Αρχική > πολιτισμός > 10 Amazing Christian Monasteries / 10 Gothic Cathedrals of Medieval Europe

10 Amazing Christian Monasteries / 10 Gothic Cathedrals of Medieval Europe

#1 of Amazing Christian Monasteries


Written by touropia on September 27, 2010 in Europe, World ReligionsNo comments

Christian Monasticism is a practice which began to develop early in the history of the Christian Church, modeled upon scriptural examples and ideals, including those in the Old Testament. Originally, all Christian monks were hermits seldom encountering other people (monos means alone in Greek). But because of the extreme difficulty of the solitary life, many monks failed, either returning to their previous lives, or becoming spiritually deluded. As more people took on the lives of monks they started to come together and eventually lived in Christian monasteries.

10Alcobaca Monastery

Alcobaca Monasteryflickr/* starrynight1

The Alcobaça Monastery is a Roman Catholic Monastery located in the town of Alcobaça, in central Portugal. It was founded by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, in 1153, and maintained a close association with the Kings of Portugal throughout its history. The church and monastery were the first Gothic buildings in Portugal, and, together with the Monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, it was one of the most important of the medieval Christian monasteries in Portugal.

9Sümela Monastery

Sümela Monasteryflickr/antonioperezrio.com

The Sümela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery, standing at the foot of a steep cliff facing the Altindere valley in modern-day Turkey. Founded in the year 386 AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I (375 – 395), legend has it that two priests undertook the founding of the monastery on the site after having discovered a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave on the mountain. During its long history, the Sümela Monastery fell into ruin several times and was restored by various Roman Emperors. It reached its present form in the 13th century.

8Ostrog Monastery

Ostrog Monasteryflickr/x@ray

The Monastery of Ostrog is a Serb Orthodox monastery placed against an almost vertical background, high up in the large rock of Ostroška Greda. It is dedicated to Saint Basil of Ostrog and is the most popular pilgrimage place in Montenegro. Founded in the 17th century, the present-day look was given in 1923-1926, after a fire which had destroyed the major part of the complex. Fortunately, the two little cave-churches were spared and they are the key areas of the monument.

7Kiev Pechersk Lavra

Kiev Pechersk Lavraflickr/Stuck in Customs

Kiev Pechersk Lavra, also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, is a historic Orthodox Christian monastery in Kiev, Ukraine. Since its foundation as the cave monastery in 1015 the Lavra has been a preeminent center of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Eastern Europe. The Kiev Pechersk Lavra contains numerous architectural monuments, ranging from he Great Lavra Belltower, the notable feature of the Kiev skyline, to cathedrals to underground cave systems and to strong stone fortification walls.

6Gelati Monastery

Gelati Monasteryflickr/SusanAstray

The Monastery of Gelati is a monastic complex in western Georgia. It contains the Church of the Virgin founded by the King of Georgia David the Builder in 1106, and the 13th-century churches of St George and St Nicholas. For a long time, the Gelati Monastery was one of the main cultural and intellectual centers in Georgia. It had an Academy which employed some of the most celebrated Georgian scientists, theologians and philosophers.

5Mount Athos

Mount Athosflickr/treviño

Mount Athos is a mountain and a peninsula in northern Greece. The peninsula, the easternmost “leg” of the larger Halkidiki peninsula houses some 1,400 monks in 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries. An autonomous state under Greek sovereignty, entry into the area is strictly controlled and accessible only by boat. Only males are allowed entrance into Mount Athos and only male monks male monks are allowed to live there. Of the twenty monasteries, one is Russian, one is Bulgarian, one is Serbian and the rest are Greek. There are also Romanian and Bulgarian communities of Christian hermits following a monastic rule (called sketae). The foreign monasteries and sketae are supported by their respective countries.

4Rila Monastery

Rila Monasteryflickr/Boby Dimitrov

The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, better known as the Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is situated in the northwestern Rila Mountains, in the deep valley of the Rilska River. It is traditionally thought that the monastery was founded by the hermit Saint Ivan of Rila, whose name it bears, during the rule of Tsar Peter I (927-968). The hermit actually lived in a cave without any material possessions not far from the monastery’s location, while the complex was built by his students, who came to the mountains to receive their education.

3Saint Catherine’s Monastery

Saint Catherine's Monasteryflickr/dionc

Saint Catherine’s Monastery lies on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, at the mouth of a gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Orthodox monastery has been called the oldest working Christian monastery in the world, although the Monastery of Saint Anthony, situated across the Red Sea in the desert south of Cairo, also lays claim to that title. The monastery was built by order of the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I (reigned 527-565) at the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the burning bush. The monastery library preserves the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world, outnumbered only by the Vatican Library.

2El Escorial

El Escorialflickr/Alvaro Oporto

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama in Spain, the world famous Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (El Escorial for short), was the political center of the Spanish empire under King Philip II. Philip appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo as the architect in 1559. Juan Bautista had spent the greater part of his career in Rome, where he had worked on the basilica of St. Peter’s. Together they designed El Escorial as a monument to Spain’s role as a center of the Christian world. Today it is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school.


#1 of Amazing Christian Monasteriesflickr/Maciej Zagozda

Metéora (“suspended in the air”) is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. The six Christian monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars in central Greece. In the 14th century, Athanasios Koinovitis from Mount Athos founded the great Meteoron monastery on Broad Rock. The location was perfect for the monks; they were safe from political upheaval and had complete control of the entry to the monasteries. Access to the monasteries was deliberately difficult, requiring either long ladders lashed together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. This required quite a leap of faith – the ropes were replaced only “when the Lord let them break”.



10 Gothic Cathedrals of Medieval Europe


Written by touropia on March 1, 2011 in Europe, World Religions10 Comments

Gothic cathedrals are not the religious building of the ancient Goths, but rather cathedrals built in the Gothic architecture. Just as Vandalism doesn’t have anything to do with the Vandals, Gothic architecture has nothing to do with the Goths. It’s a style of architecture that developed in France out of the Romanesque style in the 12th century and was simply known as the “French Style”. Gothic architecture spread to all of Western Europe and continued to evolve until well into the 16th century, before being subsumed into Renaissance art. Only then it was called “Gothic”, and not in a positive way as the Goths were considered rude and barbaric.

The Gothic style emphasizes verticality and light. This appearance was achieved by the development of certain architectural features such as the clustered columns, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses. Although the architecture is used in many castles, palaces and town halls it is the magnificent Cathedrals of Europe that really demonstrate the beauty of Gothic architecture.

10St Stephen’s Cathedral

St Stephen's Cathedralflickr/photoAtlas

St Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom), situated at the heart of Vienna, has survived many wars and is now a symbol of the city’s freedom. The Gothic cathedral stands on the ruins of two earlier churches and was largely initiated by Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, in the 14th century. Its most recognizable characteristic, the diamond-patterned tile roof, was only added in 1952.

9Burgos Cathedral

Burgos Cathedralflickr/Lumiago

The Burgos Cathedral is a medieval cathedral in Burgos, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is famous for its vast size and unique Gothic architecture. Construction of Burgos Cathedral began in 1221, and after a lengthy hiatus of almost 2 centuries, was completed in 1567. In 1919 the cathedral became the burial place of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (“El Cid”), and his wife Doña Jimena.

8Reims Cathedral

Reims Cathedralflickr/Chi King

Reims Cathedral was the church in which numerous French monarchs were officially crowned. It was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496. The cathedral was completed by the end of the 13th century, with the west front added in the 14th century.

7Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedralflickr/giovanni_novara

An exceptionally large and elaborate Gothic cathedral on the main square of Milan, the Duomo di Milano is one of the most famous buildings in Europe. It is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world. Construction began in 1386 under Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo in a Late Gothic style more typically French than Italian. It took five centuries to complete the famous cathedral.

6Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedralflickr/Dr. Jaus

Built on the site of a grand Almohad Mosque, Seville’s medieval cathedral was built to demonstrate Seville’s power and wealth after the Reconquista. At the time of its completion in the 16th century, it supplanted the Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world. It is still the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world. The builders used some columns and elements from the mosque, most famously the Giralda, a minaret converted into a bell tower.

5York Minster

York Minsterflickr/jack_spellingbacon

One of the two largest Gothic cathedrals in northern Europe (alongside Cologne Cathedral in Germany), York Minster dominates the skyline of the ancient city of York. York Minster incorporates all the major stages of Gothic architectural development in England. The present building was begun in about 1230 and completed in 1472. The “Great East Window” inside the cathedral is the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in the world.

4Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Parisflickr/MPD01605

Notre Dame de Paris is a beautiful Catholic cathedral in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. Begun in 1163 it was essentially complete by around 1345. One of the most famous French Gothic cathedrals, the Notre Dame a great example of French Gothic architecture, sculpture and stained glass. During the French Revolution in the 1790s, much of its sculptures and treasures were damaged or destroyed. Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor here on December 2, 1804.

3Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedralflickr/Curnen

Easily the greatest Gothic cathedral in Germany, Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) has been Cologne’s most famous landmark for centuries. Once the tallest building in the world, it still has the largest facade anywhere. The famous cathedral stands on the site of a 4th century Roman temple, followed by a church commissioned by Maternus, the first Christian bishop of Cologne. Construction of the present Gothic church began in 1248 and took, with interruptions, more than 600 years to complete. It is dedicated to the saints Peter and Mary and is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne.

2Santa Maria del Fiore

Santa Maria del Fioreflickr/Sbaush

Begun in 1296 in the Gothic style and completed in 1436, The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is Florence’s beautiful cathedral and symbol of the city. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white. The basilica is one of Italy’s largest churches, and until the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.

1Chartres Cathedral

#1 of Gothic Cathedralsflickr/PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE

The Chartres Cathedral is located in of Chartres, a town near Paris that seems too small to fit the Cathedral. Not only is Chartres Cathedral one of the finest examples of the French High Gothic style, it is almost perfectly preserved. The majority of the original stained glass windows survive intact, while the architecture has seen only minor changes since the early 13th century.

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