Meteora Monasteries

This morning I took a drive around the six Meteora Monasteries. I got photos of all six but only entered three of them. Amazing places, built as they are on the top of these tall rocks. Particularly interesting is that all of these rocks were once under sea-level.

Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas

This was the first monastery on my drive, but I only stopped to take a couple of photos from the roadside. Its foundation dates back to the middle of the 14th century.

Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas
Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas
Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas
Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas

 

Monastery of Roussanou

Roussanou was a bit of a drive-by as the parking area was full, but I was able to get photos of it from different vantage points. It started life as a male monastery but subsequently became a nunnery. It dates back to the 14th-15th centuries.

Monastery of Roussanou
Monastery of Roussanou
Monastery of Roussanou
Monastery of Roussanou

Monastery of Varlaam

The third monastery, and my first paid entry, was to the Monastery of Varlaam, named after the hermit who built it in the middle of the 14th century. This is the second-largest of the six monasteries. The admission fee was a reasonable 3 Euros and there were a few steps to climb to access the monastery.

Monastery of Varlaam with the access stairway visible in the lower left of the photo
Monastery of Varlaam with the access stairway visible in the lower left of the photo
Monastery of Varlaam
Monastery of Varlaam
Monastery of Varlaam
Monastery of Varlaam
Monastery of Varlaam - on the left side of the photo you can see the small bridge that has to be crossed to access the monastery
Monastery of Varlaam – on the left side of the photo you can see the small bridge that has to be crossed to access the monastery
A close up photo that shows the bridge that crosses to the monastery
A close up photo that shows the bridge that crosses to the monastery
A small chapel inside the Varlaam Monastery
A small chapel inside the Varlaam Monastery
Inside Varlaam Monastery
Inside Varlaam Monastery

The churches inside each of the monasteries have beautifully painted frescoes on the walls and ceilings but photos and videos are prohibited in the churches (although I saw a lot of people sneaking photos).

 

Monastery of Megalo Meteoro (or Metamorphosis)

My next visit was to Megalo Meteoro which is located ‘next door’ and a bit higher than Varlaam. It is the largest of the monasteries and was also founded in the 14th century. A number of the rooms in the monastery now serve as museums, including a collection of religious manuscripts and icons. However, photos are not permitted in any of those rooms.

Monastery of Megalo Meteoro
Monastery of Megalo Meteoro
Monastery of Megalo Meteoro
Monastery of Megalo Meteoro
Monastery of Megalo Meteoro
Monastery of Megalo Meteoro
A small ossuary inside the Monastery of Megalo Meteoro
A small ossuary inside the Monastery of Megalo Meteoro
View from the monastery
View from the monastery
Here's a photo with me in it - I don't have many!
Here’s a photo with me in it – I don’t have many!

Monastery of the Holy Trinity

The monastery at this site dates back to 1362. It’s quite an impressive sight to see this monastery perched on top the the tall narrow rock.

Monastery of the Holy Trinity
Monastery of the Holy Trinity
Monastery of the Holy Trinity
Monastery of the Holy Trinity
At bottom centre you can see the footpath that leads to a small tunnel to access the monastery
At bottom centre you can see the footpath that leads to a small tunnel to access the monastery
The footpath above the small tunnel to access the monastery.
The footpath above the small tunnel to access the monastery.

 

Monastery of St. Stephen

The final monastery just got a brief stop from me so that I could take a couple of photos. This one dates back to the 15th century.

Monastery of St. Stephen
Monastery of St. Stephen
Monastery of St. Stephen
Monastery of St. Stephen

 

I’ve enjoyed visiting these monasteries and rock structures. It was definitely worth making the detour to include them into the route. Now I have to study the map and decide which way I will go to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) – there is still a dispute involving the Greek region of Macedonia over the Republic taking on the name Macedonia. The plan is to get to FYROM tomorrow and to visit two or three towns there. The initial route from Thessaloniki to Skopje would have been a simple one. Now I have to decide whether to back-track to stay on major roads or whether to take a more direct route on minor roads.

 

4 Comments

  1. Very impressive photos. Wasn’t one these monasteries filmed in the James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only”? They are truly dramatic structures.

  2. You’re right, Joe. It was the Monastery of the Holy Trinity. Apparently the rocks have inspired or been featured in other films, books, games and music (see below):

    The monastery of Holy Trinity was a filming location in the 1981 James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only[18]
    Scenes from Tintin and the Golden Fleece were also shot at the Meteora monasteries.
    The rock area was a primary inspiration behind the Linkin Park album of the same name.
    Michina, the main setting of the movie Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life is based on Meteora.
    Meteora is the main location in the fiction book The Spook’s Sacrifice, by Lancashire author Joseph Delaney
    The Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas was an inspiration for St. Francis Folly in the computer game Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider: Anniversary.[citation needed]
    One of the surviving characters in “Max Brooks”‘s zombie apocalypse novel, “World War Z” finds refuge and peace of mind in the monasteries during and after the zombie war.
    The 2012 movie Metéora directed by Spiros Stathoulopoulos is set in the monasteries and scenery of Meteora
    Primary location and name of Volume 3 in the comic book series “Le Décalogue” by French author Frank Giroud.
    The Eyrie of Vale of the House of Arryn from Game of Thrones is based on Meteora

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