Thursday, August 16, 2007

Monasteries in Meteora : World Heritage Site

This is the continuation of my last post to Meteora. For quick reference -

“Meteora is an area in Thessaly (Central Greece) and Kalampaka is the city under
the rock towers of Meteora. The thing that makes Meteora so special is the
monasteries on the top of the rock towers. The monasteries, the amound of peaks
to climb and the paths for hiking brings in Meteora the whole year many

The view was absolutely amazing, but the most atomizing was the Monasteries in the top of the mountains, which was built 1000 years back, without the help of modern science, in a typical way. It is beautiful and the painting in the monasteries reveals the orthodox Greek culture, reflects the way they lived throughout ages.

Wikipedia is describing this place as “The Metéora is one of the largest and most important complex of monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos.The monasteries are built on spectacular natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Peneios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. The Metéora is home to six monasteries and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.”

Matt Barrett explained how the Monasteries were built.
The area of Meteora was originally settled by monks who lived in caves within
the rocks during the 11th Century. But as the times became more unsure during an
age of Turkish occupation, brigandry and lawlessness, they climbed higher and
higher up the rock face until they were living on the inaccessable peaks where
they were able to build by bringing material and people up with ladders and
baskets and build the first monasteries. This was also how the monasteries were
reached until the nineteen twenties and now there are roads, pathways and steps
to the top.

List of Monasteries in Metéora (from Wikipedia)
All of these monasteries are located at Metéora in Greece, and most are perched on high cliffs and accessible only by treacherous staircases cut into the rock formations. They were created to serve monks and nuns following the teachings of the Greek Orthodox Church. Much of the architecture of these buildings is Athonite in origin.
The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron – This is the largest of the monasteries located at Metéora. It was erected in the mid-14th century AD and was the subject of restoration and embellishment projects in 1483 and 1552. The building serves as the main museum for tourists.
The Holy Monastery of Varlaam – This is the second largest monastery in the Metéora complex. It was built in 1541 and embellished in 1548. The refectory of the church serves as a museum.
The Holy Monastery of Rousanou - This was founded in the middle of 16th century AD and decorated in 1560.
The Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas - Built in the 16th century AD, this is a small church. It was decorated by the Cretan painter Theophanis Strelitzas, in 1527.
The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen - This small church and convent was built in the 16th century and decorated in 1545. This monastery is more easily reached than many of the others, as it rests on the plain rather than on a cliff.
The Monastery of Holy Trinity - This monastery is very difficult to reach, due to its location, on top of the cliffs. It was built in 1475 and was remodeled many times .

What I found some interesting facts about the dress codes in these monasteries, Women with short dress are not allowed, and also the visiting hours. In some of the monasteries communication is done through rope way. When we came back from the place it was almost night and the visibility in the hill was poor, so better to leave the place well in advance.
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Anonymous said...

WoWWW...Pijush, I am simply amazed at these pics...simply BREATHTAKING...once again it was lovely reading the details....I can give a 6 out of 5 to these shots!

Have a nice Sunday...!

Cuckoo said...

The details were quite good.

I liked the second last picture. The houses on top of the rocks !! Just out of this world and so isolated it looks.

Pijush said...

@Kalyan, What a complement, I am delighted. Thanks for your comment.

@Cuckoo, Thanks for liking the photos, I am happy.

Amrita said...


Sigma said...

Another nice post, with lovely pictures and narration. The first one has come out very very well.
The holy trinity monastery does not look difficult to reach - it looks inaccessible!

Have you ever wondered why the holiest of temples are situated atop such difficult to access place? You have mentioned the reason in this case, but I have always wondered why the oldest and most sacred hindu temples in india needed to build them atop high mountains, since at the time they were built, there would hardly have been any danger to those.

Kusum said...

Good pictures and a good travel summary.

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