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The Holy Meteora February 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece Mainland.
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Here’s one way to escape from it all > become a monk in one of the monasteries at Meteora. This one is Agia Triada, or the Holy Trinity.

meteora.jpg  As we drive through the Thessalian plain in central Greece, stark, rugged masses of rock rise before us as far as the eye can see. The clusters of surreal black crags stand guard over the towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki. On their giant pinnacles, disciplined communities of monks and nuns live in isolated monasteries known as the Holy Meteora.

At first, the monks resided in clefts in the rocks, exposed to the vagaries of weather so as to “feel closer to God” but by the end of the 15th century, 24 monasteries had been erected. The monasteries served as a repository for Hellenic culture and a retreat for philosophers, artists, scholars, and writers. Painters covered the walls with frescoes and monks copied ancient manuscripts, carved crosses, and decorated icons. Until the 20th century, when steep steps were cut into the rock, a system of ladders, baskets, ropes, and pulleys over an abyss transported food, building materials, and the monks themselves. Religious faith would be needed, the ropes, the story goes, were only replaced when they frayed and snapped.

Do not look down as you climb the 140 steps to Agia Triada. The Monastery of the Holy Trinity’s lofty perch on a narrow spire is not for the faint of heart but does offer a breathtaking panorama of Kalambaka, the Penios River, and the Pindos Mountains. The steps are cut into the rock, taking the visitor past the circular Church of Saint John the Baptist, with its dome cut into the rock and wall paintings that date from 1682. This is where scenes from the James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only, were shot.

The Roussanou Monastery, also known as Saint Barbara, covers the crest of a slim mountain tower accessed by a pocket-sized bridge. Founded by two monks in 1529 on the ruins of previous structures, it has a wealth of wall paintings, iconostasis a wood screens that divide the sanctuary from the main body of the church, and icons. Donations are thankfully accepted. Abandoned after World War II, it was resettled by 23 nuns.

By the 17th century, the population of monks had fallen to one-third of its size a century earlier. Today, six monasteries remain in the Meteora and are open to visitors. UNESCO named the Holy Meteora Monasteries a World Heritage Site in 1988.

Getting there > Kalambaka is 220 miles northwest of Athens. Visitors stay in the towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki.

By train: From Athens: Larissa Station to Larissa (regional capital of Thessaly), then to Kalambaka (approximately eight hours of travel time).

By car: From Athens: Take the Thessaloniki national highway north to Lamia, then the highway northwest to Kalambaka.

Tel. Monasteries 24320 22649, Admission: 2 euro. Conservative dress required (long skirts for women)
Opening hours:  Holy Trinity – 8 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 3 p.m.–6 p.m., closed Thursdays.
Roussanou > 8 a.m.–1 p.m., 3 p.m.–6 p.m., daily. Hours may change; check by telephone.

Comments

1. æren - February 13, 2007

Aaaahhhhhh!!!! I WANNA SEE THIS AND BE UP THERE 😀 !!!


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