Saturday, June 20, 2009

Barlaam Monastery - Greece

Name : Varlaam (Barlaam) Monastery

Location : Meteora, Thessaly, Greece

Legend : Varlaam Monastery, one of the monasteries of the Meteora, is named for the monk who first built a tiny chapel on this rocky promontory in the 14th century.

In the 16th century, two brothers from the monastery at Ioannina enlarged the chapel and founded the monastery. According to legend, they had to drive away the monster who lived in a cave on the summit before they could move in.

Description : Entry to the Varlaam (Barlaam) Monastery is quite easy. Safe, wide steps have been cut into the rock and it's not as far to climb as the steps to the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Meteora. If you're not especially fit, then this is a good monastery to choose. Entry is by ticket; it cost us 2 Euros each at the door.

Women have to wear a skirt and cover bare arms. Trousers and short sleeved T-shirts not allowed. Skirts to below the knee seem to be preferred dress for women, Peasant style. Appropriate dress code for men is long trousers and a long sleeved shirt.

Entry for tourists is restricted to the church, a 2 room museum, and gift shop. The small museum has several historic treasures on display. There is a small collection of hand-written illuminated religious books, a cabinet of beautifully crafted and gold and silver communion goblets, heavily embroidered robes for special occasions, lecterns inlaid with ivory and mother of pearl, plus other religious items.

The adjoining bookshop sells a small selection of books in various common languages, about the history of Meteora, the Byzantine monasteries and the Orthodox faith.

The mountain range to the east and north of Meteora experiences baking heat in summer and severe cold in winter with heavy snowfalls.

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