An Orthodox Easter at the Meteora in Greece
Part of the world might have already finished celebrating Easter – the Catholics and Protestants – but you can still spend or admire an Orthodox Easter at the Meteora in Greece.
Greece is one of the old bastions of the Byzantine Christian Orthodoxy. The Greeks take much pride in their religious identity. The differences between the descendants of the old original Christian Church, the Catholics and the Orthodox, might look small from the outside, but there are certain particularities concerning rite, traditions and customs that are relevant.
However, today is not the time for a lesson in compared religion. Instead, we would like to talk about the Greek Meteora. Literally meaning “middle of the sky”, the Meteora complex comprises a large number of Greek Orthodox monasteries. Mount Athos is the only similar complex to be larger.
The Meteora is made up of six monasteries perched on high rock pillars, built directly on natural sandstone at the heart of Greece, at the edge of the Thessaly Plain. UNESCO have acknowledged Meteora as a world heritage site.
Monks have been living here ever since the 9th century AD. Despite this, the exact date of the establishment of the monasteries is hard to determine. It would appear in the 11th century there was a rudimentary form of monastic organization at the Meteora and at the end of the 12th century, the community had already expanded.
The Monastery of Varlaam, perhaps the most visited of the complex, was established in 1517 by Nectarios and Theophanes. Of the six monasteries here, four are inhabited by men only, while women live in the remaining two. As opposed to Mount Athos, where permission is only granted to women, the Meteoras can be visited by anyone, which makes them some of the most important Greek tourist attractions.
Easter is be celebrated here by the Orthodox rite. If you come to Greece, it is worth choosing to rent a car in Athens to enjoy the capital city of the country as well.