The Great Meteoron Monastery
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The Great Meteoron Monastery

The Great Meteoron Monastery is the highest, largest and oldest of the six monasteries of the Meteora. Meteoron was founded in the 14th century by a monk from Mount Athos. This monastery is also known as the Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ.

THE GREAT METEORON MONASTERY

The Great Meteoron Monastery is the highest, largest and oldest of the six monasteries of the Meteora. Meteoron was founded in the 14th century by a monk from Mount Athos. This monastery is also known as the Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ.

The monastery was established around 1340 by St. Athanasios Meteorites, a scholarly monk from Mount Athos. He ascended the highest pinnacle - legend says he was carried up by an eagle - which he named Megalo Meteoro ("Great Place Suspended in the Air"). He first built a small church and home for monks, dedicating both to the Virgin Mary. Later he added a larger church dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ, which became the primary dedication of the monastery.

Image Credit

THE GREAT METEORON MONASTERY – OLDEST IN THE METEORA - Photo by MrSco

Athanasios' successor was Saint Iosaph, a Serbian king formerly known as John Uros who abandoned worldly power to become a monk here in 1373. Over the course of his 40-year life at Great Meteoron, he rebuilt the Church of the Transfiguration  (1387-88) and added monastic building including monks' cells, a hospital, and a cistern. The Patriarch of Constantinople granted the monastery independence in 1415 and its leader was officially designated an abbot in 1482.

Image Credit

A MONK TAKES A SHORT WAY UP - Photo by Gabriel

The Great Meteoron reached its peak in the 16th century, when it received significant imperial and royal donations. The nave and narthex of the Church of the Transfiguration were rebuilt in 1544-45 and the monastic complex was expanded later in the century with a new kitchen, a tower, a home for the aged, a refectory and several chapels. After an earthquake in 1544, the church was repaired and expanded.

Platýs Líthos ("Broad Rock"), the rock on which the Great Meteoron stands, rises over 2,000 feet (615m) above sea level. The original hermitage of St. Athanasios Meteorites, a simple building carved into the rock, can be seen on the left of the staircase leading to the monastery entrance. Inside the monastery, a shady courtyard provides a pleasant place to rest after the ascent.

Image Credit

THE STAIRWAY - Photo by Gabriel

The Church of the Transfiguration consists of the katholikon built by Saint Ioasaph's in 1388 and a nave and narthex added in 1544-45. The katholikon has a Greek-cross-in-square floor plan, with a 12-sided central dome resting on a drum. The icons adorning the iconostasis date back from the 14th to 16th centuries.

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THE MONASTIC BUILDING - Photo by Gabriel

The frescoes of the katholikon date from 1497-98 are well-preserved. They are painted in the Macedonian style and depict Christ Pantocrator, the Virgin Enthroned, the Three Hierarchs, various military saints, the monastery's founders Athanasios and Iosaph, and scenes from the life of Christ.

Image Credit

THE CHURCH OF TRANSFIGURATION - Photo by Gabriel

The nave and narthex frescoes were painted in 1552 by an anonymous artist of the Cretan school. Notable in the nave are depictions of;

Christ Pantocrator; the Transfiguration

The Raising of Lazarus

The Entry into Jerusalem

The Last Supper

The Descent to Hades

The appearances of Christ after the Resurrection

The Assumption of the Virgin

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the monastery's founders Athanasios and Iosaph.

Notable subjects in the narthex include: gruesome martyrdom's of early Christian saints; full-length figures of the founders; John the Baptist; the Baptism of Christ, the First and the Seventh Ecumenical Council; the Last Judgment with violent Punishments of the Damned; and ascetic saints.

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FRESCOES IN THE CHURCH - Photo by Juan Manuel Caicedo

The large refectory (1557) on the north side of the church has a vaulted roof supported on five pillars and an apse decorated with a portrait of the Virgin Mary with the archangels Michael and Gabriel. It houses an excellent museum with wood-carved crosses, rare icons and important religious manuscripts. The impressive home for the aged (1572) has a central dome.

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WINE CELLAR - Photo by travelinknu

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SKULLS OF PAST RESIDENTS OF IN THE SACRISTY - Photo by Mel & John Kots

The adjacent kitchen is still blackened with smoke and contains the original bread oven and soup-hearth. The wine cellar, full of wooden wine barrels and other agricultural supplies is open to all visitors. The church is the sacristy, where skulls and bones of previous residents are neatly stacked on shelves.

From the southeast corner of the monastery, there are fine views to the neighboring pinnacle. This was once home to Ypselotera ("Highest of the Heavens"), the highest of the Meteora monasteries. Founded around 1390, it fell into disuse in the 17th century, perhaps because of the danger involved in accessing it.

Reference:

The Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) of Christ (Great-Meteoron) - Kalampaka.com Meteora: Monasteries – Greece Travel

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/greece/meteora-great-meteoron-monastery

Photos by MrSco, Gabriel, Neil Carey, Juan Manuel Caicedo, travelinknu, Mel & John Kots, Randy Peters.

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Comments (9)

What a marvelous detailed article. Most interesting and full of educational facts. Well done! Out of votes so will promote and thank you.

This is an all new discovery to me Ron. Thank you for sharing such wonderful articles.

Thanks Roberta and Beverly for the usual support, much appreciated.

Awesome looking place.

Thanks Brenda.

An incredible feat of construction and well worth visiting.

Thanks Peter.

GORGEOUS PHOTOS! Great work!

Thanks Lady Sam.

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