Meteora: The UNESCO heritage listed monasteries of Greece


The term “Meteora” in Greek translates to “suspended in the air.” When it comes to the stoned pillars northwest of Kalabaka town in Greece, the term is accurate.

The Meteora monasteries of Greece are one of the most impressive monuments of the country and since 1988, they have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Meteora-Antichassia area is also part of the Natura 2000 network as it is home to some rare species of birds and flowers.

The 24 monasteries of Meteora were built several centuries ago between the 13th and 14th centuries, marking the creation of a significant monastic community.

The monasteries were built with great difficulty and they are considered one of the most sizeable and impressively constructed groups of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in existence, ranking second only to Mount Athos in terms of significance. At present, only six of the monasteries on Meteora are operational, housing a small number of monks or nuns.

The complex is revered not only for its religious and artistic importance, but also for its exceptional architecture and aesthetic appeal. Four of those are presented below.

Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron:

Monastery of Great Meteoron. Photo:

The Great Meteoron, also known as the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ, is the oldest and largest of all the monasteries at Meteora. This male monastery is situated on the most prominent rock of the complex, known as Platys Lithos or Playtlithos. Founded by Saint Athanasios Meteorites, a scholar monk from Mount Athos, around 1340, the monastery features a charming courtyard and a plethora of breathtaking frescoes.

Holy Monastery of Varlaam:

Monastery of Varlaam. Photo:

The Varlaam Monastery takes its name from the first monk to construct a church on the rock, way back in 1350, sadly no other monks joined him. After his passing, the monastery remained abandoned for two centuries until it was re-established by Theophanes and Nektarios Apsarades, two monks from Ioannina, in 1517.

Holy Monastery of Holy Trinity:

Monastery of Holy Trinity. Photo:

The Holy Trinity Monastery is famous for being featured in the James Bond movie For your eyes only, where Roger Moore climbed up the cliff face. It is considered the most dramatic of all the monasteries in Meteora, with a slender rock face that drops steeply. The monastery dates back to 1458 and once housed many treasures, but most were taken by the Germans during World War II. Today, visitors can admire frescoes from the 18th century.

Holy Monastery of Rousanou:

Monastery of Rousanou. Photo:

The Rousanou Monastery, constructed in 1545 by Maximos and Ioasaph of Ioannina, is dedicated to St Barbara, although its namesake is unclear. During World War II, the monastery was ransacked like other monasteries in Meteora. It is accessible via a bridge with steep drops and is currently managed by nuns. The monastery is located between St Nicholas Anapafsas and Varlaam Monastery on the way from Kastraki to Meteora.





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