Monastery of Rousanou, Meteora, Greece

April 9, 2015

We recently referenced Kalambaka, Meteora in a previous post. In our Greece/Turkey trip, Kalambaka served as  a logistically good overnight stay after leaving Athens, and en route to Thessaloniki. When we left Kalambaka early morning, there was eerie mist and fog as we drove past the stupendous rock formations, many of which are crowned with monasteries.

Our photo here shows the Monastery of Rousanou.

Roussanou Monastery at Mereora, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Rousanou Monastery at Mereora, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

History of Rousanou Monastery

Rousanou (Ρουσανου) Monastery was founded around 1545 by Maximos and Ioasaph of Ioannina. The reason for the monastery’s name is not known – it is actually dedicated to St. Barbara – but may reflect the name of a hermit who occupied the rock. It soon declined and became subject to Varlaam Monastery by 1614.

The monastery once again fell into disrepair for the two centuries prior to the 1940s, when it was damaged in World War II then plundered by the Germans. It was later repaired by the regional archaeological service and since 1988 it has been occupied by a small community of 13 nuns.

What to See at Rousanou Monastery

Rousanou Monastery stands on a low rock and is easily accessible by a bridge built of wood in 1868 and replaced by more solid material in 1930. Despite this, its situation is still quite dramatic, with the rock dropping off sharply on all sides.

The monastery covers the entire surface of the rock and consists of three levels: the church and cells occupy the ground floor, while the two upper floors house the guest quarters, reception halls, an exhibition room, and more cells.

The frescoes in Rousanou’s Church of the Transfiguration of Christ, which is essentially a smaller version of Varlaam’s church, date from 1560. The narthex is decorated primarily with gruesome scenes of martyrdom, as at other Meteora monasteries. (

The Meteora and Kalambaka

March 5, 2015

Kalambaka is a municipality in the Trikala regional unit, part of Thessaly in Greece. Today the attraction here is the Meteora monasteries which are located in the town. Meteora means “suspended rocks” (Eye Witness Travel Guide) or “things hovering in the air” (Greece, by Facaros & Theodorou); the word is etymologically related to “Meteorite.”

The Meteora has a massive cluster of natural sandstone towers which were used as early as AD 985 as a religious retreat. At least 24 monasteries were funded here; today there are six major Meteora monasteries (Greek Orthodox).

Monastery of Rousanou at Meteora, Greece. Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

Monastery of Rousanou at Meteora, Greece. Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

This group of steep, towering rocks in the center of the Plain of Thessaly is a “unique geological phenomenon”. . .”created by a series of upheavals in the earth’s crust, and the landscape is of unique interest” (Greece: Between Legend and History, p.178).

The town of Kalambaka is situated on the foot of the Meteora peaks.

Kalambaka, Greece. by Mzmona - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Kalambaka, Greece. by Mzmona. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

While these are not biblical locations, they are sites of interest as one is in Greece visiting those places mentioned in connection with Paul’s 2nd and 3rd Journeys in Acts.

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