Guide to churches in Meteora, Greece
Meteora is the most important monastic community in Greece after Mount Athos in Halkidiki. This natural masterpiece reveals its unique beauty and glory throughout the centuries and captivates every visitor at first sight. The ascetic shacks bear witness to the presence and strong activity of the monks which constitute works of unique value.
The first monasteries were built with extreme care by the hermits during the 14th century and until recently Meteora was home to 24 monasteries that were placed on top of the huge rocks. Accessibility was not easy but the monks counted in nets which allowed to climb up and down or wooden ladders. Today, only six of them operate while the others are uninhabited and deserted. The surviving monasteries are objects of unique cultural interest attracting thousands of visitors every year.
On the western edge of the monastic settlement is the Monastery of Transfiguration of the Savior or Great Meteoron, the oldest and the largest monastery of Meteora, perched on top of an imposing rock. During the 16th century it used to be a spiritual center but today, it is inhabited by three monks. Of unique interest are the beautiful icons and the historical documents.
The Holy Monastery of Varlaam is the second largest monastery of the monastic complex founded in the 16th century. Several steps lead to its entrance from the main road. The active male monastery hosts a great museum and some remarkable frescoes.
The Monastery of Agios Stefanos was founded around the 14th century and is strongly connected to the female monachism. Today, it is inhabited by 28 nuns who are involved in many activities in their daily life. It is home to a small ecclesiastical museum and its idyllic location offers a great view to the plain of Kalambaka.
On top of the cliffs lies the 12th-century Monastery of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity). One hundred and forty-five steps carved on the rock lead the visitors at the entrance after they have crossed a descending path. In the old days, it had the largest number of monks while today there are only 4 monks. It was the setting for the final scenes of the James Bond movie For your eyes only.
On the edge of a steep and precipitous cliff sits the Monastery of Agia Varvara Roussanou, one of the six active monasteries in Meteora complex. The way it was built seems like a natural extension of the rock. It was initially a male monastery and today it is a convent with 13 nuns. It is the least accessible of the monasteries but the idyllic location is quite rewarding.
Close to the monastery of Great Meteoron is the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos, possibly named after its founder. Today it is inhabited by a monk and it can be accessed by several steps carved on the rock. All six monasteries host many treasures that were made throughout the centuries from the monks and nuns. Meteora complex is one of the most important Byzantine monuments, a place of high spirituality.