The only monastery in the Meteora visible from Kalambaka, St. Stephen’s was founded around 1400 and is now a nunnery. Although less spectacular than the others, it is the easiest monastery to visit and the nuns are welcoming.
History of Agios Stefanos Monastery
Moni Aghiou Stefanou was founded by St. Antoninus Cantacuzene, who is thought to be a son of the Serb ruler Nicephorus II of Epirus, in c.1400.
The monastery suffered much damage in the 20th century: it was bombed during World War II and desecrated during the subsequent Civil War. In the latter period, most of the frescoes were defaced by Communist rebels.
St. Stephen’s was virtually abandoned until 1961, when it became a nunnery. It is currently inhabited by 28 nuns led by Abbess Agathi Antoniou.
What to See at Agios Stefanos Monastery
The old katholikon, which was rebuilt in 1545 and frescoed shortly thereafter, still stands. The new katholikon of Agiou Stefanou was built in 1798 and is currently being frescoed by a modern artist. It is dedicated to the martyred St. Charalambos, whose head it contains.
The refectory (15th century) has a surviving fresco of the Virgin in the apse. The monastery contains a small museum of vestments and other religious objects and the nuns sell handmade embroideries and other trinkets.
St. Stephen’s Monastery just outside the town of Kalambaka and easily approached thanks to a bridge from the main road. If hiking, it is 15 minutes along the path from Agios Triadhos. The trail towards Kalambaka from St. Stephen’s is unused and dangerous; use the Agios Triadhos route instead.