A Tour of the Hauntingly Beautiful Christian Monastery in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Mike Lorden, Flickr

If you’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens (don’t worry, no major spoilers here!), a key scene takes places on a mysterious island with beautiful ancient ruins. Surely, you may have thought, this setting came from the filmmakers’ imaginations and was a constructed set, like many of the fantastic Star Wars settings?

Nope, the place really exists: it’s the Irish island Skellig Michael, and the ruins are an ancient Christian monastery!

[See also: 16 Churches So Beautiful They’ll Take Your Breath Away]

[See also: Want Something Creepy? Step Inside Europe’s “Bone Churches”]

Here’s a shot of the island:

ash_crow, Flickr
ash_crow, Flickr

And here’s part of the monastery (more pictures at the end of the article!):

Mike Lorden, Flickr
Those stones in the foreground are grave markers. / Mike Lorden, Flickr

Skellig Michael is one of the two Skellig Islands, about 7 miles (11 km) off the coast of southwestern Ireland. It was apparently uninhabited (probably due to its inaccessibility and rocky terrain) until St. Finnian of Clonard founded a monastery there in the 6th century.

St. Finnian is really important to Irish Christianity, since the 12 early Irish saints known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland studied under him.

The monastery thrived and lasted for centuries. Winding stairs, a number of monastic cells (the small buildings that look like beehives), oratories, a hermitage, and a full church were eventually built. One written history of the island even records that the monastery survived a Viking attack in the 9th century.

The island got its name “Michael” from the fact that a church was built on the island in the mid-10th century and was dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.

Unfortunately, the monastery was abandoned sometime in the 12th or 13th centuries. Today, the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open to visitors.

Here are more pictures of this amazingly beautiful place (with a cool video at the end):

Mike Lorden, Flickr
Mike Lorden, Flickr
Valerie Hinojosa, Flickr
Valerie Hinojosa, Flickr
Mike Lorden, Flickr
Mike Lorden, Flickr
Javier Rioja, Flickr
Javier Rioja, Flickr
Paul Downey, Flickr
Paul Downey, Flickr
Maureen, Flickr
Maureen, Flickr
Mike Lorden, Flickr
Mike Lorden, Flickr
ash_crow, Flickr
ash_crow, Flickr
jpc.raleigh, Flickr
jpc.raleigh, Flickr
Valerie Hinojosa, Flickr
Valerie Hinojosa, Flickr
Mike Lorden, Flickr
Mike Lorden, Flickr
Valerie Hinojosa, Flickr
Valerie Hinojosa, Flickr
Florian Christoph, Flickr
Florian Christoph, Flickr

So who wants to visit?!

[See also: 18 Magical Photos of France’s Breathtaking Mont Saint-Michel]

[See also: 11 Amazing Relics from the Life of Our Lord Jesus]

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