Panagia Hozoviotissa, Amorgos
If you’re happy to climb 1000 stairs, you’ll be rewarded with the spectacular sight of the monastery Panagia Hozoviotissa.
The Monastery is built on the steepest rock, 300 metres above sea level. I am in awe trying to comprehend how they built this one thousand years ago. It is simply breathtaking once you reach it – literally. The view and experience was well worth the uphill battle.
The reason behind the building of the monastery was the arrival of the icon of Virgin Mary (panagia). According to the surviving written records the icon came from Hozova (hozovo) in Palestine, and the monastery translates to Virgin Mary of Hozova.
Tradition has it the icon reached the island in a boat which had run ashore, directly below the point on which the monastery stands today. Two locals found the icon and news quickly spread from island to island.
When the news reached Constantinople in 1088, the Emperor ordered the construction of the monastery.
The monastery began to be built near the ocean where the icon had been found. Yet each day the builders came to work, whatever they had done the day prior was mysteriously knocked down by mother nature. This happened for a few days. Finally, the master builder lost his tool bag. It was found hanging off a nail on the cliff above. They all believed this was a miracle and a sign from Virgin Mary (panagia) to build the monastery up higher.
The stairwell leading you into the monastery is shown in my photo below. There are stairs and passage ways that take you to different levels. The monastery is built into the rock.
For me, this is one of the most exceptional spots I have ever visited. A spiritual place built into a rock with a view of paradise.
The photo below shows the view from the top. There is a scene in Luc Besson’s film The Big Blue, where the camera films above the sea and leads up to Panagia Hozoviotissa.
The monastery is open from 8am-1pm and 5pm-7pm.
If you are travelling during the summer months, my recommendation is to go first thing in the morning or later in the day.
Wearing appropriate clothing (modest skirt, long sleeve top for women, long pants for men) is imperative.
And don’t worry, if you forget to wear ‘modest’ clothing, it will be offered to you before you walk in.
Panagia Hozoviotissa is located close by to Agia Anna. My recommendation is to visit both places in the one day. See my post on Agia Anna for more information.