monastery complexes


Mes Aynak, An Ancient Buddhist Complex, Afghanistan
Mes Aynak is a site 40 km (25 mi) southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan, located in a barren region of Logar Province.
The site contains Afghanistan’s largest copper deposit, as well as the remains of an ancient settlement with over 400 Buddha statues, stupas and a 40 ha (100 acres) monastery complex.

Photo-1: Twitter: OCHA Afghanistan
Photo-2: Twitter: Attaullah Waziri
Photo-3: illustration Created by National Geographic Magazine Depicting What Mes Aynak May Have Looked Like 2000 Years Ago.
Twitter: indianhistorypics


The Buddhists Vs. The Billionaire

In Russia’s Ural Mountains, a small group of Buddhists led by a veteran of the U.S.S.R.’s Afghanistan war has spent the past 21 years establishing a monastery on an isolated mountaintop. But it sits on land claimed by a company belonging to one of Russia’s most powerful oligarchs. After years of delays, a date has now been set for the complex’s removal. RFE/RL’s Amos Chapple visited the monastery for the inside story.

A 7-kilometer forest trail leads up to the monastery on the summit of Mount Kachkanar, which rises 888 meters above sea level. What started as a wooden shack has grown into a complex featuring a Buddha statue, living quarters and communal kitchen, and sauna. The monastery is named Shad Tchup Ling, meaning “ place of practice and realization.”

Mikhail Sannikov, a soldier turned Buddhist monk, founded the monastery in 1995. The 55-year-old abbot saw heavy action as a commander in the Soviet Army during the 1979-89 occupation of Afghanistan. Sannikov, who now goes by the title Lama Dokshit, says he left the army in 1987 a damaged man after being wounded in separate encounters by “two bullets, a knife, and a piece of shrapnel.” The fighting haunted him for years afterward. “Sometimes it would come up during the ordinary things in life – I’d be watching an action movie and start counting how many bullets [the character] has left. It was hard to sleep at night.”

After leaving the army, Sannikov took menial jobs and hunted for “some kind of purpose.” In 1989 he wound up in Russia’s Buryatia region, where he studied Buddhism for six years. At the time of his studies, Sannikov says, Buddhism was almost exclusively practiced in the east of the country. “I thought it was strange; we have good people in central Russia, too. My teacher said, ‘Well, go there, then.’” Sannikov says that after his teacher drew a silhouette of a mountain, “my task was clear.”

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Takht-i Rustam (Haibak), literal meaning the throne of Rustam, named after Rustam, a king in Persian mythology, is a hilltop settlement. It is dated to the 4th and 5th centuries of the Kushano-Sassanian period, which is corroborated by archaeological, architectural and numismatic evidence. It is located in Afghanistan 3 km to the southwest of Samangan town. It is the location of a stupa-monastery complex which is fully carved into the mountain rock.

Concerto for Violin, Strings & Continuo in D, RV.211, III. Allegro
La Serenissima, Adrian Chandler, Katy Bircher, Peter Whelan
Concerto for Violin, Strings & Continuo in D, RV.211, III. Allegro

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (1678-1741).

During his lifetime, Vivaldi’s popularity quickly made him famous over Europe, though after the Baroque period Vivaldi’s published concerti became relatively unknown and were largely ignored. 

In 1926, in a monastery in Piedmont, researchers discovered fourteen folios of Vivaldi’s work that were previously thought to have been lost during the Napoleonic Wars. Some missing volumes in the numbered set were discovered in the collections of the descendants of the Grand Duke Durazzo, who had acquired the monastery complex in the 18th century. The volumes contained 300 concertos, 19 operas and over 100 vocal-instrumental works.

The resurrection of Vivaldi’s unpublished works in the 20th century is mostly due to the efforts of Alfredo Casella, who in 1939 organized the historic Vivaldi Week, in which the rediscovered Gloria (RV 589) and l'Olimpiade were revived. Since World War II, Vivaldi’s compositions have enjoyed wide success.

Certosa di San Martino is a former monastery complex, now a museum, in Naples, Southern Italy. Along with Castel Sant'Elmo just beside it, it’s the most visible landmark of the city, perched atop the Vomero hill. A Carthusian monastery, it was inaugurated under the rule of Queen Joan I in 1368. In the 1800s under French rule, the monastery was closed and abandoned by the religious order. Today, the buildings house a museum with a display of Spanish and Bourbon era artifacts, as well as displays of the presepe - Nativity scene - considered to be among the finest in the world.


Solovetsky Islands. Russia.

Historically the islands have been the setting of the famous Russian Orthodox Solovetsky Monastery complex. It was founded in the second quarter of the 15th century by two monks from the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery. By the end of the 16th century, the abbey had emerged as one of the wealthiest landowners and most influential religious centres in Russia.

Соловецкие острова.Россия.

Спасо-Преображе́нский Солове́цкий монасты́рь возник в 1429-1430-е года, в допетровское время числился среди крупнейших землевладельцев государства. В 1669—1676 гг. осаждён царскими войсками как один из очагов сопротивления никонианским преобразованиям.

При советской власти на территории монастыря действовал первый в стране лагерь особого назначения.


The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora

The Chora Church was originally built as part of a monastery complex outside the walls of Constantinople, to the south of the Golden Horn. The last part of that name, Chora, referring to its location originally outside of the walls, became the shortened name of the church. The original church on this site was built in the early 5th century, and stood outside of the 4th century walls of Constantine the Great. However, when Theodosius II built his formidable land walls in 413–414, the church became incorporated within the city’s defences, but retained the name Chora. The name must have carried symbolic meaning, as the mosaics in the narthex describe Christ as the Land of the Living (ἡ Χώρα των ζώντων, hē Chōra tōn zōntōn) and Mary, the mother of Jesus, as the Container of the Uncontainable (ἡ Χώρα του Ἀχωρήτου, hē Chōra tou Achōrētou).

The majority of the fabric of the current building dates from 1077–1081, when Maria Dukaina, the mother-in-law of Alexius I Comnenus, rebuilt the Chora Church as an inscribed cross or quincunx: a popular architectural style of the time. Early in the 12th century, the church suffered a partial collapse, perhaps due to an earthquake. The church was rebuilt by Isaac Comnenus, Alexius’s third son. However, it was only after the third phase of building, two centuries after, that the church as it stands today was completed. The powerful Byzantine statesman Theodore Metochites endowed the church with many of its fine mosaics and frescos. Theodore’s impressive decoration of the interior was carried out between 1315 and 1321. The mosaic-work is the finest example of the Palaeologian Renaissance. The artists remain unknown. In 1328, Theodore was sent into exile by the usurper Andronicus III Palaeologus. However, he was allowed to return to the city two years later, and lived out the last two years of his life as a monk in his Chora Church.

During the last siege of Constantinople in 1453, the Icon of the Theotokos Hodegetria, considered the protector of the City, was brought to Chora in order to assist the defenders against the assault of the Ottomans.

Around fifty years after the fall of the city to the Ottomans, Atık Ali Paşa, the Grand Vizier of Sultan Bayezid II, ordered the Chora Church to be converted into a mosque — Kariye Camii. Due to the prohibition against iconic images in Islam, the mosaics and frescoes were covered behind a layer of plaster. This and frequent earthquakes in the region have taken their toll on the artwork.

In 1948, Thomas Whittmore and Paul A. Underwood, from the Byzantine Institute of America and the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, sponsored a programme of restoration. From that time on, the building ceased to be a functioning mosque. In 1958, it was opened to the public as a museum — Kariye Müzesi.


Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan.

Paro Taktsang is the popular name of Taktsang Palphug Monastery (also known as Tiger’s Nest), a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex, located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley, in Bhutan. The temple complex was first built in 1692.

The monastery is situated at 3.000 meters above sea level on the mountainous cliffs around Paro Valley and it is built into the rock face. Though it looks formidable, the monastery complex has access from several directions, including a path on the rocky plateau from the north, known as the “Hundred Thousand Fairies”.

The monastery of Geghard (Armenian: Գեղարդ, meaning spear) is a unique architectural construction in the Kotayk province of Armenia, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.While the main chapel was built in 1215, the monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave. The monastery had thus been originally named Ayrivank, meaning “the Monastery of the Cave”. The name commonly used for the monastery today, Geghard, or more fully Geghardavank (Գեղարդավանք), meaning “the Monastery of the Spear”, originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, called here Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics. Now it is displayed in the Echmiadzin treasury.