Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Great Meteoron

The Great Meteoron, also known as the Holy Monastery of the Metamorfossis (Transfiguration of the Saviour), is a male monastery  and is the oldest and largest of all the monasteries of Meteora, in Central Greece. It is built on the greatest rock of the complex, the Platys Lithos or Playtlithos. 

The monastery was established in 1340 by Athanassios of Meteora, who gave the name "Meteoron" to the rock, meaning meteor or mid-air, since it was higher than all the other rocks in this area. The name was later established and used for the entire complex of monasteries and rocks of the area. 

Athanassios first built the church of the Virgin Mary, to whom he dedicated the entire monastery. However, he later built another church in honour of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, which became the katholikon of the monastery, after which the monastery was named. 

The church is built in the Athonite style, cruciform with a twelve-sided dome and conchs at the sides. It was decorated with hagiography in 1552, forming one of the most remarkable monuments of post-Byzantine painting. 

The Great Meteoron and all the other monasteries in Meteora still have nets, supported on timbers wedged into crevices, which was the way with which the ascetics ascended the rocks. Later, they were replaced with immensely long hanging ladders which induced fits of vertigo in some climbers. Nevertheless, in 1922 steps were cut out of the rock face, that is the current way of ascending onto the rocks where the monasteries stand proudly. However, the net is still being used for the carriage of food and other necessities of the monastery. 

Moments of the monk's everyday life can be reproduced by the visitors at the area of the Estia, the kitchen, which has been refurnished into an exhibition are with old equipment of the monastery. Also its rich library is one of the most significant libraries that one can find in monasteries . 

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