Built in AD495 and dedicated to the worship of the sun , this monastery has had a colourful history. It had to be rebuilt in 607 after it was destroyed by the Persians and then was looted by the Tamerlane a couple of centuries later.The magnificent building was later abandoned until the bishop of Mardin carried out important renovations and stayed there until he died. It then became the official seat of the patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox church until it was moved to Damascus in 1932 , the site continues to act as a local boarding school.
The monastery has 365 rooms – one for each day of the year.
Down a flight of narrow stairs leads you to the ‘original sanctuary’ an eerie underground chamber.This room was reportedly used by the sun worshippers, whereby they viewed their god rising through the small window at the eastern end. The ceiling is constructed by huge rocks held magically together without any mortar.
Built by Alexius Comnenus I, this beautiful 11th century monastery perched up a steep cliff was built as an ode to the Grace of Panagia. Grace of Panagia who is also known as the Virgin Mary is the saint protector of the island and her icon was believed to have arrived on an unmanned boat from Palestine.
Once suitably dressed i.e men to wear trousers and women long skirts, you are greeted by monks who act as guardians to this historical building. After a short tour around this marvel,filled with portraits of monks and other important treasures as well as taking in the breath taking views of the sparkling blue waters of the Aegean Sea. You are invited to sit down and are served with refreshments in the form of Honey Raki and loukoumi which is the very tasty Greek version of Turkish delight.
A powerful mythology has grown up around the monastery at Tengboche (Thyangboche) as a result of the writings of explorers and mountaineers.Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, an inhabitant of this village, were the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest on the British 1953 expedition and hence why this monastery has acquired international interest. Due to its routing Everest expeditioners visit the monastery to light candles and seek the blessings of gods for good health and safe mountaineering.
However the gompa is not as old as you might expect. The first gompa at Tengboche was constructed in 1916 by Lama Gulu, a monk from Khumjung, but the building was destroyed in the earthquake of 1934. A second gompa on the site lasted until 1989, when an electrical fire burned the stone and-timber structure to the ground.Sherphas , foreign aid organizations, Buddhish groups and mountaineering organizations then contributed allowing the monastery to be reconstructed with its doors opening in 1993.Luckily most of the gompa’s valuable books, paintings and religious relics were saved.
John Hunt, the leader of the 1953 expedition and one of the first mountaineers to visit the monastery ( offered the following description of Thengboche in The Ascent of Everest:
“Thyangboche must be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The height is well over 12,000 feet. The Monastery buildings stand upon a knoll at the end of a big spur, which is flung out across the direct axis of the Imja river. Surrounded by satellite dwellings, all quaintly constructed and oddly mediaeval in appearance, it provides a grandstand beyond comparison for the finest mountain scenery that I have ever seen, whether in the Himalaya or elsewhere.”