If spirituality entices you along with meditative chants and riveting discussions with monks and nuns fascinate you, monasteries are your peaceful retreats. Housing monks and nuns, monasteries are a place to live in seclusion where the inhabitants explore faith. An array of religions has monasteries, including Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, where the people who chose this path believe in living humbly. The Greek root meaning of the term “monastery” itself signifies living alone. Not everyone can adopt such a lifestyle, albeit experiencing it for a while can bestow peace to the soul. This is a guide to remote monasteries on earth.

10 Meteora Monasteries

Deemed as the miracle of Greece, Meteora Monasteries are perched on top of huge rock columns overlooking the Plain of Thessaly. Located near the northwest of the town of Kalabaka, Meteora has mind-blowing rock formations which were worshipped by ancient people, and monasteries were established here between the 13th and 14th centuries. The Orthodox Christian hermit monks used the cliffs of Meteora for spiritual reasons initially. Once upon a time, Meteora beheld 24 monasteries, although six are operating currently. To have this incredible experience, visitors need to hike stone steps and narrow paths with the picturesque village of Kastraki around.

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9 Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Tiger’s Nest monastery, also known as Taktsang, is one of the sacred sites of Bhutan, founded in 1962, and has folklore along with it. The Buddhist Lama, Guru Rinpoche, sanctified Bhutan from a local demon on a tigress's back and meditated thereafter. Thus, the monastery nestled on hills surrounded by lush forest is named Tiger’s Nest. Having spectacular architecture, this monastery owns fascinating elements such as caves, sculptures, paintings, and statues. The complex can be reached by stone paths and also by navigating the wobbly wooden bridges.

8 St George’s Monastery

The magnificent St George monastery is considered one of the holy places of Israel. Built-in the 4th century by an Egyptian monk, John of Thebes, along with five Syrian hermits in the desolate valley of Wadi Qelt, this monastery comprises two levels with two churches within the complex. Holding religious paintings, mosaics, as well as bones of the monks, this monastery is quite near the Jerusalem-Dead Sea highway.

7 Taung Kalat

Located in Myanmar and perched atop a long extinct volcano, Taung Kalat monastery is a Buddhist monastery built in the 19th century. The term itself means “Pedestal Hill” and lies southwest of Mount Popa, which is in Central Burma. One has to climb 777 steps to reach the monastery. The monastery is renowned for its golden stupas, and also two important festivals celebrated during May and June as well as November and December sometimes. Also, the Burmese New Year known as the “Thingyan Festival,” falls in April.

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6 Key Monastery

This Tibetan Buddhist monastery is located in the Spiti Lahaul district of India and is situated at the height of 4166 meters above sea level. Being the largest monastery of Spiti valley and a religious center for Lamas, it is 1000 years old. Known for ancient murals, unique thangkas (paintings depicting Buddha or lamas), and ancient weapons, the room called “Tangyur” is a must-see over here. The monastery belongs to Tibetan Buddhism and is famous for its architecture called Pasada Style.

5 Ostrog Monastery

This 17th-century monastery is located in Montenegro, southeastern Europe. Part of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Ostrog monastery is nestled in a vertically positioned mountain cliff. This revered holy site is often visited by Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Muslims. The monastery comprises two parts, upper and lower, as well as a cave-like chapel adorned with faded frescoes harking back to 1667. Pilgrims believe in going barefoot for the last three kilometers with the hope that the relics of Saint Basil can help them.

4 Phugtal Gompa

A Buddhist monastery situated in the remote Lungnak valley in Zanskar, India, is around 2550 years old. Before the monastery, its remote location served as an abode for Buddhist monks due to its transcendental nature. Built around an old cave, the term, Phugtal means “Liberation” in the Zanskari language, and the flowing water beneath the monastery possesses healing properties. The two villages, Ammu and Cha, are located close to Phugtal and are worth exploring for relaxation.

3 Hanging Monastery

Mysteriously suspended in midair and perched on Hengshan mountain around 30 meters above ground, this monastery is located in Shanxi province, China. Being the only monastery to comprise three religions of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, it is around 1500 years old. An excellent feat of engineering, it was built by a monk called Liao Ran during Northern Wei Dynasty. The entire temple is of wooden structure and has two pavilions, a bridge, and 40 halls. April to October is deemed the best period to visit this monastery over chilly winters.

2 Katskhi Pillar

Known as the most isolated church in the world, Katskhi Pillar is a natural limestone monolith that is 130 feet high in the air. The church and three hermit cells are perched on the top, which can be accessed by a precarious steel ladder. To be spiritually closer to God, Christian ascetics, also known as Stylites, spent their days living on top. The place was abandoned & lost in oblivion for 500 years until a Georgian mountaineer, Alexander Japaridze, discovered the bones of the last Christian ascetic who resided here. The village of Katskhi lies in the western Georgian region of Imereti, and currently, the church is closed to the public.

1 Debre Damo

This African monastery located in the north of Ethiopia is quite unique as it is nestled in a secluded spot atop a flat-topped mountain and can be reached only via a rope helping to scale a 15-meter-high cliff as well as climbing the staircases. This experience makes this monastery quite unique. Hailing back to the 6th century, this monastery has carved wood panels, painted ceilings, age-old manuscripts, Aksumite architecture, as well as artifacts dedicated to Saint Abune Aregawi. Still home to monks, this place is quite a memorable experience.