Even if you aren't religious, holy buildings – churches, monasteries, temples, etc. – still have a pretty magical aspect to them. There is something about visiting these places, especially when they are hundreds of years old, that is captivating. What is most amazing to me is where some monasteries have been built: high atop mountains, cliffs and natural pillars. It is incredible to think about how these buildings were constructed centuries ago in almost inaccessible places.
Tiger's Nest Monastery, Bhutan (top)
Bhutan's most famous monastery, Tiger's Nest hangs on a cliff at 3,120 meters (10,200). Sitting some 700 meters (2,300 feet) above the floor of the Paro Valley, this is no destination for anyone with acrophobia. In all, the monastery includes seven temples, which are only accessible by way of mule or on foot.
Metéora Monastery, Greece (above)
Like Tiger's Nest, Metéora is also seemingly suspended in the air, adding to its holy status. The complex of monasteries is one of Greece's largest, and it sticks true to its name; in Greek 'Metéora' means 'suspended in the air' or 'in the heavens above'. Built on natural sandstone pillars, the six monasteries are included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Santa María de Monserrat Monastery, Spain (above)
Located high up in the hills near Barcelona, Santa María de Monserrat is a pilgrimage site for many Catalonians. Housing the Virgin Mary of Monserrat, the monastery attracts many visitors curious to see its Holy Grotto. Santa María de Monserrat is also famous for its boy choir, known for their recordings and performances of Gregorian chants in the Basilica.
Yumbu Lakang Monastery, Tibet (above)
Yumbu Lakang, meaning 'palace of mother and son' in the Tibetan dialect, is a monastery full of history. The first palace and one of the earliest buildings of Tibet, Yumbulanaga was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution but rebuilt in the 1980s, complete with impressively painted wall murals that tell the history of Tibet. AB