Varlaam Monastery – Sitting on Top of a Rock Pillar While Being Beautiful
Varlaam Monastery was the first monastery we’ve seen when the driver dropped us off at the parking lot in Meteora. Though the parking space was just opposite the Great Monastery of Meteoron, Varlaam demanded our attention first. And why not? She sits on top of a rock pillar while being spectacularly gorgeous! Wait until the first rays of the sun and see what a beauty she is!
Looking up and down Varlaam Monastery, you will really wonder, how on earth it was built? And how many years it took the monk, Hosios Varlaam, to finish this? Oh, imagine that it was the 14th century and all he had must be primitive tools only! Don’t even mention the stressful climb to the top with such height!
Today, we’re so lucky that we don’t have to climb as the monk did. The monastery is connected with a bridge, and it even has a small parking space on its own. Looking up from below, scaling the rock pillar to the top seems impossible, but I guess, men of God, like Hosios Varlaam, must have strength as indefatigable as his faith.
Note: You might be wondering why all the photos of Varlaam here are taken outside. That is because Varlaam Monastery is closed on Fridays.
Varlaam Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the second largest monastery in Meteora and one of the 6 monasteries (out of 20) that are open for visitation.
From where it stands/sits, the views are as grand as the one you see from The Great Monastery of Meteoron.
Remember, there is no elevator here. In order to make it easier for people to climb to the monastery, they cut up 195 steps (or 160 steps – depending on who you ask or counted) all the way to the top. It can be a challenge.
Both men and women are asked to cover up whatever flesh they expose. Women are obliged to wear long skirts and men have to don long pants. But, don’t worry, the monastery can loan you something to wrap around your waist.
Inside, a glimpse of history is on cards. The museum in the monastery is home to hidden treasures, relics, and carved wooden crosses.
The museum in the monastery is home to hidden treasures, relics, and carved wooden crosses.
The Byzantine frescoes will dazzle your eyes as your mind travels back to centuries ago.
It is so fascinating for me how monks led an ascetic life on top of a rock pillar.
Before you go, step out into the garden – and you might be lucky to meet a monk who is willing to open up a conversation with you.
HOTELS IN METEORA
While it is possible to see Meteora in one day, I’d still recommend a night stay here. Especially if you’re taking sightseeing slowly. Stay in Kalabaka town where you can find a few hotels and guesthouses. Some of these hotels have tour buses which take you to all monasteries. These two accommodations are a good start: Dellas Boutique Hotel and Hotel Doupiani House.
Is Meteora possible in one day? Yes, it is. See our one day itinerary here.