Skellig Michael and the Ancient Monastery in the Middle of the Ocean
Skellig Michael, which means Michael's rock in Irish language, also known as Great Skellig, is a steep rocky island in the Atlantic Ocean 12 km off the coast of south-west Ireland. Perched high at the summit of a 230-metre-high rock is an ancient monastery probably founded during the 7th century. For 600 years the island was a centre of monastic life for Irish Christian monks. The monks lived in stone 'beehive' huts perched above nearly vertical cliff walls totally cut-off from the rest of the world by vast expanse of water, except for the occasional Viking invaders who raided the monastery from time to time.
Skellig Michael is an outstanding example of an early religious settlement deliberately sited on a pyramidal rock in the ocean, preserved because of a remarkable environment. The very spartan conditions inside the monastery illustrate the ascetic lifestyle practiced by early Irish Christians. Because of the extreme remoteness of Skellig Michael, the island has until recently discouraged visitors. This kept the site exceptionally well preserved.
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