Varlaam Monastery (Meteora)
The Varlaam Monastery or Barlaam Monastery in Meteora is one of four active male monasteries in the Meteora monastery complex in Greece. It is the second largest monastery in the monastic community.
The monastery was founded in 1517 by Theophanis and Nektarios Apsaradas on the site of an earlier monastery that was established by an ascetic anchorite named Varlaam. In 1350, Varlaam climbed to the top of the pinnacle where he established a cell for himself and build three small chapels and a water tank. After his death the site was abandoned as he was a solitary.
The hieromonks Theophanis and Nektarios Apsaradas, who were from Ioannina, re-occupied the monastery site two hundred years later. They renovated Varlaam's small chapel, the Parekklesion of the Three dedicated to the Three Bishops (St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom). Additional renovation was done in 1627 and frescos were painted in 1637.
Over a period of twenty-two years using a tower and a rope and pulley system with a basket they hoisted the materials needed for construction of their monastery. After all the materials were in place, they built the main monastery church, the katholikon dedicated to All Saints, in twenty days.
The monastery was occupied continuously throughout the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth after which it began to decline. It was only in early nineteenth century that steps were first cut in the rock to get the top of the pinnacle.
The katholikon is of the Athonite style of a cross-in-square topped with a dome in each section and was built in 1541/1542. The tower with its old windlass and basket, that dates from 1536, has been used as recently as 1961 to 1963 to support renovations when the refectory was modified as the museum.
In 1548, the frescos in the main church were painted by the iconographer Frangos Katelanos of Thebes. The frescos in the narthex were painted in 1566 by George and Frangos, brothers from Thebes. The monastery also possesses a collection of artifacts including relics, carved wooden crosses, icons, embroidered epitaphia, and other ecclesiastical items. These are displayed in the monastery museum.
The monastery also possesses over 300 manuscripts.