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Παρασκευή, 3 Μαΐου 2013

Easter at Meteora

The gigantic complex of over 800 dark rocks is not only one of the most awe-inspiring corners of the planet, but also a very important place for the Orthodox Church. Spirituality and the grandeur of nature converse with each other to give the thousands of visitors flocking from all over the world a lifetime experience.

Most of the 30 monasteries, founded in the 14th century, are now deserted. Only six of them are still open and resonate with religious traditions and the deep godliness of old times.

The monasteries

Megalo Meteoro: It is located on the highest and longest and it was established in 1340 by St Athanassios Meteoritis (1302-1380). Visit the tower (1520), now operating as a Folklore Museum with old appliances and tools, the ossuary, the church of Metamorfoseos tou Sotiros (Transfiguration of Jesus) whose sanctum was built in 1388 and main church and narthex in 1545, the Holy Altar (built in 1557 and at present Museum of Church Heirloom) and the cook-room of 1557, nowadays Folklore Museum with old copper, clay and wooden kitchen utensils.

Agios Stefanos: St Antonios (first half of the 15th century) and St Filotheos (in the middle of 16th century) are both honoured as monastery founders. The small St Stefanos church is a single-aisled basilica, built in 1350. Today's St Charalampos church (1798) is decorated with amazing fretwork. Its imposing Holy Altar has been turned into a modern museum with the most impressive church heirlooms: Scripts, post Byzantine icons, canonicals and fabrics embroidered with gold, fretwork, fine silverware pieces etc.


Varlaam: According to history, it was first inhabited by monk Varlaam in the 14th century. The biggest part of the athonic-type church that was built in 1542, is dedicated to Agious Pantes. The main body of the church has many murals painted by the Theban painter Fragko Katelano in 1542. At the end of the 16th and in the beginning of 17th centuries the most organized bibliographic laboratory of Meteora monasteries and a special gold thread embroidery workshop were functioning here. 


Agia Triada: It is located on a typical imposing and steep rock of Meteora. By the script of the potentate Simeon Ouresi-Paleologou appears that Agia Triada has been a fuctioning monastery since 1362. The church we see today was constructed around 1476 and it is a small cross-like double-columned church with a dome. Also very interesting is the Monastery Folklore Museum boasting a wide selection of old clothing, appliances, tools and other folklore items.


Roussanou: It was built in 1529 on the ruins of older constructions. The church of Metamorfosis tou Sotiros (Transfiguration of Jesus) was built around 1530 and is of athonic architecture. Its wall paintings covering the main body of the church and the narthex belong to the Cretan Art School. In spite of the church being dedicated to Metamorfosi tou Sotiros, the believers celebrate the memory of Agia Varvara (4th of December) with equal grandeur and devotion in a nearby chapel.


Agios Nikolaos Panausas: The multilevel, graceful and imposing Holy Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Panausas is located near Kastraki Village, among the ruined monasteries of Prodromou, Agias Monis andPantokratoros. The organized monastic way of living in this monastery was established during the first decades of the 14th century. The frescos are the oldest signed paintings created by Theofanis the Cretan and carry all the characteristic features of this great angiographer of the Cretan Art School.


The rituals

At Easter, the monasteries at Meteora guarantee you will really feel what these days are all about. Experience the awe and the ecstasy and let humbleness lead you through the mystic atmosphere to purification.

During the Holy Week, the mass starts at 19:00 and finishes around 21:00. At midnight on Easter Saturday when the resurrection is announced, the doors of the monasteries open to welcome those who want to attend the whole of the religious ritual.

Maundy Thursday is unique at the Varlaam monastery for the mass of the Last Supper and the Passions: the 12 gospels tell the story of Jesus Christ’s way to Calvary. In the eerie sounds of the bells ringing mournfully, the believers take part in the divine drama to attain a spiritual and moral elevation themselves.

On Good Friday, the Epitaphs are decorated and the scent of incense and lilac fills the atmosphere. The icons seem to weep in the pale candle light. The devout visitors of the monasteries lean their heads in humbleness and breathe in serenity in the place where time seems to stand still.

On Easter Sunday and the following days too, a traditional custom is definitely worth a visit. It ispaschalogiorta (=Easter festivities) in the town of Kalabaka. The scent of lamb on the spit intoxicates your lungs everywhere, while the Easter-related dishes paspaliáres (= pies made with corn flour and baked in clay pots) and basiordí (=pork preserved in its fat) together with endless quantities of wine double the pleasure of singing and dancing along!

Meteora: The most photogenic spiritual site in Greece

Above the town of Kalambáka, on the north-western edge of the Plain of Thessaly, the visitor encounters a breathtaking site of impressive monasteries “balanced” on massive detached stone pinnacles, 400 metres above the ground. Metéora is one of Christianity’s holiest places as well as a landscape of outstanding natural beauty. Thousands of visitors flock to this place every year, attracted by the daunting size of the rock formations where timelessness and beauty prevail, while they seek spiritual enlightenment far away from the earthly bustle.

The “stone forest” of Meteora is a perfect combination of natural and manmade landscape, practically inducing a sense of the transcendent. Visitors come here either to feel the aura of the contemplative seclusion of monastic life, and admire a truly unique natural landscape or to marvel at the outstanding architecture of the monasteries, the so-called “architecture of awe”.

Metéora is the second largest monastic and pilgrimage area in Greece after Mount Athos. The first monks took refuge on these cliff tops fleeing an invading Turkish army around the 11th century. Several monasteries were built in the centuries that followed and all the building materials had to be winched up in baskets. Until 1920 this was the sole means for getting supplies up to the monasteries. According to numerous historical sources, there were once thirty religious communities but today only six of them remain and can be visited; other smaller monasteries, mostly built during the 14th century, are now deserted.

In the past, monks had to climb steep rocks to reach the monasteries but today you can follow the steps cut into the rock or ride up a special cable car. Action enthusiasts, however, should opt for climbing, the ideal way to get an adrenaline rush and enjoy the uniqueness of the landscape in the most exciting way!

Nature lovers should not miss the opportunity to hike through winding stone paths and gaze at a unique geological phenomenon formed as a result of a chain of erosions and geological changes over a period of 15 million years. In 1988 Metéora was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Whether you are a believer, a spiritual seeker or a cultural traveller, this emotive place will offer you the opportunity to commune with nature, taking you on an unforgettable journey in the most profound sense of the word.


The word “kalabaka” originates from Turkish and means “strong fort”. The ancient city Aiginio, which was called Stagi (a name that the Metropolitan church still carries) during the medieval times, was located at the same place. The modern city has a very good street planning, large squares, wide roads and developed tourism due to its position next to the popular Meteora. It is located 22 km NW of Trikala.

The historic church Koimisis tis Theotokou or Assumption of the Virgin
The only Greek School of Woodcarving
The cave of Theopetras. Human imprints dating back to 45000 B.C. were found here
The scenic village Kastraki, 2 km NW, which connects with Kalabaka under the shadow of the impressive rocks of Meteora. It took its name after a small Byzantine castle, from which only some ruins are preserved. You must visit the church of Panagia Doupiani, with Doupianis cloister which was worship center of the first hermits (11th – 12th century).
Meteora. One of the greatest monuments of the world, protected by UNESCO which has characterized it as “A Preserved and Protected Monument of Humanity”, Meteora is the most important monastic center in Greece (after Aghios Oros). The first ascetics came here in the 11th century. Meteora, however, flourished as a monastic center between the 13th and 14th century as many people who lived in the nearby areas embraced the monastic way of living.
Climbing on the impressive rocks of Meteora.

“Paschalogiorta” Easter celebrations.
Carnival celebrations
The feast of wine during last 10 days of August in Kastraki.
The custom of Aghios Georgios Mantilas, which is revived on Monday after Easter Sunday, the day of the saint's celebration, in Kastraki. The roots of the custom go to the period of Turkish occupation and its difficulty is that people have to climb the steep rock and reach the chapel of the saint which is wedged in a cave.

Useful Phone Numbers
Municipality: 24320-22.346
Police station: 24320-76.100
Health Center: 24320-22.222
Taxi: 24320-22.310

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