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Monasteries' History | Meteora | Ascetes on the Rocks

Updated: Apr 28

Author

George Papadellis | SG Head


The ascetic community in Meteora started around the beginning of the 13th century. Around 1360, Athanasios Kinovitis from Mount Athos founded the Great Meteoron Monastery which was very difficult to approach. There was only a long ladder that was pulled up when monks felt to be in danger.

Monasteries in Meteora

Photo by: iStock.com | DanielYordanov


By the end of the 14th century, Turks were pressing the Thessaly plain, making all hermits to end up to Meteora. This led to 20 new Meteora monasteries. The last monastery built was the Varlaam Monastery in the early 16th century. The Meteora monasteries in Greece were bombed and stolen during World War II.

Monasteries of Meteora

Photo by: Takeaway at the English Wikipedia, Greece meteora monasteries, CC BY-SA 3.0


To avoid raids, the access to the Meteora monasteries Greece was deliberately designed to be very difficult. Strong nets and ropes were mainly used to hoist up pilgrims and goods vertically for 300 - 400 metres, alongside the steep cliffs. However, in the 20s there was an improvement of access with steps and bridges, still used and further improved today.

Meteora Monasteries

Photo by: Argiriskaramouzas, Meteora by night, CC BY-SA 4.0


In the sixteenth century, the Meteora monasteries reached the number 24. Today, there are only six still functioning, specifically:


The Great Meteoron

The Monastery of Varlaam

The Monastery of Rousanou

The Monastery of St. Nikolas Anapausas

The Monastery of the Holy Trinity

The Monastery of St. Stephen


Meteora and the monasteries have inspired for James Bond, TinTin, Pokemon, Indiana Jones, Game of Thrones, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Tomb Raider.


Go to Meteora Page

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