6 Awe-inspiring Monasteries in Meteora

Martina Rosado
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St. Nicholas Anapausas Monastery

The oldest of its kind in the world, the St. Nicholas Anapausas Monastery is a 765-year old Christian Orthodox monastery. It is located in the Prefecture of Farsala, in Central Greece. The current name of the monastery (Arapavdis) is a combination of the name of its founder, a rich man (Vassilis Arapavdis) and the beautiful view (Anapausas) that the monastery has over Meteora.

The monastery was founded in the year of 1803 by two monks with permission of the local bishop, St. Spyridon. Its monumental Tholos (Greek: "Round building") was built in 1804, designed by Greek philosopher Georgios Damaskinos.

The monastery has experienced many significant and amazing historical and religious events, such as the Prince Nicolas Orphanotrophus visit of 1831, the financial help of bishop St. Spyridon, and the Orphanotrophus visit of 1847. The monastery suffered under Ottoman rule in 1821. In 1831 the monastery helped the Turks to build the Delphin Palace in Athens. Due to lack of financial support, the Great Fire of 1994 destroyed most of the monastery. An especially bad period during the World War II caused the monastery to become of archaeological interest.

Rousanou Monastery

The monastery of Rousanou is located in Meteora, South East of Greece. Like the other Meteora monasteries, Rousanou was formed of a natural rock formation.

The monastery is made of different level floors that can be accessed by the stairs built on the rock. When you enter the monastery, the first thing you will notice is the impressive open air church. It is one of the only buildings in the region that have walls that was created from the rock itself.

The second level is built with the rock itself. Although there is no ceiling, the light that streams in through the windows creates an air of grace.

The third level of this monastery is the cells that house the monks. These cells were positioned according to their proximity to the open-air church. You can still descend all the way to the bottom floor where there is a small chapel accommodating a few monks.

The fourth floor is the highest level and sits just above the third floor. This is the common area for the monks from the other cloisters of Meteora.

Another structure you will notice in Rousanou is the cliff that divides the monastery in two; one half for monks and the other one a workshop for some monastic crafts.

St. Stephen Monastery

The St. Stephen Monastery, originally known as the “Hospital of St. Stephen”, is located in the village of Kalambaka, in northeastern Greece. The monastery is a place that seeks to live by the ideals of Christ and the early Christian monks who lived there in a place where monasticism thrived.

The monastery is located on a small hilltop in the picturesque Kalambaka, which lies on a mountain ridge between two Grecian highlands. As you travel through the trails and up the rocky paths to the monastery, you are surrounded by achingly beautiful mountain scenery, as well as the blue waters of the Thermaic Gulf to the south.

The monastery is home to a congregation of monks who live by the basic principles of Eastern Orthodox Monasticism.

In ancient times, the area of Meteora Greece was known to the ancient Greeks as "Halkos"; the rock was mentioned in various works such as Plato’s ', ' and Homer’s '.

The oldest of the monasteries, Meteora, was established by Athanasios Diakos on the top of Kalabaka in the 1st century.

Varlaam Monastery

The Cathedral of Varlaam Monastery is an ancient Eastern Orthodox Christian monastery in Meteora Greece. Constructed in the 13th century, it is the main monastery of Meteora. It was built on top of the local cliff and consists of several wings built over each other.

Inside the chapel of Varlaam, there is a Greek inscription and a fresco representing Mary with Jesus, where the monks of Varlaam gather to say their morning prayers before Mass.

The monastery of Varlaam is on the South East of the Albanian Routs, near the Mavorsana Monastery. Another way to reach this monastery is by taking the pharakto bus from Kalabaka town in the direction of Kastra.

When approaching the monastery from the bus, you’ll find the entrance to the cathedral at the beginning of the narthex, through the small narthex entrance.

The cathedral is not a very large one, and the nave is very narrow, with an altar which has an icon of the Virgin Mary, and a relief representation of Mother Mary – and the Baby Jesus – on the apse of the building.

There is a very small museum at Varlaam, in Greek, which you can freely visit.

Great Meteoron Monastery

Great Meteoron Monastery is located in Meteora, Greece. It is the largest and most spectacular monastery in the rock of Meteora with the frescoes of St. Parasceva, the most famous of monastic arts. This monastery was built in the 13th century, only 50 meters from the top of the monasteries 750 meters high spire. The monastery was in fact the highest, most dangerous. Advaced warning of rock fall. This monastery was built by Theodore Metochites, who is currently the Metropolitan of Fener. A monastery without fear. This monastery is truly amazing. The view from inside the monastery is magnificent. You can see all the main buildings of the rock of Meteora below the monastery.

This monastery has been restored using traditional techniques that have been preserved for centuries. This is very impressive and gives an amazing atmosphere. It is worth paying the little bit extra just to see the building techniques used to build this monastery.

The view from the monastery is spectacular. There is a real feeling of getting away from the world and sitting in a garden. This building is without a doubt the most impressive monastery in Meteora.

Nearest from: Northern Greece

Travel Time: 5.5 hours

There are 2 ways to get to Great Meteoron Monastery:

Take a bus from Athens to Kalambaka, Greece. The bus takes 1.5 hours.

Holy Trinity Monastery

Holy Trinity Monastery was completed in the spring of 6th century. It is located high above the Vikos gorge and was used by white men to help discover the noble church. At that time, the monastery was in the clouds and protected by strong walls. The monastery is known as the masterpiece in the geographical and architectural field and for its fine architecture as well as the beauty of its frescoes. From the "Tower of the Epistle", which is the oldest documentary expression of the architectural history of the monastery, we can see that the monastery was built with stone, and the columns that support the church, are in particular of a remarkable style, which is typical of the Byzantine gothic period. The remaining part of the monastery is decorated with extremely colorful and rich frescoes dating back to the 14th century.