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Meteora’s Stunning Roussanou Monastery

Meteora’s Stunning Roussanou Monastery

If you’ve spent time in Greece, you have undoubtedly heard of Meteora. If not, let me tell you—Meteora is one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever been to. These giant pillars of rock are unlike anything else on earth, and they are completely unique to Greece.

In the heart of north-central Greece resides one of the most breathtaking monasteries in all of Europe. It is located at 1,027 feet above sea level in cliffs high above the surrounding landscape. But why would you travel halfway across the world to see this gorgeous holy trinity monastery?

Meteora
Photo: Daniel Sim

About Meteora – The Holy Monasteries of Meteora

Meteora is a group of six monasteries built on natural sandstone pillars in central Greece. The famous Meteora monasteries are built on top of sandstone pillars in central Greece. Meteora is located about 9 km southwest of Kalambaka or about 90 km west of Thessaloniki.

It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, and has been described as “one of the most spectacular religious sites in Europe.”

The name Meteora is derived from the Greek words meta (meaning beyond), and oros (mountain). It was also known as “the rocks.”

The monasteries were built between the 14th and 16th centuries to avoid persecution by the Ottoman Turks who controlled much of what is now northern Greece at that time.

Today, you can visit some or all seven active monasteries: Great Meteoron, Agia Triada (Holy Trinity), Varlaam Monastery, Agios Georgios Vrondates, Agias Trias Monastery, Roussanou Monastery, and Megalo Meteoro.

The origins of Meteora Monasteries

Meteora is one of the most important complexes of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Greece. It dates back to 1545 and has a history predating many villages in Greece.

Its original founders were monks looking for a political safe haven during the tumultuous times of the day. They successfully escaped the woes and perils they faced by choosing a prime location to stay huddled up without fear of invasion.

The origins of Meteora’s monasteries are a bit of a mystery. The first monks who lived in these areas were hermit monks and anchorites, who were searching for more isolated places to practice their faith.

However, as more people came to live here, they started building the famous rock-top monasteries of Meteora that you see today—and they created them with great care. In fact, there’s evidence that some of them were built by master builders using ropes and other climbing equipment.

Meteora Monasteries Today

Today, all the monasteries of Meteora remain active. Roussanou is still open for visitors and continues to welcome pilgrims from around the world who come to worship at this significant site.

As one of the largest monasteries in holy Meteora and one of the most important in all of Greece, Roussanou serves as a symbol for both ancient Greek Orthodoxy and modern-day spirituality alike.

About Roussanou Monastery

Roussanou is the most important and beautiful example of Byzantine architecture in Meteora, Greece. This stunning holy monastery features beautiful frescoes and icons that were painted by famous artists.

It was built on top of a steep rock, with its original foundation constructed in 1333 AD by monks that were banished from Constantinople to protect them from Turkish oppression.

The monastery’s name means “of the forest” or “in the forest,” which refers to how it was built inside a forested area.

This great Meteoron monastery is considered one of the most important Christian pilgrimage sites in Europe, as well as being one of the most photographed monasteries in Greece due to its stunning views and beautiful architecture.

Its architectural design features three churches set upon two levels—one level below ground level, and another above ground level—and features a cross shape when viewed from above or below.

Varlaam Abbey Meteora Greece
Photo: Gabriel

For visitors looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Meteora is the perfect place to visit. Any individual who is interested in the rich history of monasteries and how they come into existence will find a trip to Meteora exhilarating and life-changing. The true gem of the complex is by far this holy trinity monastery.

History

This holy trinity monastery is believed to have been named after a monk known for being elusive and introverted, and one has but to lay eyes on the great Meteoron monastery to understand why a hermit would love to reside there.

In order to reach this impressive building, you have to traverse a wooden panel bridge from another peak. Once there you will find it was well worth the effort.

The view alone offers a picture that will be forever etched in your memory. If you arrive early in the morning you may experience slight morning fog that falls over the valley as you heroically stand above it. Once you reach the interior of the building you will be greeted by nuns who now run the Church.

Inside you will find gorgeous wall paintings, wooden iconostasis and icon stand all of which make up the religious items celebrated and worshiped in the complex.

The Roussanou monastery
Photo: Takeaway

Things to do in Meteora, Greece

In addition to the rich history and breathtaking views surrounding the Meteora area, there are also other activities to enjoy during your visit.

Rock climbing is extremely popular in this location due to the unique rocks upon which the monastery was built. Of course, you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy this sport.

Trainers and coaches offer beginner classes for you to get your footing before climbing the tall rock formations.

Land of the Gods
Photo: Danel Solabarrieta

Final Thoughts

Whether you are a world traveler looking for locations rich in history to see in your lifetime, or an avid Orthodox Church member, the holy trinity monastery of Meteora is a location you cannot miss.

And there you have it, a quick peek into one of Greece’s most beautiful places. If you ever have a chance to visit Meteora, don’t miss your chance to see this incredible sight. I know I’ll never forget it.

FAQs

What is the best time of year to visit the Meteora monasteries?

The best time of year to visit the Meteora monasteries is during the spring or autumn months. During these times, the weather is milder and there are fewer crowds.

How many monasteries are there in Meteora?

There are currently six functioning monasteries in Meteora. Of these, four are open to visitors.

Do I need a permit to hike in Meteora?

No, you do not need a permit to hike in Meteora. However, it is recommended that you purchase a map of the area before beginning your hike.

How long does it take to hike between the monasteries?

The time it takes to hike between the monasteries will vary depending on your fitness level and the route you take. However, most hikes can be completed in half a day.

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