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Meteora: Explore the Wondrous Monasteries

Meteora comprises the biggest and most important group of Greek monasteries after those of Mount Athos. The origin of the monasteries can be traced back to the 11th century when the first hermits settled in the area.

A unique phenomenon of cultural heritage, the monasteries form one of Greece’s most important cultural stops.

Perched atop rock cliffs near the Greek town of Kalambaka, the monasteries of Meteora have for years been a popular tourist destination in Greece. Their fascinating history, combined with the incredible views they allow, make them a very worthwhile destination during your visit to Greece.

Most important Meteora monasteries

    •    Great Meteoron
The biggest of the Meteora monasteries, the Great Meteoron was built in the middle of the 14th century and decorated in 1483 and 1552. It was dedicated in honor of the Transfiguration. This old monastery is today converted into a museum.
    •    Varlaam
Second in size to the Great Meteoron, Varlaam was built in honor of the three Bishops. The church takes on the Athonite form with a cross-in-square, dome and choirs. Built in 1541-2, the church was decorated in 1548. Its old refectory is today used as a museum.
    •    Rousanou
This monastery was also built in dedication to the Transfiguration, although it was in honor of Saint Barbara. This is another Athonite type church founded in the mid 16th century but decorated in 1560. The reception halls are located on the ground floor, while the cells and subsidiary rooms are found on the first floor and in the basement.
    •    St. Nicholas Anapausas
This is the first church you will see if you approach Meteora from Kastraki. The church was built in dedication to St. Nicholas and comprises a single, nave structure with a small dome. Built at the beginning of the 16th century, the monastery was decorated in 1527 by Theophanis Strelitzas or Bathas, the Cretan painter.
    •    St. Stephen
This is the most easily accessible monastery which doesn’t require climbing numerous steps to reach. St. Stephen is a small single-nave church built in the mid 16th century and decorated after 1545. The katholikon was erected in honor of St. Charalambos and constructed in the Athonite type in 1798. The old refectory in the convent is today used as a museum.
    •    Holy Trinity
This monastery is the most difficult to access, as visitors have to cross the valley and climb high up the rock before arriving at its entrance. The church was built in the cross-in-square type with a dome based in 2 columns. Built in 1475-76, the church was decorated in 1741 and features a spacious barrel founded in 1689 and decorated in 1692.

For a special experience of the Meteora, plan your visit during the Orthodox Easter. If you are spending your Greek vacation in or around Thessaloniki, you can visit the Meteora monasteries as a day trip. But be sure to prepare your knees for the long hikes up the hundreds of steps leading to the monasteries.