The Holy Monastery of Roussanou

The Holy Monastery of Roussanou was at first a male Monastery, while now is female. The first owner/owners built the Monastery in the 14th-15th century.

It took its present form in the early 16th century, by the monks and brothers Ioasaf and Maxim from Ioannina. The catholic is devoted to the Transfiguration of Jesus. Also, the memory of Saint Barbara is honoured (4th December).

The Holy Monastery of Roussanou

The frescos are remarkable and are created by an unknown hagiographer influenced by the Cretan school under the monk Arsenios, (perhaps by Georgie, student of Theophanis the Cretan).
The rock, on the top of which the monastery is built, is vertical, steep and narrow. Visitors are impressed when they see it from a distance. The monastery spreads all over the surface of the peak of the rock and it gives the impression of a single construction. The present construction shape was formed during the third decade of the 16th century. The monastery has three floors. The katholikon and the cells are on the ground floor and on the other floors there are reception halls, the “archontariki” (=guest quarters), the exhibition room, other cells and subsidiary rooms. On the base of the rock, rooms for other use (workrooms, library etc) are built.

The history of the monastery goes back to the old tradition. The date 1288 has not been proved historically. According to other unverified information the monastery was founded in 1388 by the priest-monks Nikodemus and Benedict. But it is certain that between 1527 and 1529 the priest-monks brothers Ioasaph and Maximus from Ioanina were granted permission by the vicar of the diocese of Stagoi, the Metropolitan of Larisa named Visarionas and by the abbot of the Great Meteoron Monastery to settle and to become monks on the Rousanou rock. When they climbed up the rock, they found only ruins. So, they started to construct buildings. In 1530 they built the katholikon on the ruins of the even older church of the Transfiguration and they renovated the monastery. We don’t know about the monastery evolution in the following years. But in the two last centuries it fell into gradual decline up to 1940. The monks and recently the nuns tried to keep the monastery open. During the German Occupation it was plundered. During the eighties the Rousanou Monastery was restored and totally renovated by the responsible Archeological Service of the region. Today it operates as a convent.

We don’t know why the monastery was named “Rousanou” despite the fact that the katholikon is dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ and the monastery is known as the St. Barbara Monastery. It is possible that it was named after an old ascetic called Rousanos who had lived on the rock. According to another theory it was named after two Russian monks who built it.

The first monks climbed. Afterwards ascent was made by rope-ladders and nets. Ascent made by nets lasted about 30′ and it was very difficult. Nowadays it is easy to reach the monastery. You have to ascend stairs of cement and cross two little, solid bridges that were made in 1930 and replaced the wooden bridge made in 1868.