Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second in importance only to Mount Athos.
The six monasteries are built on immense natural pillars and hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area. The foundation of Meteora monasteries began around the 11th century. For many centuries, the monks used scaffolds for climbing the rocks and getting supplies.
As years passed, this method was followed by the use of nets with hooks and rope ladders. Sometimes a basket was used, which was pulled up by the monks. Check out a few of these monasteries below;
1. Holy Trinity Monastery
This is an Eastern Orthodox monastery situated in the Peneas Valley northeast of the town of Kalambaka. It is situated at the top of a rocky precipice over 400 meters high and forms part of 24 monasteries that were originally built at Meteora, one of the oldest still existing of the Meteora monasteries. The church was constructed between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites titled Meteora.
2. Great Meteoron Monastery
Precariously balanced on a rocky outcrop, this monastery was founded in the 14th century. This is the biggest and oldest monastery and it was called the monastery which remains suspended in the air because of the cliff formation of a gigantic rock on top of which it was built. The Great Meteoro Monastery was founded in the 14th century by Saint Athanasios the Meteorite. Athanasios is celebrated as the first founder of the monastery and the organizer of the systematic monasticism for the whole region of Meteora. For this reason, the foundation of this monastery is considered to be a turning point, or even better, the beginning of organized monasticism for the region of Meteora.
3. Varlaam Monastery
This is on top of a cliff and it built in the mid 14th century. It features a chapel with frescos and a museum. This is the second biggest monastery of Meteora. Located very close to Great Meteoro Monastery, it was founded by a monk named Varlaam. The monastery eventually was named after Varlaam who manage to climb on the cliff around 1350. A few decades later, and after Varlaam died the cliff was abandoned by the rest of the monks. The 14th-century chapel built by him and dedicated to the “Three Hierarchs” in the following years almost turned into ruins.
4. St. Stephen Monastery
This actually a rock-top monastery with 16th-century and 18th-century churches and a museum accessed via a small bridge.
This is by far the most accessible monastery, where instead of steps you simply cross a small bridge to reach the entrance. It is ideal for visitors with mobility issues who cannot use the steps and yet wish to have a real experience of a Meteora monastery.
5. Rousanou Monastery
This is a monastery that can be considered as a complex with colorful frescos, built on an immense rock formation. It was first established in the 14th century. It received the name probably from the first hermit-monk who settled on the rock during that period. The main
the cathedral was founded at the end of the 16th century and was decorated thirty years later by a monk who lived at the monastery.