- by XpatAthens
- Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Meteora is a formation of huge dark colored rocks that constitute a geological phenomenon of unique beauty as well as an important monument of the Orthodox religion. The rocks are virtually ‘suspended’ (the meaning of the Greek word: meteora). Some of them reach 400 m above the plain, and on their peaks there are orthodox monasteries. It is one of the largest complexes of monasteries in Greece, second only to Agion Oros (Mount Athos).
In 1989 the UNESCO included Meteora in its World Heritage List, as a place of special cultural and physical significance.
The word ‘Meteora’ came from Saint Athanasios Meteoritis, founder of the monastery called ‘Metamorfosis tou Sotiros’ (The Transfiguration of Jesus), or else Great Meteoron. St Athanasios Meteoritis gave this name to the ‘large stone’ on which he climbed, for the first time, in 1344.
The first monks arrived there in the 12th century and lived isolated in rock caves. The first monastic communities were founded in the mid 14th century.
In many monasteries you will admire masterpiece hagiographies and you will see treasures, manuscripts, jewels, Gospels and ornaments.
One can reach Meteora from Kalampaka, which is 20 km far from Trikala.
In the past the inhabited monasteries on Meteora were 30, to many of which the access was through rope ladders. Today there are only six monasteries that are inhabited and some smaller ones.
The six monasteries that remain today are:
• The Holy Monastery of St Nicolaos Asmenos or Anapausas. (inhabited by men, built in 1150)
• The Holy Monastery of Rousanos (or Arsanis) (built in 1288)
• The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron (or Metamorfosis tou Sotiros) which was built on the biggest rock called: “Large Stone”. In Great Meteoron the visitor can see St Athanasios’ retreat.
• The Holy Monastery of Varlaam or Agion Panton Monastery (meaning the Monastery of All Saints) that is the second biggest monastery of Meteora. (built in 1350).
• The Holy Monastery of Agia Trias (The Holy Trinity) that was founded by the monk Dometios in 1438.
• The Holy Monastery of St Stephanos (St Stephen) that is inhabited by women.
One can also visit the following monasteries:
• The Holy Monastery of Ipapanti.
• The Holy Monastery of St Nicholaos Badovas, on the site ‘Kofinia’.
• Doupiani, today’s church of Zoodohos Pigi (The Life-giving Source), which was founded by the monk Nilos.
• The Holy Monastery of St Georgios Mandilas.
• The Holy Monastery of the Holy Spirit (or else the Archangels Michael and Gabriel monastery) that is the oldest monastery of Meteora.