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Few kilometers northwest of the town of Kalabaka, the impressive rocks of Meteora are rising from the plains of Thessaly been one of the most amazing places in Greece. Built in the Byzantine times by monks who thought the placement of the Monasteries on top of the ancient rocks would bring them closer to God! They have formed one of the most important monastic communities of Greece. The Greek word Meteora means “suspended in the air”.
What a sight we left at 4am this morning for a 2 hours trip from Dion where we spent the night to Meteora whose name means suspended in the air to be welcomed by this marvelous sight.
The boys are doing some deltaplane filming, while we climbed the stairs up to the monastery. Now time to be amazed and pray .
Video by Kristina
Today only six monasteries from the original 20 are active with a small number of monks or nuns who reside on Meteora. In 1988, the Meteora monasteries have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and the Meteora-Antichassia area is part of the Natura 2000 network hosting some rare species of birds and flowers.
Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron
The Great Meteoron, also known as the Holy Monastery of the Metamorfossis (Transfiguration of Christ), is a male monastery and is the oldest and largest of all the monasteries of Meteora. It is built on the greatest rock of the complex, the Platys Lithos or Playtlithos. It was founded little before the mid-14th century (around 1340) by a scholar monk of Mount Athos, Saint Athanasios Meteorites.
In my opinion, one of the most interesting parts of the monastery is the sacristy which contain shelves of the skulls of the monks who have lived there over the years. Great Meteoron monastery serves as the main museum for visitors to Meteora.It remains a true bastion of orthodox monasticism, a real bulwark of Christianity and a holy ark of national and religious tradition.
Holy Monastery of Varlaam
The Varlaam Monastery is named after the first monk who built the first church on the rock. This was in 1350 and Varlaan built three churches, a room for himself and a water tank. Unfortunately no other monks joined him, after his death the site was abandoned for 200 years. In 1517 two monks from Ioannina, Theophanes and Nektarios Apsarades , re-founded the monastery. Nowadays the monastery can be reached by a bridge and has a small museum, there are a lot of impressive 16th century paintings .
The Holy Monastery of Rousanou
The monastery is located on the way from Kastraki to Meteora between St. Nicholas Anapafsas and Varlaam monastery. The ascent to the monastery was originally a ladder while now done with the help of two solid bridges, which were built in 1930 and replaced the previous wooden bridge which was built in 1868. The building complex covers the entire plateau on the top of the cliff. The monastery consists of a three-story complex, with the Catholicon and cells on the ground floor and reception areas, other cells and auxiliary rooms in the other two floors. The katholikon that was built in 1545 is a cross-shaped, two-columned, Athos type temple with simple, an almost square space covered with slightly ellipsoidal dome. The paintings of the ledger was made in 1560 and they represent in terms of quality one of the most mature works of painting of the acme of “Cretan School”.
Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas
The beginning of the monastic life on the rock of Anapafsas is placed in the 14th century and the name of the monastery probably due to old founder. In this phase belongs the chapel of St. Anthony, the walls of which still exists the remains of frescoes. The monastery was renovated in the first decade of the 16th century. When Larissa Metropolitan St. Dionysius the Merciful and the Exarch Stagon monk Nikanor, who are the founders of the monastery, erected the present church, which was painted by the famous Cretan painter Theophanes Strelitzas in 1527. From the first decade of the 20th century. The monastery was abandoned and began to decay. In the 1960s, he renovated and restored by the Archaeological Service.
Holy Monastery of St. Stephen
The rock monastery St. Stephen inhabited by monks in the late 12th century. According to information currently cannot be ascertained, the first founder of the monastery in the year 1191/2, into the holy hermit named Jeremiah. The assembly of the building of the monastery which was founded in the 14th century completed in the 15th and 16th century. First founder of the monastery is the monk, later abbot of it Antonios Kantakouzenos. Antonios in the opinion of some researchers was the son of the Serbian Despot of Epirus Nikephoros II (1359) and a descendant of the great Byzantine family. Secondly founder is Monk Philotheos “ex Sklatainas”, which is referred to as the renovator of St. Stephen. In the northwestern part of the yard is the new church, which was built in 1798 and belongs to the type of triconch cruciform church with a spacious plain on the west side and a portico along the northern side of the temple. The surfaces of the walls of the new Catholic who until the 1980s were unadorned now are adorned with works of the famous painter of our time Tsotsonis.
The Holy Trinity Monastery
The most famous! The monastery of the Holy Trinity was made in 1488 by a monk named Dometios. But sources reveal its existence since 1362. The oldest building phase of the monastery is represented by the current church, which was built as we learn from the inscription in the year 1475/6 and is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The frescos of the church was made by the painter and priest named Antonios and his brother Nicholas, in 1741. The Catholic esonarthex was built in 1689 and decorated in 1692. In 1682, with the expenses and trouble of Hieromonk Damaskinou, Jonah and Partheniou, the chapel of St. John the Baptist was built and decorated.
In 1684 a small sacristy was added to the southeast corner of the church which is connected with the temple. The monastery owned 124 manuscripts (kept since 1953 in the Monastery of St. Stephen) including codes of the monasteries of Anapafsas and Rousanou.
Visitors to reach the monastery must cross a pedestrian path downhill until the foot of the cliff and then climb 145 carved steps. Left of the entrance to the monastery is the chapel of St. John the Baptist, a small rotunda is carved into the rock. At the end of the hallway (right) is the catholicon of the monastery. It is a small two-columned cruciform church with a dome and a spacious plain on the west side. Northwest of the building complex of the monastery, behind the church, the visitor arrives at the highest point of the rock, from the balcony you can enjoy a rare view of the other monasteries and the Meteora rocks.
Practical Informations before heading to Meteora.
- Fees : To enter each monastery is 3€ – So save 18€ per person if you want to visit all six monasteries.
- Respect the code – Legs and shoulders covered for women while men must cover their legs too . Know that if you don’t have any lo,g shirt it will be provided for ferre at the entrance of each monastery. .
- Agoraphobic much ?– Then poor souls I advice you to go there only during the off season. The tour buses arrive at 9.30am while the monasteries open a 9.00am
- Mind the weather! – As always when you are up high it can go from sunny to cloudy to rainy in the blink of an eye. So come prepare ( umbrella, kway, shoes).
Did you know ?
- James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only was shot at the Holy Trinity Monastery
- The Linkin Park album Meteora was named after Meteora as a tribute .
- During World War II, the Germans occupied Meteora and burned down some of the precious artifacts. When In Grand Meteora don’t leave without seeing the images of people throwing a Nazi off a cliff
Every monastery has its own schedule and is closed on a different day of the week, except Fridays where two monasteries are closed.
|Monastery||Summer opening hours||Winter opening hours||Closed on|
|St. Stephen||09:00-13:30, 15:30-17:30||9:30-13:00, 15:00-17:00||Mondays|
|St. Nicholas Anapfsas||08:00-16:00||09:00-16:00||Fridays|
On the picture the mean of locomotion used by the monks.. Of course it is a no no for me 😰😱😳😵. Let’s play safe and get the stairway even if it takes longer.
The lift used by the monks
Around the village This afternoon we’re heading to the little rivers around and explore nature.
Kalambaka is a tiny modern settlement close to Meteora. The most fascinating characteristic of the town is the spectacular setting of the precipitous Meteora rocks that border the northern part of the skyline. Kalambaka has a population of about 6,500 inhabitants. It is situated about 207 meters above sea level.
After all this marvelous day out, time to head we are going to sleep : the city of kastraki which means ” small castle “. it stands less than 2km away from the bustling town of Kalambaka, it is very calm and almost family like town feels . Apart from the church in its sleepy central square, and the geology museum that faces it, almost every building here is a hotel, cafe or taverna. But it’s all very laid-back, and the scenery is utterly breathtaking
We were offerred this amazing wine to taste . Seeems to promise some good dancing. Now is it because you drink the wine ?? We’ll never know
Time to say good night as we’re leaving early tomorrow to head back to Mount Olympus and go climb and hike
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