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Meteora in GreecePanorama of the Meteora Mountains Photo Gallery Meteora

The Meteora Mountains of Greece

In Thessaly, Greece

The Meteora mountains are in the central, western section of Greece.

About Meteora:

The Puzzling History of Meteora

The Fame of the Meteora Mountains

The All-Female Monastery at Meteora

The Six Monasteries at Meteora


Map of Meteora


The sand colored rocks at Meteora

The Puzzling History of Meteora

Historians are unsure of how the first inhabitants got up the vertical faces of the mountains to create what later became the monasteries that Meteora is famous for (there were at one time an amazing 24 monasteries operating all at the same time. There are currently six still functioning in the area).

The average height of the peaks are approximately 1,000 feet (330 meters) with the tallest being 1,800 feet high (500 meters.)

The oldest recorded reference to Meteora is a hermit named Barnabas using a cave for a dwelling place in AD 985. A monk named Athanasios began the monastery of Megalo Meteoro on a one of the mountain pinnacles in 1382.

In 1920 stairs were cut into the rock to make the six monasteries accessible without requiring ropes and other lifting devices (for an example of this, there is a number of scenes in the 1957 adventure film Boy on A Dolphin which shows how people are hoisted up and down the cliff-face by a kind of rope-elevator).

More recently the area has been refurbished and repopulated by many monks and nuns with significant facilities added in the area to accomodate tourists.

Meteora Monasteries



The Fame of the Meteora Mountains

These unique geological formations are famous in their own right, but also because of the stunning monasteries built atop them. Meteora, which means "suspended in the air" or "in the heavens above" in Greek, is a complex of massive sandstone rock pillars that rise up to 1,800 feet (550 meters) above the ground. These formations are a result of millions of years of erosion and weathering.

The Meteora region gained fame not only for its striking natural beauty but also for the impressive monasteries built on top of these seemingly inaccessible rock formations. Starting in the 14th century, Eastern Orthodox monks began constructing monasteries on these precipices to seek solitude, safety from invading forces, and to promote closeness to God.

At its peak, there were 24 monasteries, but only six of them are still functional today. These remaining monasteries are open to the public and are significant religious, historical, and architectural sites. In 1988, Meteora was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique combination of natural beauty and cultural importance.

The All-Female Monastery at Meteora

The Monastery of St. Stephen (Agios Stefanos) is a nunnery where only women are allowed to live and worship. It was founded in the 15th century and initially served as a male monastery, but later it was converted into a convent. Today, it is one of the six active monasteries in the Meteora region and is open to visitors, both male and female, who can explore its church, chapels, and admire its religious art and frescoes.

Meteora has become a popular tourist destination for travelers interested in history, architecture, religion, and breathtaking landscapes. The area also attracts rock climbers and adventure seekers due to its challenging rock formations.


The steps and high bridge at Meteora



"Suspended in the air" can be translated to Greek as "αιωρούμενος στον αέρα" (aioroumenos ston aéra). This phrase captures the essence of the Meteora Mountains, as the monasteries perched atop the rock formations appear to be "suspended in mid-air."

Meteora-greece


The six monasteries at Meteora

  1. The Monastery of Great Meteoron (Megalo Meteoro): Also known as the Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ, it is the largest and oldest of the Meteora monasteries, dating back to the 14th century.

  2. The Monastery of Varlaam: Founded in the 14th century, it is the second-largest monastery in Meteora and is dedicated to All Saints (Agioi Pantes) and the Three Hierarchs.

  3. The Monastery of Rousanou (or St. Barbara): Established in the 16th century, this monastery is dedicated to St. Barbara and is currently a nunnery.

  4. The Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas (Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas): Built in the early 16th century, it is a smaller monastery known for its beautiful frescoes painted by the Cretan artist Theophanes Strelitzas.

  5. The Monastery of the Holy Trinity (Agia Triada): Dating back to the 15th century, this monastery is known for its incredible architecture, and it was featured in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.

  6. The Monastery of St. Stephen (Agios Stefanos) Is a nunnery dedicated to St. Stephen and St. Haralambos. It was founded in the 15th century and was originally a male monastery before converting to a convent.

These six monasteries are open to visitors, and their breathtaking locations and rich history make them popular destinations for tourists, historians, and religious pilgrims alike.

Meteora at night with dramatic lighting and stars


Go to Meteora Photo Gallery

Go to Meteora Photo Gallery


References:

Encyclopedia Brittanica


The Acropolis in Athens Greece

The Acropolis - Parthenon and More


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