The Monastery Of Hozoviotissa: The Jewel Of The Aegean Sea

29th December 2019

Amorgos may not be the first island that comes to mind when you think of visiting Greece. However, there are plenty of reasons why this member of the Cyclades Islands is well worth a visit – the largest of which is the chance to visit the Monastery of Hozoviotissa. This beautiful island, and its ‘jewel’ of a monastery, can be visited as part of the Northern Cyclades itineraries found amongst our Eastern Mediterranean cruises.

The Story Of The Monastery

Monastery of Hozoviotissa

Perched high on a cliff and built into the surrounding rock, construction of the Monastery of Hozoviotissa was started in the year 812. The location was supposedly chosen after an unmanned boat arrived at Agia Anna beach carrying an icon of Panagia, a name used for the Virgin Mary in this part of the world.

The boat was said to have departed from Hoziva, an area of Palestine today known as Wadi al Qilt, and that is where the monastery gets its name. Craftsmen worked tirelessly to build the structure, but its unique position and the forces of nature all around meant that little progress was made. After workmen downed tools and prayed to the Virgin Mary for a solution, they awoke to find their tools moved further up the rock face. Taking it as a sign, construction started in this new location. However, progress was still slow and it wasn’t until Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos interjected in 1081 that the project was finally put on the path to completion.

Visiting The Monastery

Monastery of Hozoviotissa

As you may expect, the position of Hozoviotissa makes it somewhat difficult to access. However, there are several ways you can reach the monastery, one of which being as part of a shore excursion with star clippers. The journey can be made on foot from the nearby town of Chora or you can sail into the bay via boat – some brave adventurers have even been known to swim from Agia Anna beach.

However you get there, you will be met by a stone staircase leading up to the entrance, which can feel like an arduous climb if you happen to mistime your visit and arrive during the heat of the midday sun. When you reach the top, though, all thought of the steps will leave your mind as you admire the spectacular views out across the Aegean Sea. There are various different balconies, but the one at the very top boasts the most unrivalled vistas.

Today, the monastery is home to just three monks, who welcome visitors with Turkish delight and shots of local raki. The cavernous, labyrinthine interior features more than 70 rooms carved out of the rock, including the monks’ quarters, kitchens and a chapel where icons and paintings dedicated to the Virgin Mary can be seen.

Please note, a dress code dictates that men wear trousers and women wear long skirts to cover their knees.

If you would like to visit the Monastery of Hozoviotissa, speak to the team today regarding our Eastern Mediterranean cruises. You can call us on 0845 200 6145 or use our online chat service.

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