The Monasteries of Meteora, Greece

The monasteries of Meteora in Greece can be considered an unexplicable phenomenon, a mystery of nature because they were all built on huge rocks. Word by word, ‘meteora‘ means ‘hovering in the air’, just like these spectacular monasteries built on cliffs. Their construction originates back to the 11th Century, when monks, because of the unsecure times they were living, had to build such places. During the Turkish occupation it was the monasteries which kept alive the Hellenic culture and traditions and were not only relgious centers but academic and artistic as well. It is believed that were it not for the monasteries, Hellenic culture would have disappeared and modern Greece would be a reflection of the Ottoman empire with little knowledge of its roots and history. The monasteries attracted not only the deeply religious, but the philosophers, poets, painters and the deep thinkers of Greece. Today only six of the monasteries are active.

Nowadays, these monasteries of Meteora are a safe place, with roads and paths, where you can go by car. In order to visit the monasteries, you should be dressed adequately. Do not wear sleeveless cloths or shorts and this is both for men and women. Skirts and shawls are available at the entrance for those who are deemed to be unacceptably dressed.

In order to enter a monastery, you have to pay a small entrance fee (about €2). But if you are Greek, then the entrance is free of charge.There are several towns in the neighbourhood, such as Kalampaka and Kastraki or Zagoria and the Halkidiki peninsula. If you do not have time to do all these, then you can take a bus from Athens, which takes you to the Meteora monasteries. If you want to see the neighbouring parts on foot, then go to the village of Kastraki.

If you have decided to visit the monasteries of Meteora, then try spending a whole day there, you will not regret it because it is worth seeing the play of light on the rocks and their changing moods. At night, the rocks are dramatically illuminated by spotlights while autumnal mists shroud them in an ethereal mysteriousness that must have appealed to the hermits and monks who sought refuge from the things of the world. Explore the paths between the rock towers but be careful because they are not all intact and some scrambling over uneven ground is required. If you want to find more about iconography, volunteers at the Church of the Transfiguration will tell you more about this tradition. Don’t forget to take enough water with you. Prices are very high along the road.

Agia Triada or Holy Trinity Monastery was built in the 15th century. The walls were painted in the 18th century by the brothers Antonios and Nikolaos. To reach it, one has to walk up 140 steps cut into the rock, past the church of Saint John the Baptis with its wall paintings from 1682. It offers the most spectacular view of Kalambaka, Penios River, and the Pindos mountains beyond. Because of the very many steps a visitor has to climb, this is the least visited of all.
Winter Hours: 9:00 – 12:30 and 3:00 – 5:00. Closed on Thursdays
Summer Hours: 9:00 – 5:45. Closed on Thursdays

Agia Triada or Holy Trinity Monastery, Meteora
Agia Triada or Holy Trinity Monastery, Meteora

Varlaam Monastery was founded in 1517 by Theophanis and Nektarios Apsaradas from Ioanina, although the first to establish a monastery here was an ascetic anchorite named Varlaam. There, visitors can find icons, manuscripts and embroidered epitaphois. It is situated near to the Great Meteoron monastery. Its little chapel became a monastery and was expanded in the 16th century.
Winter Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:00 – 5:00. Closed on Thursdays and Fridays
Summer Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:30 – 6:00. Closed on Thursday
Varlaam Monastery, Meteora
Varlaam Monastery, Meteora

Agiou Nikolaou Anapafsa Monastery was founded in the 16th century by Dionysious, the Metropolitan of Larissa and named after an old Patron. The Katholikon is decorated in wall paintings by the renowned Cretan Iconographer Theophanis Bathas-Strelitzas. It is built tall on the rock’s small footpring. In the chappel of St. Anthony the 14th century wall paintings are still visible. Moreover, visitors can also see around this monastery, other deserted ones such as: Prodromos, Agia and Pantokratoras.
Winter Hours: Closed
Summer Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas, Meteora
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas, Meteora

Rossani Monastery was built in the 16th century by two brothers from Epirus who built it on the ruins of an even older church. In order to reach the monastery, then you have to cross a small bridge from another peak. Inside you can see extraordinary wall paintings, wood, iconstasis, panel icons and icon stands.
Open from 9am to 1pm and from 3:30 to 6pm, except Wednesday (closed).
Roussanou Monastery, Meteora
Roussanou Monastery, Meteora

Megalo Meteoro Monastery (Monastery of the Transformation of the Savior) is the most popular of the monasteries and it was constructed on the the highest rock. It was built by Athanasios the Meteorite, one of the most well-known figures in Orthodox monasticism, in the 14th century. The katholikon has a twelve sided dome 24 meters in height with a striking series of frescos by Theophanis which depect the persecution of Christians by the Romans in somewhat gruesome detail. It was dedicated first to “Theotoko” and later to the Transfiguration of Christ. There are 400 steps to the monastery.
Winter Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:00 – 5:00. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Summer Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:30 – 6:00. Closed on Tuesdays
Megalo Meteoro or Metamorphisis Monastery, Meteora
Megalo Meteoro or Metamorphisis Monastery, Meteora

There is also a covenant in Meteora – Agios Stefanos – but, nobody knows when this was built but the present katholikon 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. It can be reached through a road
Winter Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:00 – 5:00. Closed on Mondays
Summer Hours: 9:00 – 1:00 and 3:30 – 6:00. Closed on Mondays
Agios Stefanos Monastery, Meteora
Agios Stefanos Monastery, Meteora

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