The monastery of Saint Nicholaos Anapafsas

The monastery of Saint Nicholaos Anapafsas is the first monastery one can meet on the way from the village of Kastraki to Meteora. All around we can see ruins of other monasteries of Prodromos, Aghia Moni and Pantokrator and the small church of the Virgine Mary in Doupiani. The rock where the monastery stands, is very small and narrow at the top. This influenced the whole structural formation of the monastery, since it could not grow wider so finally a consecutive storeyed construction was the only solution. The first thing we see in the monastery is a very small chapel of Saint Antony and the crypt ehere, in the past, were kept the codices and heirlooms of the monastery. This chapel is of great importance, because on its walls there are preserved a few remains of old century. On the next floor, near a long corridor, stands the Katholikon of the monastery, the church of Saint Nicholaos and on the last floor the old refectory decorated with paintings. Now the old refectory is used as a reception room. The name Anapafsas means “I rest” and comes from the greek verb “anapavomai”.  The Katholikon of the monastery is a small almost squared church but uneven and irregular because of the narrowness of the rock. The paintings of the church are madden by the Cretan monk Theophanis Strelitzas and are the oldest known work of the great painter and leader of the Cretan School. The monastery was abandoned and started to fall to ruins in the first decade of our century. It had already been deserted in December 1909. In the decade of 1960 the monastery of Saint Nicholaos Anapafsas was renovated under the direction of the Archeological office of the region. At the same time a systematic and careful restoration of the painyings gave back their original beauty and glamour. Today the monastery is inhabited, it functions regularly and most of it has been renovated. The unique paintings of  Theophanis whose art marks the iconographical tradition of Orthodoxy, express the beauty of the Byzantine art in this monastery.