Monastery of the Virgin Mary (Panagia) Hozoviotissa
The island’s top attraction is the 10th century cliffside monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa, dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin, a spiritual haven and one of the most important ecclesiastic monuments in Greece. Set high up on the steepest rock of Mt. Profitis Elias, 300m above the Aegean, the building resembles a “chest of drawers”, according to the French explorer Pitton de Tournefort. Visible only from the sea, the monastery is an example of human triumph over nature, a wonder that will leave you awestruck.
According to tradition, the monastery was founded by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos in 1088, during the period of Iconoclasm, when the icon of Panayia was sent by a woman from Hozovo from Palestine and miraculously made its way to Amorgos. According to another version, the Monastery was founded in the 9th century by monks from Palestine and was later renovated by the emperor Alexios I Komnenos.
The monastery has eight floors connected by narrow stone staircases carved into the rock. 350 steps lead you to the monastery, the interior of which is like a labyrinth. The cells of the monks are all carved into the rock to form a unique example of traditional architecture. Two icons of the Virgin Mary and other religious relics from the period of Alexios Komninos have been found at the monastery. Important heirlooms such as a manuscript, gospels, vestments and ecclesiastical utensils dating from the 10th to the 19th century are also on display.
There is a stunning view of the island’s wild beauty from the highest balcony of the Monastery. On the 21st of November there is a celebration of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, the highlight of which is the procession of Her holy icon. After the procession there is a massive feast with plenty of food, wine and delicious traditional sweets!