One of the greatest monuments of the world, protected by UNESCO and characterized by it as “A Preserved and Protected Monument of Humanity”, Meteora is the most important (after Aghios Oros) monastic center in Greece. 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.
Many years ago the only way of accessing the monasteries of Meteora was by climbing. Back then this meant that you have to strive for isolation and pursuit of God. Nowadays this is considered to be an alternative activity and the best way to enjoy the uniqueness of the landscape. Furthermore, most visitors take the steps that have been carved in the rocks. It is also breathtaking to walk along the paths hidden behind the massive rocks, which are considered to be created by clysmian substances, rocks and other materials that were carried by a big river which used to be in this area. Constant wind and rain erosion, as well as other geological changes that happened in the course of time, gave to the rocks their present shape.
- Megalou Meteorou: It is located on the highest and longest in extend rock. It was established in 1340 by Aghios Athanassios Meteoritis (1302-1380). It is worth to see the tower (1520), today’s Folklore Museum with old appliances and tools, the ossuary, the church of Metamorfoseos tou Sotiros or Transfiguration of Jesus (the sanctum was built in 1388 and the main church with the narthex in 1545), the Holy Altar (built in 1557 and at present Museum of Church Heirloom) and the kitchener (cook-room of 1557, nowadays Folklore Museum with old copper, clay and wooden kitchen implements).
- Agios Stefanos: Saint Antonios (first half of the 15th century) and Saint Filotheos (in the middle of 16th century) are both honoured as monastery founders. The small Aghios Stefanos church is a single-aisled basilica, built in 1350. Today's Aghios Charalampos church (1798) has athonic arcitecture and is decorated with amazing fretworks. 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, fretworks, 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 16th century and in the beginning of 17th century 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 Aghia Triada was an organized monastery since 1362. The church we see today was constructed around 1476 and it is a small crosslike double-columned church with a dome. Also very interesting is the Monastery Folklore Museum which has 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 Metamorfoseos tou Sotiros or Transfiguration of Jesus was built around 1530 and is of athonic type. Its wall paintings covering the main body of the church and the narthex belong to the Cretan Art School (according to the experts’ opininon, it belongs to Gorgie, student of Theofanis the Cretan). In spite of the church being dedicated to Metamorfosi tou Sotiros, the believers celebrate the memory of Aghia Varvara (4th of December) with similar grandeur and devotion in a nearby chapel.
- Aghios Nikolaos Panausas: The multilevel, graceful and imposing Holy Monastery of Aghios Nikolaos Panausas is located near Kastraki Village, among the ruined monasteries of Prodromou, Aghias Monis and Pantokratoros. 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.
Climbing on the impressive rocks of Meteora.