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Friday, December 25, 2009

The Meteora "In the heavens above"

The Metéora (Greek: Μετέωρα, "suspended rocks", "suspended in the air" or "in the heavens above") is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. The nearest town is Kalambaka. The Metéora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List under criteria I, II, IV, V and VII.

In central Greece and particularly in the North Western part of Thessaly, between North East of Hasia and West of Pindos, where the plain of Thessaly ends, gigantic rocks raise, that create a spectacle which might be unique worldwide.

U.N.E.S.C.O has characterized the Holy Meteora as a "monument of Humanity that has to be maintained". They don't belong only to Greece but also to the entire world. The same is valid for the Mount Athos, the Mistra, the Holy Monastery of Saint Lucas etc. So, the monasteries of the Meteora are included in the Monuments of world cultural Heritage, because they are a unique harmonious matching of Byzantine architecture and natural beauty.
In central Greece and particularly in the North Western part of Thessaly, between North East of Hasia and West of Pindos, where the plain of Thessaly ends, gigantic rocks raise, that create a spectacle which might be unique worldwide.

The buildings of the monasteries seem like a continuance and a natural ending of the rocks. Furthermore, because they are a priceless artistic and heirloom treasure. Moreover, the presence of many monasteries in such a small place, as well as the Orthodox spiritual life and exercise have provoked the admiration and the interest of people all over the world. Finally, because the monasteries are conveyors of culture, which "as we know" is not restrained in any country.

One of the most ancient cities of Thessaly. A town, which is called in ancient times, Eginio.

In Byzantine times, during the 9th century Eginio is called Stagi as a site of the episcope Stagon,(it belongs to holy people) as some people explained, (wheat tube) as some others explained, (caves or holes of the rocks) as other people have explained. During the turkish domination the name changed to Kalampaka and took its name from a Byzantine family, Kalampaka family as some people believe or (took its name) from the turkish kale mpak meaning prestigious castle as some others believe. It is a prestigious castle as it is surrounded by the imposing place of Meteora An enormous group of rocks about 30000000 sq. m.

It is a place which is imposed, having a wonderfull view, as spiritual place and cult towards god, since the ancient times till today It's a place full of natural beaty and harmony of such rugged and imposing rocks. On the feet of the rocks there is Kalampaka, a town of 15000 people today.

The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron

This is the largest of the monasteries located at Metéora. It was erected in the mid-14th century AD and was the subject of restoration and embellishment projects in 1483 and 1552. The building serves as the main museum for tourists. The Katholikon (main church), consecrated in honour of the Transfiguration of Jesus was erected in the middle of 14th c. and 1387/88 and decorated in 1483 and 1552.

The Holy Monastery of Varlaam

The Holy Monastery of Varlaam is the second, after the Great Meteoro, big in size monastery. The church, honoured to the three Bishops, is in the Athonite type (cross-in-square with dome and choirs), with spacious esonarthex (lite) surrounted by dome as well. It was built in 1541/42 and decorated in 1548, while the esonarthex was decorated in 1566. The old refectory is used as a museum while North of the Church we can see the parekklesion of the Three (Bishops) built in 1627 and decorated in 1637.

The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen

It is one of the most attainable as we don't have to cope with innumerable stairs to reach it. The small single-nave church of St. Stephen was built in the middle of 16th and decorated in 1545 or a little later. The 'Katholikon', honoured to St. Charalambos, was built in the Athonite type, in 1798. The old refectory of the convent is used as a museum nowadays.

The Monastery of Holy Trinity

The Monastery of Holy Trinity is very difficult to reach. The visitor has to cross the valley and continue high up through the rock before we arrive outside the entrance. The church is in the cross-in-square type with the dome based in two columns, built in 1475-76 and decorated in 1741. The spacious barrel - vaulted esonarthex was founded in 1689 and decorated in 1692. A small skeuophylakeion was added next to the church in 1684.

The Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas

It is the first to meet on our way from Kastraki to Meteora. The 'Katholikon' dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a single - nave church with small dome, built in the beginning of 16th c. It was decorated by the Cretan painter Theophanis Strelitzas or Bathas, in 1527.

The Holy Monastery of Rousanou

It is dedicated to 'The Transfiguration' but honoured to Saint Barbara. The 'Katholikon', in the Athonite type, was founded in the middle of 16th c. and decorated in 1560. Both, the Katholikon and the reception halls are in the ground floor while the 'archontariki', cells and subsidiary rooms are scattered in the basement and the first floor.

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