The most important religious and cultural monument of Amorgos is the Monastery of Hozoviotissa.
It was built in 1088 AD by Emperor Alexios the First of the Komninos kin, who through edict gave different rights to the Monastery, all the while not defining whether “the Monasteries of Patmos and Amorgos are fraternal and the appointment of abbots for the Monastery of Patmos can be sourced from the monks of Amorgos, and for the Monastery of Amorgos from the monks of Patmos”.
Regarding the icon of the Virgin Mary, it is said that during the period of Iconoclasm (or War of Icons), it was cast into the sea by a noble lady of Asia in order to avoid its destruction. Tradition has it that the icon came to Amorgos by boat, and is found just below the location where the resplendent Monastery stands now.
Time wise, the construction of the Monastery during the reign of Alexios the First Komninos does not coincide with the War of Icons which took place earlier. An explanation for this difference between the two events is that the Monastery was actually renovated during the reign of Alexios Komninos which meant that the structure already existed. Therefore it is a shrine that goes back more than a thousand years. The final construction of the Monastery is a tribute to enormous will power as it is a masterpiece of whiteness blending into dark rock.
It is considered to be unique in the world due to its architecture and the view it offers from its vantage point. A place of worship that has left the visitors of previous centuries speechless and continues to fascinate thousands of visitors nowadays who flood the island and all of which go to visit it.
It has been built in the hollow of a vertical rock, at the precipice of Mount Prophetis Elias, at a height of 300 metres from the sea and the same distance from the clearing of the rock above.
The wilderness of the landscape is indescribable. It was the will of the Christiansthat built this monument which, according to scholars today, is particularly difficult to construct. The entire vast edifice consists of a single wall of the south side with a length of 40 metres, and the eastern wall has a width of only five metres! So it is called “the monastery of a single wall.”
Over the passage of time the greater outer wall needed to be strengthened. So two struts were constructed which have given the structure even more distinctiveness. The building consists of eight floors which due to their peculiar design do not directly correspond with each other.
From the entrance the visitor can reach the fourth floor on a straight staircase! The structure contains many rooms. They are close to one hundred; and on top of it you will find the church.
It has always been a rich Monastery with many monks therefore it needed to have the corresponding space. A multitude of courtyards, dining halls, storage areas, rainwater wells, ovens, monks’ dormitories and most prominent of all, the sacristy, all of which comprised the famous edifice.
The wealth of the Monastery was spread across the surrounding islands, Samos, Ikaria, Ios, Naxos, Santorini and even Crete. It also had acquired privately owned islands. Besides this it also held a sacristy ample in content and many handwritten code-bearing membranes and the erudite “Award.”
The Monastery was famous and affluent. Its property underwent many expropriations by the state that were redistributed to landless farmers. This was a typical custom since the beginning of the Monastery’s construction.
After the icon was found a church had to be made for it to be accommodated. But all the building progress that was completed during the day was ruined by night fall. And then, the build supervisor, seeing the disappointment of the others, begged the Virgin Mary to reveal to him the place where she wanted the Monastery to be built. The nextday, a surprise awaited the faithful people of Amorgos. On a steep rock, much higher than where the Belfry is currently today, the chisel (or nail) and all the other tools of the supervisor were found nailed to the rock, a clear sign that that was the location that the Temple should be built. The chisel of the supervisor remained on the rock until 1956, when the expropriation of the buildings of the Monastery began. Then it fell in the courtyard of the Monastery and the people saw this as a sign of the Virgin Mary’s disapproval of the expropriation. The chisel is now showcased at the Church of the Monastery.
The Monastery has contributed to Amorgos greatly. From the Ottoman era, motivated young people found relief with the help of the Monastery. In 1821, the first school opened, whose teachers’ wages were paid by the Monastery from its own resources. Today the Monastery receives thousands of tourists from all parts of the world.
The people of Amorgos are very humble about their Monastery which they revere highly. There is a celebration in its honour on November 21.
It is located two kilometres away from Hora, in which there is also the dependency of Fotodotis. It is an all-male Monastery