Meteora Travel GuideEdit This The best resource for sights, hotels, restaurants, bars, what to do and see
A good paved road makes access to each of the main monasteries easy and interesting. They may be visited in succession on a single trip (21 km from Kalambaka and back). On the left of the road to the monasteries, at the foot of the Meteora, stands Doupiani hermitage and the 12th century chapel of the Virgin. Nearby are the ruined monasteries of Pantocrator and Doupiani. 3 km from Kalambaka and again on our left is the monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas. Built slightly before 1510 it was decorated in 1527 with beautifully preserved frescoes by the famous hagiographer Theophanes the Cretan. Close by are the ruins of the monastery of Agia Moni, built around 1315. Six km out, the road forks south and northwards. At the turning, on our right we go by the Roussanou monastery, probably built in 1288 and renovated as a monastery in 1545. It contains frescoes of the Cretan School, made in 1560.
Following the southern route, which will eventually take us to the monastery of Agios Stephanos, we first come upon the Agia Trias monastery, built between 1458 and 1476 by the monk Dometius. Situated on a particularly beautiful pinnacle, it is reached by a circular flight of stairs (approximately 140 steps). At the end of the road is the nunnery and Museum of Agios Stephanos. A steep gorge separates the pinnacle from the main cliff; the two rocks are connected by a bridge. Referred to as a hermitage at the beginning of the century, in 1333 Agios Stephanos was visited by Emperor Andronicus the III Paleologus. The head of the saint is preserved in the monastery's cathedral Agios Haralambos. In the old church of Agios Stephanos (1350) one can still admire the beautiful gold-leaved wood carvings, wall paintings and old icons. Back to the crossroads and on the northern route one soon comes upon the monastery of Varlaam by climbing 195 steps. It was built as late as 1517 by the brothers Theophanes and Nectarios, scions of a rich family from Janena, on the site of the old hermitage of the hermit Varlaam. The frescoes in the chapel of All Saints are by the famous hagiographer Franco Catellano, done in 1548; the Narthex in 1566. The chapel of the Three Hierarchs was renovated in 1627. The road stops at the Great Meteoron, the biggest and the most important of the monasteries. In older days ascent to the monastery was made by jointed ladders and by nets of baskets. Today one goes up a flight of 115 steep, irregular stairs cut into the rock face. Thanks to lavish endowments the Great Meteoron became autonomous and acquired many valuable works of art. One should also visit the exquisite church of the Transfiguration with fine frescoes, fascinating to the visitor, and an intricate twelve - sided dome. Of interest too are the monastery's Refectory - today a Museum - and its Library's numerous manuscripts and rare books. When stopping at these isolated monasteries and looking at the Pindus range and the Thessalian plain down below, one understands why the hermits chose this spot in order to serve God and approach him. The earliest religious communities in the valley emerged in the eleventh century, when hermits made their homes in the caves that score many of the rocks. In 1336 they were joined by two monks from Mount Αthos, one of whom – Athanassios – established the first monastery here in 1389. Today, put firmly on the map by appearances in such films as James Bond's For Your Eyes Only, the four most accessible monasteries are essentially museums. Only two, Agia Triada and Αgios Stefanos, continue to function with any real monastic purpose.
Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at: www.egreece.gr
July 05, 2006 change by svetico (4 points)