After St Varlaam’s, we headed over to nearby Grand Meteora (also known as Transfiguration), which is traditionally the ruling monastery of the area. It was founded in 1340 by St Athanasios. His successor, St Ioasaph, is also credited as co-founder of the monastery. St Ioasaph was of the Byzantine and Serbian imperial families and heir to the throne of Thessaly and
St Ioasaph enlarged the monastery and the central church, which was later incorporated as the sanctuary of the church that stands today.
The monastery really flourished, though, in the 16th century, along with the other monasteries of Meteora. The present church was built and frescoed during this period, again by the Cretan school of iconography.
The monastery, like all the monasteries of the region, suffered under the Turks and eventually was abandoned. After World War II, local villagers turned it into a tourist hotel. It was reestablished and flourished again as a monastery under Elder Amilianos, now of Simonopetra on the
Like all the men’s monasteries now in Meteora, there are very few monks -- currently three.
The grounds are quite extensive, with several museums, so they employ pious locals to help them manage the tourists. It is quite impressive.
One of the monks, who spoke English, sat and talked with us for quite awhile, and insisted on giving us copies of all the monastery’s books, which catalog its history and various collections.
The top photo is of the monastery as we walked toward it from the parking area.
The second photo is of the winch and net which is still used to carry up goods.
The third is of the interior of the monastery and the fourth is a view of St Varlaam’s from Grand Meteora.