While only 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long with a population of around 120 permanent residents, the Isle of Iona is known worldwide and attracts a reported 130,000 visitors every year. It is also remarkable that despite these large number of visitors to the island each year, many report leaving the island with a pervading feeling of peace and restoration.
Known as ‘The Cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland, Iona’s Abbey was founded by St Columba in 563. The Columban community survived several Viking attacks but around 1200 a community of Benedictine monks was founded on the site by Reginald, the self-styled ‘king of the Isles’. The abbey remained an important place of worship and pilgrimage until the Reformation in 1560, after which monastic life came to an end and it largely fell into disuse.
The abbey experienced a short-lived resurgence when Charles I reintroduced bishops to the Scottish Church and made Iona the seat of the Bishop of the Isles. However, by the end of the 17th century bishops had once again been abolished and the abbey continued to decline once more. New life was give to the abbey buildings when the process of restoration was begun in the early 20th century under the Iona Cathedral Trust. This was continued from 1938 by the Iona Community, an ecumenical order who continue the tradition of Iona Abbey as a place worship. The abbey is now cared for by Historic Scotland and can be visited all year.
As well as its famous Abbey, Iona is also home to stunning beaches and offers lots of activities for visitors including golf, fishing, boat trips and walking. It also offers a range of places to eat and shops.
Our Isle of Mull & Iona Tour is perfect for getting a taste of what Iona has to offer as you can spend approximately two hours on the island, visiting Iona Abbey, strolling through its quiet streets with breathtaking views at every turn or simply sitting in the sunshine and enjoy its unique atmosphere.