“In my opinion, this is the most beautiful monastery…”
As we continued our glide through the wavy hillside of Metèora, our Grecian guide prepared our expectations before our venture into the centuries-old Monastery of Saint Varlaam. What could possibly get more alluring than what we had already seen in this tranquil province?
Discovering that some of the first people who designed this monastery jumped from multiple ladders and were hoisted from the ground in a bucket to enter, I could appreciate my ascent to Varlaam on foot, despite my breathlessness by the time I reached the peak. As Metèora’s monasteries could also be victim to the greed of thieves, these perilous measures used by the monks ensured that their holy haven could remain a secure place. Imagining their eerie ascension as I climbed each safe step, I still remained anxious and eager to witness the place to which these holy men dedicated themselves and even risked their lives for.
Moving the materials to the peak: 22 years.
Building this place from the ground up: 20 days.
As a cheerful breeze met me at the final step, the monastery of smooth brown-shaded stones outlined by auburn accents sat regally against a cool-toned sky. Every step to follow would reveal a reason of our guide’s confident description of this place.
Each corner of the terrace delivered fantasy scenes of the rest of the countryside while you are suspended in the air. Roaming the stony corridors, an abundance of faith casually rested in uniquely intricate artwork too sacred for photos and justified only by one’s own eyes. This monastery also proved it was as resourceful as it was beautiful and secure, housing a 12-ton basin to catch rainwater to fulfill the physical needs of the monks and the structural needs of the monastery.
So without a doubt, I concur– this is the most beautiful monastery for many reasons… but mainly because being in the Middle of this piece of the Sky makes you feel like you have also met the peak of some of the most beautiful things in this world:
Safety and Humility. Creativity and Serenity. Creation and Devotion.