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A rare geological phenomenon, a quirk of nature as it were, created these looming rocks which thrust skywards from the plain of Thessaly, as if striving to come closer to God. These peculiarly impressive natural sculptures are known as Meteora because they do indeed seem to hang or hover above the plain. Their summits, totally isolated from the rest of the world, were a refuge for many hermits from as early as the 11th century. Three hundred years later the first monasteries were founded. Most of the monasteries were built or renovated in the 16th century.

Nowadays six are in use. In older days one reached the inaccessible peaks in a basket drawn up by the monks operating a windlass. Today a good road leads from Kalambaka to the monasteries with their wonderful wall paintings, ecclesiastical treasures, rich libraries with precious manuscripts, exquisite icons.

THE MONASTERIES OF METEORA

  • GREAT METEORON: It is the biggest of the Meteorite monasteries. The church Katholikon honoured to the 'Transfiguration' was erected in the middle of 14th c. (1387/88) and decorated in 1483 and 1552. The old monastery is used as a museum, nowadays. Open: 9:00-13:00 and 15:00-18:00, closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • ROUSANOU: It is dedicated to 'The Transfiguration' but honoured to Saint Barbara. The 'Katholikon, in the Athonite type, was founded in the middle of 16th c. and decorated in 1560. Both, the Katholikon and the reception halls are in the ground floor while the 'archontariki', cells and subsidiary rooms are scattered in the basement and the first floor. Open: 9:00-13:00 and 15:30-18:00, closed on Wednesdays.
  • HOLY TRINITY: Is very difficult to reach. The visitor has to cross the valley and continue high up through the rock before we arrive outside the entrance. The church is in the cross-in-square type with the dome based in two columns, built in 1475-76 and decorated in 1741. The spacious barrel - vaulted esonarthex was founded in 1689 and decorated in 1692. A small skeuophylakeion was added next to the church in 1684. Open: 9:00-13:00 every day except Thursday.
  • VARLAAM: Is the second, after the Great Meteoro, big in size monastery. The church, honoured to the three Bishops, is in the Athonite type (cross-in-square with dome and choirs), with spacious esonarthex surrounted by dome as well. It was built in 1541/42 and decorated in 1548, while the esonarthex was decorated in 1566. The old refectory is used as a museum while at the North of the Church we can see the parekklesion of the Three (Bishops) built in 1627 and decorated in 1637. Open: 9:00-13:00 and 15:30-18:00, closed on Fridays.
  • SAINT NICHOLAS ANAPAUSAS: It is the first to meet on our way from Kastraki to Meteora. The 'Katholikon', dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a single - nave church with small dome, built in the beginning of 16th c. It was decorated by the Cretan painter Theophanis Strelitzas or Bathas, in 1527. Open: everyday 9:00-18:00.
  • SAINT STEPHEN: It is one of the most attainable as we don't have to cope with innumerable stairs to reach it. The small single-nave church of St. Stephen was built in the middle of 16th and decorated in 1545 or a little later. The 'Katholikon, ,honoured to St. Charalambos, was built in the Athonite type, in 1798. The old refectory of the convent is used as a museum nowadays. Open: everyday 9:00-13:00 and 15:00-17:00.

The movie FOR YOUR EYES ONLY with James Bond was filmed there...

USEFUL INFORMATION

Kastraki, Kalampaka (Prefecture of Trikala)
Telephone: +30 24320 22649, +30 24320 22277, +30 24320 22220
Ticket: €2 to enter each of the monasteries.
Proper attire is required. Women must wear skirts below the knees (in some monasteries, though, these are provided for women in shorts or slacks. Men's arms must be covered and they must wear long pants.
Open: From the 1st of November until the 31 of March 2010: 8:30-15:00

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Varlaam Monastery

 

The Great Meteoron

 

Monastery of Rousanou