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Monastery of St. Nilus on Stolbnyi Island in Lake Seliger near Ostashkov, Russia, ca. 1910
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Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain. Built in 1563–1584.
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The Sumela Monastery, south of Trabzon in Eastern Turkey. Built in 4th century (estimated 386 AD).

The monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in communities or alone (hermits). The monastery generally includes a place reserved for prayer which may be a chapel, church or temple, and may also serve as an oratory.

Monasteries vary greatly in size, comprising a small dwelling accommodating only a hermit, or in the case of communities anything from a single building housing only one senior and two or three junior monks or nuns, to vast complexes and estates housing tens or hundreds. A monastery complex typically comprises a number of buildings which include a church, dormitory, cloister, refectory, library, balneary and infirmary. Depending on the location, the monastic order and the occupation of its inhabitants, the complex may also include a wide range of buildings that facilitate self-sufficiency and service to the community. These may include a hospice, a school and a range of agricultural and manufacturing buildings such as a barn, a forge or a brewery.

In English usage, the term monastery is generally used to denote the buildings of a community of monks. In modern usage, convent tends to be applied only to institutions of female monastics (nuns), particularly communities of teaching or nursing religious sisters. Historically, a convent denoted a house of friars (reflecting the Latin), now more commonly called a friary. Various religions may apply these terms in more specific ways.


Monastery sections
Intro   Etymology   Monastic life  Buddhism  Christianity  Hinduism  Sufism  See also  References  External links  

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