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The Nunnery of St. Stephen

Above the town of Kalambaka stands the women's monastery (since 1961) of Saint Stephen, unique for its access via a small bridge instead of stairs. Rooted in ancient tradition, this monastery holds significance in female monasticism. Monks settled on the rock of Saint Stephen's monastery in the late 12th century. While historical records cannot fully verify the information, it is believed that the ascetic Jeremias was its first founder around 1191-1192.

The monastery's architectural framework was established in the 14th century and finalized in the 15th and 16th centuries. Initially, it was owned by its monk and abbot, Antonios Kantakouzinos, and later by the monk Philotheos "from Sklataina," who undertook extensive restoration work. In 1545, the monastery attained stauropigian status, which it retained until 1743.

Theophilos reconstructed the original katholikon, situated southeast of the precinct, along with the monastery's vault museum. This katholikon, now dedicated solely to religious use, is accessible for worship only on the monastery's celebratory days (December 27 and February 10). The monastery's interior was adorned with frescoes in two phases: the first phase, sponsored by the abbot Mitrophanou and hieromonk Grigoriou, and the second phase, executed by the painter priest Nikolaos of Kastrisio in the 17th century.

In 1798, a new catholicon was erected in the northwestern precinct, designed as a three-bay cruciform inscribed temple with an expansive apse and a porch. This new structure was dedicated to Saint Charalambos and included cells built by him, situated on both sides of the entrance. Frescoes within the new katholikon were crafted by the renowned icon painter Vlasis Tsotsonis.

Various auxiliary structures, including the hearth, stable, and other areas, are located in the eastern part of the enclosure. The monastery reached its current architectural form through developments in the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors, according to monastery guidelines, are required to adhere to a dress code: men should avoid sleeveless tops and shorts above the knee, while women are expected to wear long skirts below the knee.

The Nunnery of St. Stephen (Meteora, Greece)
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