Amorgos island is known to have over 350 churches. In every corner, you may find yourself in, there will no doubt be a church. One monument which cannot simply be missed when visiting the island is the Monastery of Hozoviotissa. It is one of the most popular monasteries in Greece, one with great religious and historical significance; giving you just another great reason to visit Amorgos.
Situated 300m above sea level, this Byzantine monument is the second built church in Greece. Built into the steep mountains of Amorgos, the monastery of Hozoviotissa is a must-see monument for everyone who visits Amorgos, no matter their religion. As it is built in the mountains, those visiting need to take about 200 small stairs to get to the top. This in itself is part of the beautiful energy of the monastery, because it is the journey of reaching to the top that add to the uniqueness of the experience. Here you can’t help but feel the tranquil energy of the crystal quarts found in the mountain walls. Looking to your right, you will experience an amazing view of the crystal-clear Aegean Sea. Reaching up to the Monastery gate, visitors must be mindful of the religious customs and beliefs. Humble dress is required as in most monasteries, meaning that shoulders, arms and legs must be fully covered. As part of the religious tradition, women must also wear skirts, but this is only for when you are inside the monastery. You will find some elastic skirts at the entrance which you can wear on top of your initial clothing.
Dating back to the 11th century, the monastery of Hozoviotissa was built in the honour of Virgin Mary, grace of Panagia, known as the saint protector of the island. It is also here where Panagia Portais, the famous 15th century Easter Orthodox icon of Virgin Mary, painted by Luke the Evangelist is situated. The icon was washed away on the shores of Amorgos and its arrival is supposed to be from Hozova in Palestine. Therefore, the monastery is of high historic and religious importance.
Every year, on November 21st, Monastery of Hozoviotissa celebrates the day of Panagia, which honours and celebrates Virgin Marry, protector of Amorgos island. Locals and people from neighbouring islands come to assist at the beautiful ceremony and be part of this yearly religious event. The night before, many people go to the Monastery and take part in the late night religious service, and afterwards they sleep outside the monastery, known to be a unique and spiritual experience. The next day, they wake up early and join in on the abundant feast put together by the monastery and volunteering locals. They all share food and come together to celebrate their faith, honour Virgin Mary and this beautiful monument, all whilst surrounded the peaceful and spiritual energy of the island.
The Monastery is located in Chora, the capital centre of Amorgos island. It is about 10 minutes’ drive from the actual centre, and very near Agia Anna beach. There are monks who live there and the monastery is open every day but at specific times, usually from 8:30am – 1pm and then again from 5pm-7pm. Visiting the monastery of Hozoviotissa is a unique spiritual experience and those lucky enough to be part of it will no doubt create an unforgettable memory of their visit.