Monastery of Rousanou, Meteora, Greece

April 9, 2015

We recently referenced Kalambaka, Meteora in a previous post. In our Greece/Turkey trip, Kalambaka served as  a logistically good overnight stay after leaving Athens, and en route to Thessaloniki. When we left Kalambaka early morning, there was eerie mist and fog as we drove past the stupendous rock formations, many of which are crowned with monasteries.

Our photo here shows the Monastery of Rousanou.

Roussanou Monastery at Mereora, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Rousanou Monastery at Mereora, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

History of Rousanou Monastery

Rousanou (Ρουσανου) Monastery was founded around 1545 by Maximos and Ioasaph of Ioannina. The reason for the monastery’s name is not known – it is actually dedicated to St. Barbara – but may reflect the name of a hermit who occupied the rock. It soon declined and became subject to Varlaam Monastery by 1614.

The monastery once again fell into disrepair for the two centuries prior to the 1940s, when it was damaged in World War II then plundered by the Germans. It was later repaired by the regional archaeological service and since 1988 it has been occupied by a small community of 13 nuns.

What to See at Rousanou Monastery

Rousanou Monastery stands on a low rock and is easily accessible by a bridge built of wood in 1868 and replaced by more solid material in 1930. Despite this, its situation is still quite dramatic, with the rock dropping off sharply on all sides.

The monastery covers the entire surface of the rock and consists of three levels: the church and cells occupy the ground floor, while the two upper floors house the guest quarters, reception halls, an exhibition room, and more cells.

The frescoes in Rousanou’s Church of the Transfiguration of Christ, which is essentially a smaller version of Varlaam’s church, date from 1560. The narthex is decorated primarily with gruesome scenes of martyrdom, as at other Meteora monasteries. (http://www.sacred-destinations.com/greece/meteora-roussanou-monastery)


At Amphipolis, the Strymon River

April 6, 2015

Our recent Greece/Turkey tour included Amphipolis, briefly mentioned in Acts 17:1: “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.” This biblical reference takes up where Paul and his companions left Philippi and were on their way to Thessalonica, 2nd Missionary Journey.

Fant and Reddish observe:

The modern, small village of Amphipolis belies the importance of the ancient city whose name it bears. Located strategically along the Strymon River and on the Via Egnatia, Amphipolis was one of the most important cities of Macedonia in antiquity. The site of ancient Amphipolis is located between Thessaloniki and Kavala, about 65 miles east of Thessaloniki. From highway E90 there are signs that point the way to Amphipolis. The ancient city sits on a bend on the east bank of the Strymon River, surrounded by the river on three sides. This geographical feature gave rise to the name of the city, since Amphipolis means “around the city.”

Here is a view of the Strymon River.

Strymon River at Amphipolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Strymon River at Amphipolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

In addition to our above Acts 17:1 reference which specifically mentions Amphipolis, Todd Bolen in his notes in his excellent Pictorial Library collection quotes Acts 20:1-3, 6a (KJV) “And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, and there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia…And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread.” Then Bolen notes: “Although no details are given of the stops Paul made during his 3rd missionary journey in this region, it is probable that he passed through Amphipolis, both on his way into and out of Macedonia as he left via Philippi.”

Click photo for larger view.


Blue Mosque

April 4, 2015

My group arrived safely in Newark this afternoon from our Greece/Turkey study tour; it’s also good when everyone’s luggage also arrives. From there we traveled to our respective homes in Alabama, Missouri, Indiana and Florida.

Yesterday afternoon before returning to our rooms to pack up for our return, we visited  the Hagia Sofia and then the Blue Mosque.

At Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

At Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Blue Mosque is the historic Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkish: Sultan Ahmet Camii). It is popularly known as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles which adorn the walls of the interior.
It was constructed from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. The complex contains a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice.

Photo looks upward at one of the minarets as we exited.


Catching Up a Bit from Istanbul

April 2, 2015

Between ınternet ıssues and an agıng laptop ıt turned out I could not post for the last couple of nıghts. Our group has now completed our Greece-Turkey trıp. We have traveled ın the steps of Paul and also vısıted the cıtıes of the Seven Churches (mınus Thyatıra) and fınıshed our trıp by tourıng Istanbul today. It has truly been a good trıp. Here ıs a group shot from Pergamum.

Group photo at Pergamum. Photo by Orhan.

Group photo at Pergamum. Photo by Orhan.

That photo was taken Monday afternoon. Earlıer that mornıng we had vısıted Assos whıch ıs mentıoned ın Acts 21 ın connectıon wıth Paul’s return trıp on the 3rd journey upon hıs departure from Troas.

The staff at the Assos Dove Hotel were especıally frıendly and accommodatıng. Thıs was my second tıme to stay here.

Staff at Assos Dove Hotel. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

Staff at Assos Dove Hotel. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

As you ascend the acropolıs of Assos you wıll see the promınent ruıns of an ancıent temple devoted to Athena. There ıs a model on dısplay at the sıte.

Model showıng how the Athena Temple ın Assos would have looked. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

Model showıng how the Athena Temple ın Assos would have looked. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

Thıs temple would have been ın actıve use durıng New Testament tımes and would have been seen for some mıles ın the Aegean as shıps saıled through thıs area. The context of the mentıon of Assos ın Acts 21 ıs when Paul sent hıs companıons on ahead at Troas ın the shıp whıle he went by land. He boarded the shıp at the harbor at Assos.

Ruıns of the temple of Athena at Assos Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

Ruıns of the temple of Athena at Assos Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

We are to fly back to the US from Istanbul early ın the mornıng (2:00 AM wake-up call). We look forward to sharıng more photos of bıblıcal sıtes wıth you.

Clıck on ımages for larger vıew.