The Meteora: Saint Nikolas Monastery
The Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas of Anapafsas, founded at the end of the 14th century, is the first Monastery encountered on a drive round the Meteora. There are two possible explanations for its name, the first being that it was attributed by one of the monastery’s benefactors. The other, perhaps the most likely is that `resting` translates into Greek anapafsys, so Saint Nicholas of Anapafsas literally means `Saint Nicholas the one who rests you`. This ties in with the monastery being the first reached by pilgrims bound for the other establishments located higher up.
As my wife and I were staying at the excellent Doupiani Hotel, situated just around a kilometre from the Monastery of Saint Nikolaou, it was easy to beat the crowds. The local four-legged taxi service (above) is always on hand to assist any visitors who don`t fancy climbing steps all the way to the top. The chap on the left was plying his trade when we first visited 25 years ago, but now it looks as though mules have been replaced by horse power.
The space available to the builders of St Nikolas on top of the chosen rock pillar was very limited so the structure was constructed vertically on floors, one level on top of the other. All floors are accessed via an inbuilt staircase. At the entrance of the Monastery lies the Church of St. Anthony and the crypt where the codes and the monastery’s heirlooms were previously stored. The walls are adorned with 14th century, paintings.
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The Catholicon, where St. Nicholas is honoured, is on the second floor and it is elongated and stuck on to the south side of the wall of the monastery. The dome of the church is low and has no windows. The Holy Table rests on the third floor, decorated with murals. The Table, recently restored, is used as a reception area for the visitors. There is even the ossuary, the cells of the monks and the chapel of St. John Prodromos.