Meteora Monasteries

Monastery of Great Meteoron

The Monastery of Great Meteoron is the largest of the monasteries located at Meteora, though in 2015 there were only 3 monks in residence. The Great Meteoro Monastery was founded in the mid-14th century by Saint Athanasios the Meteorite who was the first founder of the monastery and the systematic organizer. For this reason, the foundation of this monastery is considered to be a turning point, or even better, the begi ...
Founded: c. 1350 | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

Varlaam Monastery

The Holy Monastery of Varlaam is the second biggest monastery in Meteora. It is located opposite of the Great Meteoron Monastery and it was founded in the mid-14th century by the exercitant Hosios Varlaam. The elegant monastery Katholikon (main church) was built in the honour of Agioi Pantes in 1541-42, by two brothers from Ioannina, the priest-monks Hosioi Theophanes and Nectarios the Apsarades. The main church was d ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

Roussanou Monastery

The Monastery of Roussanou was founded in the middle of the 16th century. Compared to other rocks where monasteries were built, the one of Roussanou has a lower elevation, which makes it more accessible. The monastery was initially founded by monks and it suffered severe damage during World War II. It became a convent in 1988. The beautiful wall-paintings of the Catholicon were executed in 1560, when the priest-monk Ars ...
Founded: c. 1550 | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

Meteora

Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second in importance only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on immense natural pillars and hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area. It is located near the town of Kalambaka at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios r ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

Holy Trinity Monastery

The Holy Trinity Monastery (also known as Agia Triada) is situated at the top of a rocky precipice over 400 metres high and forms part of 24 monasteries which were originally built at Meteora. The church was constructed between the 14th and 15th centuries and is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites titled Meteora. Holy Trinity was built in 1475–76, though some sources say the construction dates of ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

St. Stephen Monastery

The Monastery of St. Stephen was founded by St. Antoninus Cantacuzene, who is thought to be a son of the Serb ruler Nicephorus II of Epirus, in c. 1400. This monastery rests on the plain rather than on a cliff. It was shelled by the Nazis during World War II who believed it was harboring insurgents and was abandoned. The monastery was given over to nuns in 1961 and they have reconstructed it into a flourishing nun ...
Founded: c. 1400 | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

St. Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery

St. Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery is one of six monasteries built on immense natural pillars and hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area of Meteora. Hermits seem to have first occupied this rock in the early 14th century, as evidenced by remains of frescoes in the Chapel of St. Anthony. The present monastery was founded in 1510 by St. Dionysius, Metropolitan of Larisa, and Nikanoras, priest-monk and exar ...
Founded: 1510 | Location: Kalabaka, Greece

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.