as a giant sugar cube that has somehow riveted itself on the cliff side. I have visited the monastery several times, and every time I am puzzled about the architects and the construction workers of that time, every time I walk away with the mind filled with question marks. How did they do?
Inside the monastery are a number of small cells where the monks lived, only a few monks live here nowadays. Not only that the monastery is illogically located, it is also very narrow, in some places no more than four meters between the outside walls. A tour, as you do on your own, goes pretty fast and above all you will be impressed by the construction, the view of the sea, the icon of course, and that the monks can live in a place that is so hot.
When you reach the top floor your face and back will stream with sweat. Then, when you need it the most, the monks usually offer you a glass of water and a glass of monastery liqueur. However I leave out the floury sweets they also offers, it sits like a cork in the throat.
Panagia Hozoviotissa seen from Agia Anna.
The monastery is located right beneath Chora on the way to Agia Anna. The easiest way to get there is by private vehicle, then you avoid the crowding on the bus and you can be in charge of the time. The buses to Chora (from Katapola and Aegiali) are usually coordinated with the buses to the monastery.
Stone steps leads up to the monastery from the turning area, it takes about 15-20 sweaty minutes to walk up. Visit the monastery in the morning if you can, the monastery lies in the shade in the evening and is therefore not as spectacular.
Panagia Hozoviotissa seen from the parking lot.
As in all Greek monasteries you must dress properly: arms and legs must be covered for both women and men. Women should wear a sarong, long skirt or dress. Earlier, there were clothes to borrow at the entrance, but it is not possible anymore, so bring your own clothes. Open every day from 8:00 to 13:00 and 17:00 to 19:00.
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