Meteora is just a unique and an out of this world place! Simply as that!

The stunning and unique rocks of Meteora, which embrace Kalambaka, are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and it is the largest monastic city in Greece after Mount Athos!

It’s located about 25 km from the city of Trikala, in Central Greece.  According to geologists these ”weird” tectonic formations were created 30 million years ago when the sea which covered the area, began to decline. The way that these rocks stand for thousands year creates a magical landscape. This was the reason that led the monks to find the “right” isolated place for their monasteries.

Meteora_Stephen McLeod Blythe

(slider and featured photo by Vasilis Karamouzos and above photo by Stephen McLeod Blythe)

 

Originally, there were over 20 monasteries in the Meteora area, but today, from the numerous monasteries of Meteora are operated only six, which are: St. Nicholas Anapafsa,  Megalo Meteoro, Varlaam, Roussanos, Agia Triada and Agios Stefanos.

Megalo Meteoro or Metamorphisis: This the largest and oldest monastery is the Meteora. Located literally on top of a huge rock which is connected with a small strip of land on where you park your car. The monastery is like a real fortress! The entrance is through a small portico opened in the solid rock. Inside the monastery you can start your visit to the chapel observing some very old paintings and pictures. Also, continue to the museum where you will see artefacts from the battles of the Greeks from the revolution of 1821 AC, like uniforms, weapons, manuscripts and prints. It’s needless to say the amazing view that this monastery offers.

Varlaam Monastery: It is located just below Megalo Meteoro one is less crowded. So, take a look to the beautiful chapel with frescoes (like the one by the well-known post Byzantine iconographer Frangos Katelanos) and rare images and the huge wooden barrel of 120.00 litres where the monks used to store their wine! I cannot imagine who was drinking so much wine!!

Agia Triada (Holy Trinity): It  was built in the 17th century by two brothers of the Venetian Zangaroli family on the site of a pre-existing church and it was used for the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only! The monastery It is decorated with wall paintings from the 18th century by the brothers Antonios and Nikolaos. Until 1925 the entrance to the monastery was only possible by rope ladders and nets! Only in 1925 the monks built a staircase of 140 steps, which is carved in the rock!

Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas was built 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. This monastery is open every day from 9am to 6 pm.

Roussanou Monastery: It was founded in 1545 by Joasaph and Maximos, two brothers from Epirus who built it on the ruins of an older church. In 1988 the monastery was converted to a convent. Nowadays, you you can get into the monastery with a small bridge, but in the past monks either climbed or used rope ladders and nets, exactly like the monks from the Monastery of Holy Trinity.

Agios Stefanos (Saint Stephen):. It is not known when the old church was built but the katholikon dedicated to Saint Haralambos was built in 1798. Apart from the katholikon, the monastery has an small museum, a kitchen, a guest house, a library and workspaces for painting, decoration and other artistic endeavours.

Varlaam-and-Rousanou-Monasteries

(Varlaam and Rousanou Monasteries, Meteora, by Paul Stephenson)

The nearby town of Kalambaka is organized with decent hotels, rooms and camping and it’s an ideal base for walks in the village of Aspropotamos and also Doupiani is the most famous climbing area!

Tip: Even if the whole year Meteora is an amazing destination, probably the Easter is a perfect time to visit due to mystic atmosphere in the Meteora monasteries.

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