This House Is Not for the Faint of Heart

Would you be able to live in a place like this? The idea may be totally romantic, living in a simple abode on high, and what about the view? It must be totally spectacular from this vantage point. But admittedly, these imaginings do come with their fair share of vertigo. We don’t mind heights, per se, but let’s face it – this house is pretty freakin’ high! And the craziest thing about it is that someone actually does live here!

Meet Maxime Qavtaradze, a lowly monk who lives atop the Katskhi Pillar in Georgia, a country located in Eurasia. Qavtaradze is a monk of a Byzantine religious order called the Stylites. At one time in his life, he was an alcoholic as well as a drug dealer, and after he wound up serving a prison sentence, he realized he had to make some serious changes in his life. So when he got out, he began the slow but rewarding process of becoming a Stylite monk.

Qavtaradze believes very strongly that living on high can be taken quite literally – when one lives at a high altitude, he or she is far beyond the “lower” behaviours of humanity and does not have to deal with the day-to-day temptations of living in the world below. Up here, all is quiet and peaceful and he’s able to find much clarity. In a way, he’s closer to God, and it’s much easier to pray.

But living here is not exactly easy! When Qavtaradze first moved up here, he first had to repair the two churches. He turned an old refrigerator into a bed in which he slept for two whole years! That could not have been very comfortable, but perhaps the insulation kept him warm. He now has a small cottage in which he can live, but the commute can be a bit tricky. To access the Katskhi Pillar, he has to climb a 131-foot ladder, and it takes him about 20 minutes! We’ve sure got to hand it to Qavtaradze – that’s sheer dedication!

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