Rousanou Monastery
Community ID
Alternate Names
Monastery of Saint Barbara
Kastraki and Kalabaka
Modern: Archbishopric of Athens; Medieval: Diocese of Stagi
Meteora, Thessaly
Medieval Location
North side of valley behind Kastraki and Kalabaka
Savior Jesus Christ
Date Founded
1388 or 1545
Religious Order
Greek Orthodox
Foundation Information

Information regarding the date and first founders is sketchy. The Abbot Polykarpos wrote that two monks, Nikodemos and Benedict, built the church of the Metamorphosis on the rock of Rousanou in 1388 with the permission of the Abbot of the Great Meteoron. The Abbot’s project was one of pious industry rather than scholarship, and consequently the information he provides is often inaccurate. However, a church dedicated to Christ the Savior was built upon the rock of Rousanou at some point before the actual monastery was built, and perhaps the information provided by Polykarpos somehow coincides with the construction of the church of Christ the Savior.

In 1545, two brothers called Maximos and Joasaph founded the church and monastery as it now stands. Maximos and Joasaph obtained permission from the Archbishop Bessarion who was in charge of the diocese of Stagi and the Abbot of the Meteoron to build a monastery on Rousanou. They rebuilt the church of Christ the Savior and constructed cells and other buildings around the church. They also acquired vineyards and fields for the maintenance of the monks.

First Members

Maximos and Joasaph

Population Counts

1614: 4 monks
1849: 2 women
1859: 2 monks

Incorporated By

In 1614 Patriarch Timotheos II placed the monastery under the care and supervision of the Monastery of Barlaam. At that time, the Abbot of Barlaam also took control of all its possessions, including ecclesiastical furniture, servants, fields, vineyards, gardens and olive-groves.

Dependency Of

The founding charter identifies the monastery as a coenobium under the jurisdiction of the Abbot of the Meteoron and obedient to the Bishop of Stagi.

Other Ecclesiastical Relations

The founding document written by Maximos and Joasaph is almost an exact copy of the founding document written by Nektarios and Theophanes in 1542 for the Monastery of Barlaam.

The Rousanou Monastery is a member of the Skete of the Meteoron.


The monastery acquired a metochion at Kapraina, the modern village of Koprena or Avra near Kalabaka.

Early Documents

The founding document by Maximos and Joasaph is found in Sumbolai eis tēn historian tōn Monōn tōn Meteōrōn, 143-53.

State Of Medieval Structure

The monastery fell into ruin in the seventeenth century before it was placed under the supervision of the Monastery of Barlaam. The structure has been renovated in the 20th century and parts are now open to visitors.


Part of the head of the martyr Barbara.

Published Primary Sources

Mission archéologique de Macédoine, vol. 1 contains inscriptions and documents pertaining to Meteora, see p. 441-447 in particular; Suggramma historikon; Anekdota patriarchika kai ekklēsiastika grammata peri tōn Monōn tōn Meteōrōn, p. 296-298;

Miscellaneous Information

It is unclear when a female community first inhabited the Rousanou Monastery. There have been communities of nuns living in the monasteries or caves of Meteora since the seventeenth century. However, there is no documentation as to where these communities resided. The first documentation of women at the Rousanou Monastery occurs in 1849. During travels in Meteora, Curzon found the monastery inhabited by two old screaming women who refused to allow him entrance. Curzon states, “Finding there was no hopes of getting in, we told them they were the ugliest old wretches in the country, and that we would not come near them if they asked us upon their knees; upon which they screamed and chattered louder than ever, and we walked off in high indignation.” In the twentieth century, the Monastery has become home to a community of nuns.

Since the largest relic in the monastery’s possession is part of the head of the martyr Barbara, the nuns who currently reside at this monastery call it the Convent of St. Barbara.