Each religion has its own type of Monastery (dubbed Buddhist Monastery, Christian Monastery, and so on). A Monastery of a given religion can be built in a city only when the city has that religion. Other than the type of Missionary they allow, all seven types of Monasteries have the same properties. It is possible to build up to seven different Monasteries in a city if all the religions are present there.
Monasteries become obsolete when the civilization that owns their city has discovered Scientific Method. Obsolescence removes all benefits from a Monastery other than its culture production, and its function of allowing the city to build Missionaries.
A monastery is a building where monks can retreat from the world and concentrate upon the divine. Usually a monastery will have strict rules of conduct to protect its unworldly members from temptation. In some monasteries, the monks are totally silent; in others no visitors are allowed inside. Monasteries usually have many daily rituals and religious services.
Throughout the ages monasteries have often been centers of learning. In remote areas the monks may be the only literate people for miles around. Monks have often been employed as scribes, copying out the words of their religion's sacred scripture. Monasteries frequently have extensive libraries, holding religious, scientific, medical and philosophical texts.
Buddhist monasteries were originally created to provide places for the wandering Buddhist monks to make their annual retreats. Some Buddhist monks stay indoors during the three-month rainy season to avoid damaging new plant growth (and to avoid being stranded during inclement weather). In the past, wealthy supporters donated plots of land where the monks could retreat; over time these have evolved into monasteries, often large and wealthy structures where monks can live year round.
The first recorded Christian monastery was founded by Saint Anthony in Egypt around 300 AD. The idea spread throughout the Christian world, and eventually Christian monasteries could be found across North Africa, the Middle East, Western Asia, and Europe. The Roman Catholic Church has dozens of monastic orders, including the Benedictine, Franciscan, Jesuit, Carmelite, Trappist, Augustinian, and Knights Templar.
For centuries Confucianism was the state religion of China, and the Imperial Court regularly included Confucians in positions of authority and power. Thus, many Confucian monasteries were constructed under Imperial sponsorship.
Hindu monasteries have been constructed across India and Asia. Many were built in remote places, far from the ravages of war and conquest; some survive today virtually untouched by history.
Islam has a great reverence for places of religious learning, no matter what religion. The Koran says, "Did not God check one people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, in which the name of God is commemorated in abundant measure."
Though Judaism does not possess monasteries in the traditional sense, it does have Talmudic Academies, centers of learning where Rabbis discuss and debate the "Talmud," a record of rabbinical writings on Jewish law, ethics and custom. Aside from the Bible, the Talmud is the sole authority on many aspects of Jewish life and religious practice. Based upon earlier Jewish oral tradition, the Talmud was first put to paper in the second century, AD. It has been added to, debated and studied ever since.
Taoists began constructing monasteries during the Tang period, from 600 - 900 BC. They learned the concept of monasticism from the Buddhists, who greatly influenced Taoism during this period.