meteora moni ag nikolaou

meteora moni ag nikolaou

St. Nicholas of Anapafsas’s monastery is located near the village Kastraki. It is the first monastery that one can see climbing from the village to the Holy Meteora.

Its name is probably due to some old founder, who should be dated to the 14th century along with the beginnings of monastic life on this rock. It might have also been named like this, because it offers spiritual rest; ανάπαυση (anapafsi) is the greek word for rest.

The monastery was renovated in the early 16th century, when the Saint’s church was first built. On the second floor, there is located the Catholicon (i.e. the main church) of the monastery, which was decorated in 1527 by the famous Cretan painter Theophanes Strelitzas aka Bathas, who was the founder of the Cretan School of Byzantine iconography.

The rock on which the monastery was built is very small in size and narrow in width of its top. This influenced the construction of the buildings of the monastery, which inevitable grew no more in size. As a consequence, a final solution of successive floors were used and the construction based on 3 storeys.

In 1960 St. Nicholas’s was restored and renovated by the Archaeological Service. Until 1982, a monk named Palamas lived in it. But when he was forced to leave, the monastery closed for 15 years. Priests from Kalambaka used to open it in for tourists during the summer period. It started running again as a coenobium in 1997.

The Catholicon, the church of St. Nicholas, entirely covers the second floor. It consists of a small church, almost square, but irregularly shaped because of the narrowness of the rock. It has a small dome in the center of the roof, which is dark and windowless, as the third floor had to be built over it. Before the church, there lays a narthex, which is more spacious than the nave.

The frescoes of the Catholicon bear all the hallmarks of Theophanes the Cretan’s unparalleled art: kindness, liveliness and bright colors. The paintings that stand out from the others are the Extreme Humility of Christ, Theotokos Praying (Deomene), Jonah emerging from the whale’s mouth, the Liturgy of the Angels and the Second Coming. It seems that it is the first time that Theophanes attempted to make such a great work. So, the frescoes surpasses all expectations leaving speechless even the most demanding art lover. And these are the only ones bearing his signature, whereas those created in other monasteries, particularly on Mount Athos, are unsigned.

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