The Taxi is available for tour destinations, excursions and trips to Meteora and monasteries.

 

One of the most important monuments in the world, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1989, it is a cluster of massive dark pillars, with plenty of fossilized shells, at the north-western edge of the Plain of Thessaly. This masterpiece of nature, has been standing in all its glory for centuries, geological phenomenon unique in beauty and grandeur. It is also the most important monastery complex in Greece, second only to Mount Athos.

Explaining this phenomenon ...

In what is today the geographical region of Thessaly, in the old days there had been a vast lake. According to tradition, a great earthquake broke up the pre-existing mountain range into two separate mountains, Olympus and Kissavos, forming a passage: Tempi. The water poured into the sea and thus Thessaly became a plain. According to the theory of the German geologist Al. Philipson, the rocks of Meteora were created by a large mass of river stones, sand and mud that came together to form a single large cone. Later, as the waters subsided, violent earthquakes, extreme temperatures, torrential rains and strong winds, they all worked together to divide that single huge mass of solid rock into more than a thousand smaller but equally impressive pinnacles, of various shapes and sizes, as well as forming the surrounding area into what we see today.

On the peaks of these imposing rocks, hermit monks first arrived in the 11th century, seeking redemption and fulfilment by means of praying, fasting, and devoting their bodies and souls to God; the ascetic huts on the rocks stand as undeniable proof of their presence. In the 14th century, Saint Athanasios the Meteorite formed the first organized monastic community on the Great Meteoron. The monks and nuns of this community conserved, at their expense, countless icons and paintings, wood carvings and embroidered items, artistic manuscripts, relics and other items of unsurpassed art and craftsmanship and of incalculable religious, national and historical value.

Today, out of the original 24 monasteries, 15 are uninhabited and lie mostly in ruins; only 6 remain more or less intact and, having been restored, they are functioning as regular monasteries:

  • Great Meteoron
  • Varlaam
  • Agias Triadas
  • Agiou Stefanou
  • Rousanou
  • Agiou Nikolaou Anapafsa

HOLY MONASTERIES

On the tallest and biggest rock, lies the Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ, or Great Meteoron. It was founded in the mid-14th century by Athanasios the Meteorite (founder and organizer of the monastic coenobium) on the largest rock named Platis Lithos (Wide Rock). Visitors can admire the monastery tower (1520 AD) with the characteristic balcony with the net, the cellar (now a Folklore Museum with old utensils and tools), and the ossuary in the main church; in its sanctuary, there are frescoes, characteristic of the Macedonian School of religious painting; other frescoes in the nave and the narthex are considered to belong to Tzortzis, a student of Theophanes the Cretan. The most important buildings here are the estia (kitchen), the nursing home, and the trapeza (dining room). In the Holy Monastery of Grand Meteoron there is an extensive collection of manuscripts, icons and holy relics, including manuscripts of great artistic value, golden bulls, patriarchal sigillia and other documents, precious historical documents and rare printed books dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries, portable byzantine icons (14th and 15th centuries), elaborate hand-crafted items: wood carvings, various textiles embroidered in gold, valuable silver works, etc.

Located right across the Great Meteoron, its founder is believed to have been the hermit Varlaam, in the mid-14th century. The church of the Monastery, dedicated to the Solemnity of All Saints, was built by the brothers Theophanes and Nektarios Apsaras from Ioannina (both monks) in 1541-1544. The frescoes in the church are mostly by Frangos Katelanos, from Thebes. The Three Bishops chapel was built on the ruins of the first church built by the hermit Varlaam. Important buildings are the old trapeza (dining room) and the nursing home. There is also a rich and valuable collection of manuscripts, icons and holy relics.

On one of the most impressive rocks, majestic, imposing and steep, lays the Monastery of Agia Triada. It was first organized in 1362, and its church was built between 1456 and 1476. The frescoes in the church were made by brothers Anthony and Nicholas (a priest) in 1741.

In the narthex, there are frescoes dated to 1692. There is also the vaulted chapel of St John the Baptist, carved in the rock, with important frescoes dated back to 1682. The manuscripts found here, are kept in the sacristy of the Monastery of St. Stephen.

It was originally male-inhabited, but nuns settled in it in 1961. The first wall-paintings in its church are dated back to the 16th century. In 1798, when the bishop of Stagon was a Paisios of Kleinovo, coming from Kalambaka, and the abbot was a father Ambrose, the church we see today was built, and it was dedicated to Saint Charalambos, whose skull is kept there – a most sacred and miraculous relic. The frescoes in the church were made by perhaps the most well-known iconographer at the time, Vlassis Tsotsonis. The impressive trapeza (dining room) has been turned into a modern museum, the exhibits being the monastery’s most remarkable relics: manuscripts, byzantine icons, holy vestments and other embroidered textiles, wood carvings, elaborate silver works, etc.

Founded in 1529, it was originally male-inhabited; however, a group of nuns have been living there for some time now. Its frescoes, dating back to 1560, are one of the most important and brilliant sets of post-byzantine time. The ones that cover the entire nave and the narthex are characteristic of the Cretan School and were made by an unknown painter (perhaps by Tzortzis, the best-known student of Theophanes the Cretan). The monastery took its current form in the early 16th century, by brothers Ioasaf and Maxim from Ioannina, both of them monks. The church is dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ; the memory of Saint Barbara (4th December) is also honoured.

The Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas, multi-storey and elegant in a cramped cliff, is the very first monastery we see on our way to the Meteora site, near the village of Kastraki. It was founded in the early to mid-14th century. The frescoes in the church of St. Nicholas is the earliest-dated work signed by Theophanes the Cretan, and bear all the characteristics of the unparalleled art of the great artist: noble and lively features, soft and bright tones, plasticity, excellence in both the design and colouring of the figures.

On the first floor, there is the crypt and the chapel of St. Anthony; on its walls, one can see the remains of 14th century paintings. On the top floor, the old dining room, the trapeza, also with frescoes on its walls, serves as the official reception room; there are also the ossuary and the chapel of St. John the Baptist.

The six monasteries of Meteora have now been restored and conservation work has been completed for most of their frescoes. Every day, countless visitors come from all over the world, to worship, pray and reflect. They get to know the kind of life the monks are living, they get swept away by the breathtaking view, they admire both the art and the architecture, and they study the priceless relics.