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Mysterious Ways: Secret Spaces

Explore these sanctuaries of calm and solitude, discovered by our editors and readers.

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Chiatura, Republic of Georgia
The Katskhi Pillar
For centuries, villagers from Chiatura, in the Republic of Georgia, gazed up at the 130-feet-tall Katskhi Pillar in wonder. How was its tiny chapel built on top? It’s a mystery yet to be solved. An eighteenth-century geographical survey says, “Nobody is able to ascend it; nor know they how.” In 1944, climbers scaled the pillar and found the ruins of a second church and a crypt containing 600-year-old remains. The chapel was built by Stylites, Christian ascetics, around the seventh century. A modern-day Stylite, Father Maxime Qavtaradze, now calls the top of the rock home. A former crane operator—no fear of heights!—he descends a ladder to pray with visitors, but prefers his perch in the heavens: “It’s up here in the silence that you can feel God’s presence.”–Allison Churchill, Mysterious Ways Contributing Editor