Tours in Meteora
The Metéora, a word meaning "suspended rocks" or "suspended in the air" is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece.
The Metéora, a word meaning "suspended rocks" or "suspended in the air" is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece. The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone pinnacles, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. The nearest town is Kalambaka. The Metéora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
In the 9th century, a group of hermit monks moved up to the sandstone pinnacles. They were the first people to inhabit Metéora. They lived in hollows and fissures in the rock towers some of which reach 1800 ft (550m) above the plain. This great height, combined with the sheerness of the cliff walls, kept away all but the most determined visitors. Initially the hermits led a life of solitude, meeting only on Sundays and special days to worship and pray in a chapel built at the foot of a rock known as Dhoupiani.
The exact date of the establishment of the monasteries is unknown. By the end of the 12th century, an ascetic community had flocked to Metéora.
In 1344, Athanasios Koinovitis from Mount Athos brought a group of followers to Metéora. From 1356 to 1372, he founded the great Meteoron monastery on Broad Rock, which were perfect for the monks; they were safe from political upheaval and had complete control of the entry to the monastery. The only means of reaching it was by climbing a long ladder, which was drawn up whenever the monks felt threatened.
At the end of the 14th century, the Byzantine Empire's 800-year reign over northern Greece was being increasingly threatened by the Ottoman Empire who wanted control over the fertile plain of Thessaly. The hermit monks, seeking a retreat from the expanding Ottomans, they found the inaccessible rocky pinnacles of Meteora to be an ideal refuge. More than 20 monasteries were built of which only 6 remain today.
Access to the monasteries was originally difficult, requiring either long ladders lashed together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. In the 1920s steps were cut into the rock, making the complex accessible via a bridge from the nearby plateau. During World War Il the site was bombed. Many art treasures were stolen.