A pillar with a view: Monk lives above it all with his books, thoughts, prayers

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Maxime stands by the church on top of the Katskhi Pillar looking at the view Last of the Stylites Maxime Qavtaradze, who lives on top of the Katskhi Pillar in Georgia on June 22, 2013. (Photo by REX USA/Amos Chapple/Rex)

Last of the Stylites

It doesn't have much of a backyard, but oy what a view.

A monk named Maxime Qavtaradze lives atop a 40-meter limestone pillar in the Georgian Caucasus, where he spends his days accompanied by his books, thoughts and prayers.

The Katskhi Pillar is a natural monolith with a long history. Qavtaradze has lived on top of the pillar in a small cottage since 1993, according to the Daily Mail. It wasn't until 1944 that the pillar was ascended for the first time in centuries.

Until the 15th century, the Katskhi Pillar was used by stylites, a group of Christians who sought to avoid temptation by living in isolation.

The first stylite was likely Simeon Stylites the Elder, who ascended a pillar in Syria in the fifth century and remained there for 37 years, the Catholic Encyclopedia explains.

A ruined church atop the pillar has since been rebuilt. The Daily Mail reports that Qavtaradze said he originally slept in an old refrigerator. He now has a bed.

Local residents get Qavtaradze food and supplies using a chain winch. When he wants to come down to meet with followers, he must descend on a 130-foot ladder.

Qavtaradze told a photographer from Rex Features that before he was a monk, he was a prisoner. While incarcerated, he made the decision to change his life.