Meteora, Greece

Meteora - The Sacred Monasteries

There are many unique place on all over the World, but one of them takes the breathe – Meteora – one of the most attractive and memorable places in Greece!

Meteora, Greece Meteora is a surreal place. The word Meteora means "suspended in the air“. It is located in northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly and where the plain of Thessaly ends, gigantic rocks raise. On the tops of these rocks were built a total of 24 monasteries. The rocks, on which monasteries are located, were formed about 30 million years ago. Rock pillars, which number is around 60, are composed of sandstone and conglomerate and stand up to 300 meters /984 feet/ high. Initially there was a sea that constantly washed sand, and finally created these strange formations.

The sea finally receded and allowed the rocks to excel in all their glory. Since the beginning the rocky peaks are considered to be some kind of a magical place. The buildings on the top of these giant rocks are a marvel of man and seem just miraculous.

Originally the area of Meteora was settled by monks who lived in caves within the rocks during the 11th Century.
At the end of the 14th century during the Turkish occupation the hermit monks found the inaccessible rock pillars of Meteora to be an ideal refuge.
24 monasteries were built – six remain today. Of these six, five are inhabited by men, one by women.
Each monastery has fewer than 10 inhabitants.
A View to Kalampaka Village - Meteora, Greece

A legend says that St. Athanasuius – the founder of the first monastery was carried on the top of the rock by eagle an did not scale the rock.
Access to the monasteries was deliberately difficult, provisions and people were delivered by baskets.
During the days when these baskets were the only way to get to the monasteries, a pilgrim asked his monk host if they ever replace the rope. “Of course we do. Whenever it breaks”.
Steps were cut into the rock faces during the 1920s. Now roads connect the monasteries and pathworks and all of them have easy access.

Meteora, Greece Cable Car - Meteora, Greece
Agia Triada/Holy Trinity Monastery - Meteora, Greece Agia Triada or Holy Trinity was founded in 15th century, between 1458 and 1476, by the monk Dometius.

To get to the monastery you will have to walk up 140 steps cut into the rock, past the church of Saint John the Baptis with its wall paintings from 1682. The church contains one of the few portable treasures that survived the 20th century: a Gospel book printed in Venice in 1539, with a silver cover.

Agia Triada suffered in World War II and the German occupation. Virtually all its treasures were looted. Only two monks live here now.
Agios Stefanos  Monastery was the only that was not built high upon the cliffs in the 16th century. During the WWII it was destroyed, as the Nazis were convinced the Monastery was housing insurgents.
At the Holy Convent of Saint Stephen, in the old "trapeza" (dining hall) that has turned into a museum, there is a remarkable and rich collection of manuscripts and icons.
It is not known when the old church was built but the present catholikon dedicated to Saint Haralambos was built in 1798.
The saint's skull which was given to the nuns as a gift from Prince Vladislav of Wallachia is kept here.
Agios Stefanos/ St Stephan Monastery - Meteora, Greece

Varlaam Monastery was founded in 1517 by Theophanis and Nektarios Apsaradas though the first to establish a monastery here was an ascetic anchorite named Varlaam. In 1350 Varlaam climbed to the top of the pinnacle. Here he  established a cell for himself and build three small chapels and a water tank. After his death the site was abandoned.

The monastery collection of treasures is very impressive. An Byzantine iconographer Frangos Katelanos painted frescoes. The monastery also owns over 300 manuscripts. Varlaam Monastery is reached via a bridge from the road.

Varlaam Monastery - Meteora, Greece Varlaam Monastery - Meteora, Greece
The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron - Meteora, Greece The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron is the biggest of the Meterorite monasteries. The height of the rock, where the Monastery was built, is 613 m above the sea level. The monastery catholikon is dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ. It is  a combination of 3 construction stages:

- Initially it was founded around 1340 by St. Athanasios Meteorites, a scholarly monk,  upon the highest rock.

- Later Saint Iosaph, the second founder of the monastery, Saint Iosaph expanded and rebuilt it in 1387-1388.

- In 1544-1545, the magnificent nave and the narthex of the present monastery catholikon were erected.
The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron - Meteora, Greece The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron - Meteora, Greece
The other buildings of the Monastery are:

- Hermitage of the first founder of the monastery;

- Kitchen;

- Old refectory;

- Hospital-home for the aged;

- Museum;

- 3 Chapels: The chapel of Saint John the Baptist, The Saints Constantine and Helen Chapel, The chapel of Virgin Mary and The Saint Nectarius chapel.
The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron - Meteora, Greece
The Kitchen of The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron - Meteora, Greece The Museum of The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron - Meteora, Greece
The Holy Monastery of Rousanou - Meteora, Greece The Holy Monastery of Rousanou was founded by two brothers from Ioanina – Joasaph and Maximos in 1545 and decorated in 1560. The church is small, but very attractive.
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas was built in 16th century by Dionysious, who was metropolitan of Larissa and Nikanoras, priest-monk and exarch of Stagoi.

In 1900 it was abandoned, but later – in 1960 it was renovated. Till 1984 Father Palamas lived there, after which the Monastery was closed.

Now it is open every Summer and one monk lives there.
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas - Meteora, Greece

All Monasteries are included on the  UNESCO World Heritage List. UNESCO has characterized Meteora as a “Monument of Humanity that has to be maintained”.
They don not belong only to Greece but also to the entire world.

Find the full article here

 

Official Website

 

Map of Meteora, Greece

Meteora, Greece

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