The first sketes (hermitages) in the region of Meteora appeared on the low rock of Doupiani around the 9th century A.D. Later on, reasons of safety and security urged the first monks to abandon them and settle on higher rocks. In the late 12th century a small church called Panaghia Doupiani (Virgin Mary of Doupiani) was built on the surface of this low rock, which became the first one in which all hermits gathered for Sunday liturgy, before they perceived the idea of forming a wider monastic community. Owing to the magnificent view of this location, a new district with traditional houses, small but modern hotels and well-known tavernas emerged around Doupiani, near the village of Kastraki.
Some indicative dates as to when exactly the hermits first arrive into the area are either the 9th or the 10th century. At the end of the 11th century and early 12th, a small ascetic community was already established around Meteora. During that period the hermits of Meteora saw the need to gather around a place of their own in order to attend on the Sunday's liturgy. So they decided to erect a small church dedicated to Theotokos that quickly became the center of their worship. This church is also referred to it as the "Kyriako" translated into Sunday's, or "Protato" meaning the first.
The chapel of Doupiani, dedicated to Virgin Mary
In this church of Theotokos (Virgin Mary), known also among the locals as the chapel of Doupiani, it still preserves significant frescos from the 13th century. The significance of this church and the hermitage scete of Doupiani in general is that as it gathered around it the hermits of Meteora for the Sunday's worship it facilitated the establishment of the very first organized monastic community.
So, during that 12th century we observe a gradual transition to the second phase of a now more organized monastic community from the original state in which the hermits remained at most unorganized and isolated to each other. This important transition it truly paved the way for the third and final phase of the Meteora’s monastic community development that came almost 2 centuries later with the establishment of the first monasteries in the mid 14th century.
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