The Great Meteoron Monastery
Also known as the Holy Monastery of the Metamorfossis (Transfiguration of Christ), is a male monastery and is the oldest and largest of all the monasteries of Meteora.
The foundation of the Monastery of Great Meteoron is the starting point of the organized life at Meteora. Parched on the most imposing rock, it occupies a commanding position among the monastic complex of Meteora. It’s the largest and most formal of the extant Meteora Monasteries as its name implies.
The Great Meteoron was founded shortly before the middle of the 14th century by Saint Athanasios the Meteorite, who was also its first founder and the first to organize a systematic monastic community. Ioannis-Ioasaph was son of Greek Serbian King of Thessaly and Epirus Symeon Uressis Palaelogos whose seat was Trikala. Symeon Uresis Palaelogos, Ioannis’ father, died in around 1370 and his son succeeded him to the throne.
However the young king infused with the divine love quickly rejected temporal power and the din of the world and exchanged the royal purple for a monk’s habit. He came to the Great Meteoron where he was received as a monk taking the name Ioasaph at the age of 22. Shortly after Athanasios’ death Ioasaph assume his duties in the monastery of Great Meteoron, as successor of his spiritual father. Ioasaph, enlarged and rebuilt the original church erected by Athanasios, transforming into a magnificent edifice.
Athanasios and Ioasaph the inhabitants of Great Meteoron and the builders of the Holy church are ranked among the chorus of saints and are honoured at April 20th.
The Great Meteoron through endless adventures and persecutions during the last six centuries continued uninterruptedly its monastic presence and radiance and kept an important part of its treasures and its priceless national and religious heirlooms. At the sanctum of the catholic there are important frescos of the Macedonian school and the remarkable frescos of the main church and the narthex are believed to be created by Georgie, student of Theophanous the Cretan. At the above Holy Monastery are the chapels of the Mother of God (Virgin Mary of the Meteorite Stone), of Holy Baptist, of Saint Equal Apostles Constantine and Helen and of Saint Nektarios (more modern). The most important buildings are the centre (kitchen), the old age home, the “trapeza”(dining hall) and others.
Probably one of the most interesting parts of the monastery is the sacristy which contain shelves of the skulls of the monks who have lived there over the years. Great Meteoron monastery serves as the main museum for visitors to Meteora.It remains a true bastion of orthodox monasticism, a real bulwark of Christianity and a holy ark of our national and religious tradition.a