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Monasteries of Meteora

The ancient papyrus, dating back to the 1st century B.C., mentions only 7 of the most famous structures of the time. But if the list was compiled by contemporaries, it would certainly include Meteora – Greece is proud of its natural attractions, the rocks “floating in the air”. And even more surprising is that on their tops were erected Orthodox monasteries. To see where they are, tourists flock from all over the world.

How Meteora Monasteries Appeared in Greece

View of the Monasteries of Meteora
Meteors in Greece are created on top of huge rocks.

Rock formations of a mixture of sedimentary rocks and sandstone with smooth walls were formed after the evaporation of the waters of the prehistoric sea. Hermits climbed into their grottoes to be alone with God.

Later, the monks thought of permanent dwellings to keep them from descending to “sinful ground,” and began to build hermitages, which later laid the foundation for the monastic community:

  1. Holy Spirit, 950-970, founded by St. Barnabas.
  2. Preobrazhensky, 1020, at the initiative of the Cretan monk Andronicus.
  3. Stagi or Dubiani, 1160, builders unknown.

After the invasion of the Turks and Albanians in the 13th century, monks flocked to Meteora to escape the persecution of infidels. In 1334 they were joined by Athanasius, a clergyman from St. Athos.

During the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, a large monastic community was formed. The construction of permanent structures with outbuildings began.

The most accessible material was chosen – stone.

By the end of the sixteenth century the monks had built 24 temples, chapels, asquires, hermitages, hermitages, pillars, hermitages, and grottoes in which solitary hermits communed with the Almighty. And since 1920 instead of rickety wooden stairs stone ones were installed.

After World War II, temples were quickly rebuilt. Now the complex has become one of the most famous tourist attractions.

The active monasteries of Meteora in Greece

Before the excursion to the sacred sites, it is necessary to prepare suitable clothing. Arms up to the elbows and legs below the knees should be covered. Men should wear pants and women should wear long skirts and cover their heads with a scarf.

The Great Meteor

The more famous name of the temple is Preobrazhensky. To build it on a 619-meter cliff, the monks of the XIII-XIV centuries used the most modern elevators of their time – nets and winches.

In the center of the complex is the main cathedral church, the katholikon, which ends with a vault of 12 faces.

There are niches in the walls where the monks retreated to talk to God. In the middle of the main hall there is a wooden iconostasis covered with gold leaf. Until 1923 all utensils and provisions were lifted by nets and portable wooden ladders. Later, steps were cut into the rocks.

At the very entrance to the Greek monastery stands the hermitage of St. Athanasius, the founder of the monastic community. First tourists examine the ancient structure, then the ossuary and many ancient icons.

The Great Meteor
The Great Meteor is located on a rock 619 m high.

St. Nicholas Monastery

Climbing to the temple of Nicholas of Anapavas is the easiest – the height of the rock is 419 m. But the road to it is the most difficult – it is remote from the other monasteries. The date of the construction is unknown, but chronicles mention that already in the XII-XIII centuries in this area settled monks.

The surface area of the mountain where Meteor is located is small, so they built structures of several levels:

  1. Chapel of St. Anthony, with a small altar of 4 m².
  2. St. Nicholas Cathedral. A small rectangular building, with a flattened dome and no windows. The nave is painted with many faces and divine paintings.
  3. A very small church of St. John the Baptist, which contains the crypt with the relics of the monks, the cells where the flock resides, and the refectory.
St. Nicholas Monastery
The monastery of St. Nicholas has several levels.

St. Barlaam

The monastery was named after the hermit, who took a fancy to the cliff in the XIV century and built a chapel on it. Later it was replaced by a “castle” – with solid solid walls, an observation deck and a bridge. The difference from the other temple complexes is the garden, on the benches of which it is pleasant to relax.

The main attractions are the frescoes. One depicts a grieving monk leaning over the relics of Alexander the Great; the other depicts a painting of the Last Judgment. Tourists are offered a tour of the basement.

Frescoes in the monastery of St. Barlaam.

Holy Trinity Monastery

The temple is located on a rock 400 m high. The exact date when it was founded is unknown. According to some reports, in 1438, others from 1459 to 1476, the founder was a monk Dometius. But mentions of a hermitage in this area date back to 1362.

Features of the central structure:

  • Byzantine style;
  • cross-shaped dome;
  • Many murals on the walls.

Attractions other than rooms with ancient icons and decorations are rails, a hook and wagon used to lift goods. Most of the treasures of the sacristy were looted.

The adventures of tourists begin on the way to the monastery.

They first have to go down the serpentine and then overcome 140 rather steep steps. A bonus is the beautiful views that open up after each turn. The monks themselves use a makeshift ropeway with small cabins.

Holy Trinity Monastery
The Monastery of the Holy Trinity has many wall frescoes.

Rusanu Monastery

This most distant temple from the general complex has another name – St. John the Baptist. Barbarians. There are two roads leading to it. One is over the suspension bridge, the other is the stairs from the town of Kastraki.

It is believed that Meteora was founded by the hieromonks Joasaph and Maxim, but they only renovated in 1545 the building already built in 1388.

The style of the building is Byzantine, and there are many frescoes on the walls. The most valuable are in the narthex.

During the invasion of the Turks, residents of nearby villages hid behind the walls of the monastery. Enemies could not climb the steep cliffs. The monks, like climbers, knew how to use rope ladders. Only by 1897 were wooden bridges erected.

After World War II the church fell into disrepair, and it was closed until the 80s of the twentieth century. And then there was organized cloister of a nunnery.

Rusanu Monastery
Rusanu Monastery is the most remote of the complex.

St. Stephen’s Monastery

The foundation of the temple complex dates back to the XIV century, but in the XII century in a natural cave settled hermit Jeremiah. He was later joined by other monks. They carved their cells into the rock, installed a cistern to collect drinking water, and built a small chapel, which they named in honor of St. John the Baptist. Stephen.

The capital building was erected in 1350, and in 1501 it was restored and the walls were painted with the faces of the Saints. In 1545 the monastery received its independence and began to actively develop. In 1798, a second temple, the kapholikon, was built at Meteora.

Now tourists are invited to visit the temples, the priory, the old monastery refectory, the altar and the stone hearth. The iconostasis of one building is decorated with frescoes and the second with intricate carvings.

To get to the monastery of St. John the Baptist. Stephanas was always much easier than the rest of Meteora. Back in the Middle Ages, the monks built a drawbridge, and now a wide access road leads to it, ending with a capital stone bridge.

When touring the monasteries on your own, it is recommended that you make a plan so that this temple is the last one in one of the days devoted to the tour. There is a hotel on the territory, where travelers can rest.

St. Stephen's Monastery
St. Stephen’s Monastery is equipped with a drawbridge.

Excursions and times to visit Meteors

When planning a visit to the temple complexes, it is necessary to take into account weekends and weekdays. The visitation schedule has not been agreed upon.

Names of monasteries Summer, weekend Winter, weekend
Preobrazhensky Tuesday Tuesday – Wednesday
St. Barlaam Friday Thursday – Friday
St. Trinity Thursday Thursday
Rusanu Wednesday Wednesday
St. Nicholas Friday Friday
St. Stephen Monday Monday

Opening hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

How long does it take to go to Greece to see Meteora

Tourist agencies offering sightseeing tours devote 1 day to the Sacred Sites. But to see them, to feel their history and power, you need to stay in each temple for at least a few hours. Therefore, it is better to come to Greece for a week and without haste to get acquainted with the sights.

How to move between Meteors

The most convenient way to see all the unique monasteries built on the rocks is to rent a car. In this case, it is easier to move between the complexes, which are several kilometers apart.

But you can get to Meteora by train or bus:

  1. From Athens railway station to Kalambaki. But the route is not direct, in Paleofarsalos you have to make a connection.
  2. From Thessaloniki. Change at the same station. By KTEL buses. They run daily, several times a day.

If the purpose of your trip to Greece is to visit the Meteors, you can take a cab at the airport. And book a hotel room for the night in advance.

Infrastructure nearby

The monasteries are near the small towns of Katstraki and Kalambaki (sometimes called Kalampaka). They have a well-developed infrastructure, catering – cafes and restaurants, hotels.

The range of stores is not rich. No entertainment for tourists is not provided. Here stay only for the night, devoting all the time to the tour of the Meteors.

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