Monastery of Varlaam
The Monastery of Varlaam was inhabited by the hermit Varlaam in 1350. It was founded in 1518 when the brothers Ss Theophanes and Nektarios, known as Apsarades, coming from Ioannina, settled there.
Since 1350, the ascent to the monastery was made by wooden ladders, each of which had about 25 rungs. The ladders were hanging from the rock with the help of pegs on the north side of the church and a gap was created between them. The monks often had to jump from one ladder to another risking even their own lives. This difficulty was due to the peculiarity and the morphology of the rocks. There were about 4 or 5 ladders consisting of 95 rungs at maximum. In 1517/1518, the founders who built the tower of the monastery reached the rock. Then, the monks and materials were hoisted by hand in a rope net. From the early part of the 19th century, they created steps carved in the rock with a bridge between them, which have been altered a lot of times. Nowadays, objects are hoisted electrically.
In the time of the Holy founders, and during the 16th century about 35 monks lived in the monastery. From the 17th century onwards the decline starts and it lasts up to 1961. Today the monastic community consists of 7 monks.
The magnificent Katholikon of the monastery that is dedicated to All Saints, is a typical elegant katholikon in the Athonite type. It is the simplest type of church regarding the ground plan. It belongs to the inscribed-cross tetrastyle type with 2 domes: one in the narthex (or lite) on the west of the church and the other in the nave on the east and there are two conches (for the chanters) on the right and left side.
There is a rich and important collection of about 300 manuscripts. Some of them are exhibited in the sacristy of the monastery and the others are in special places for preservation and protection.
Οther important buildings are the old refectory, the kitchen, one of the most elegant and beautiful buildings of its kind, a vaulted construction covered by an octagonal little dome that terminates in a chimney and the hospital. Finally, the chapel of Three Hierarchs is a small aisleless church with very beautiful frescoes and it was built in 1627.
In the sacristy of the monastery many other ecclesiastical relics such as post-byzantine portable icons, embroidered with gold epitaphios and sacerdotal vestments, various kinds of miniatures and silverware are also exhibited. Among the portable icons, the icon of the Virgin and Child painted in 1668 by the famous Cretan painter Emmanuel Tzane is of great artistic value. The impressive embroidered with gold epitaphios made in 1609 has also special importance apart from its artistic value.
Summer opening hours (01/04 – 31/10): 09:00-16:00, Closed: Friday
Winter opening hours (01/11 – 31/03): 09:00-16:00, Closed: Thursday & Friday