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Meet Greece's Precariously Placed Monasteries At Meteora

If the first is interested in extreme perched monasteries, take a look no further than the eye-catching Eastern Orthodox UNESCO-listed monasteries of Meteora in Greece. These are some of the largest and many precipitously built complexes of Orthodox monasteries in the world.

There are also impossibly perched monasteries found all across the globe like the Katskhi Pillar monastery (where women are forbidden), and in Asia, there's Fanjingshan- a Chinese monastery that could be the world's most extremely perched Buddhist Temple.

The Greek Orthodox Monasteries Of Meteora

To the Greeks, the monasteries of Meteora are considered second in importance only to Mount Athos (where ladies have been banned in excess of 1,000 years).

Today six from the original twenty-four monasteries remain and are built on immense natural pillars and only hill-like boulders that dominate the area. Only a few monks and nuns continue to keep these age-old monasteries alive.

  • Name: Means “Lofty” “Elevated” “Suspended Within the Air” Where The English Word “Meteor” Derives

Number of Monasteries:

  • Today: 6 Monasteries
  • Originally: 24 Monasteries

The Meteora monasteries are thought a miracle of Greece and rise in the Thessaly plains. Some of these heights reach over 600 meters and therefore are home to probably the most important monastic communities of Greece. Here the tradition of Greek Orthodoxy continues uninterrupted for over 600 years.

UNESCO World Heritage Designation

In a region of just about inaccessible sandstone peaks, monks settled on these 'columns from the sky' in the 1200's onwards. Twenty-four of those monasteries were built, despite incredible difficulties, at the time of the truly amazing revival from the eremetic ideal within the 15th century. Their 16th-century frescoes mark a vital stage in the development of post-Byzantine painting.”

– UNESCO

These monasteries have been UNESCO Listed for impressively meeting criteria I, II, IV, V, and VII. These Byzantine monasteries are the place to find priceless artifacts and wall paintings. These monasteries were looted in World War Two. One can learn all about them in much greater detail on their own dedicated website.

  • Designated: World Heritage Since 1988

Today Meteora may be the largest archaeological site in Greece (as measured through the area that it covers). Since 1995, the area has officially been designated a holy host to Greece.

The Six Active Meteora Monasteries

Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron:

The Great Meteoron (also known as the Holy Monastery of the Metamorfossis (Transfiguration of Christ) is the largest of all the monasteries of Meteora. It is also the oldest as well as monk (male) only.

  • Oldest: The Oldest Monastery Here Founded Around 1340
  • Monk: It's a Male Only Monastery

It is built on the largest rock of the complex and was founded around 1340. It's possible to enjoy its stunning frescoes and breathtaking vistas.

Holy Monastery of Varlaam:

This Varlaam Monastery is another from the eye-catching monasteries and it is named after its first monk. Varlaam built three churches in addition to a room for himself having a water tank.

After he died the website was abandoned for Two centuries until it was re-founded in 1517 by two monks called Theophanes and Nektarios Apsarades. It's possible to reach it now with a bridge and see its small museum.

Holy Monastery of Rousanou:

The Holy Monastery of Rousanou was built by Maximos and Ioasaph of Ioannina in 1545. One can also reach this monastery by a bridge and admire its breathtaking backdrops. It's among the monasteries in Greece that is run today by nuns.

  • Nuns: The Rousanou Monastery Is Run By Nuns

Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas:

Founded in the 1300s, the St. Nicholas Anapafsas Monastery has its share of mysteries – for example who it is named after (nobody really knows). It's renowned for its frescoes – including the passion of Christ and also the Virgin Mary praying.

It was abandoned between 1900 and also the 1960s once the Greek government stepped in and repaired the decaying monastery.

Holy Monastery of St. Stephen:

St. Stephen monastery may be the easiest from the six monasteries to visit and the nearest Kalabaka – the closest town to the monasteries. World War Two and also the ensuing Greek civil war saw extensive harm to the 15th-century monastery. However it was later repaired. It's also run by Nuns.

  • Nuns: Nuns Inhabit The Monastery of St. Stephen

Holy Monastery of Holy Trinity:

The monastery from the Holy Trinity was built-in 1458 and when held many treasures – but many of those were later looted through the Germans in WW2. For the 007 fans out there, this monastery might be familiar as it starred in the 1981 movie 'For your eyes only' when Roger Moore scales the cliff face.

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