In the middle of the Sonoran Desert just outside of Florence, AZ is an unlikely oasis. Founded in 1996, St. Anthony’s Monastery is home to 42 monks.
The grounds boast several chapels of various styles, and the monastery is open to the public for self-guided tours daily.
Photography is encouraged but you are to permitted to photograph the monks without their permission. As most of the monks were busy doing monk stuff, I decided to not bother them in their duties.
The chapels are all open, and contain icons and artifacts from Greece, There is a large olive grove which produces income for the monastery, and a citrus orchard on the periphery. Twisting paths, fountains and gazebos are located throughout.
The mosaic murals are of special interest since I am a mosaic artist. The tour was akin to walking through the Byzantine section of any art museum, but here the artifacts are on display in their natural habitat.
This is a nice day trip if you enjoy sites that are out of the ordinary. Be warned, however, that appropriate “modest” clothing must be worn, loose fitting clothes (no short pants, no sandals without socks, long sleeve shirts for men; long skirts and head scarves, blouses that button up to the neck for women) and any visible piercings must be removed.