Strange natural conglomerate rock pillars appear to rise ‘to the middle of the sky’ in central northern Greece. Indeed, the word ‘meteora’ means ‘suspended in the air’, or ‘in the heavens above’. The monolithic pillars of rock reach up like hands supporting a complex of six isolated Greek Meteora monasteries. The nearest town of Kalambaka shelters at their feet. Please speak to us if we can help with accommodation there.
Kalambaka as Seen from Greek Meteora Monasteries
Ancient flows of mud, stone, and sand formed the conglomerate ‘foundations’ of Meteora on the edge of an ancient lake. Sixty million years ago, movements in the Earth pushed them upwards to create a high plateau. Wind and rain nibbled away at fault lines down countless centuries. The pillars are unique because they have few lines of strata. It is as if Meteora simply happened.
Monastery of the Holy Trinity at Meteora
Natural caves in the colossal pillars housed people for 50,000 years before monks joined them in the 11th century. They retreated to the tops of them when Turkey launched attacks on Greece in the 14th Century. There, they built their first monastic shelter reached by removable ladders they winched up and down. Tradition has it they only replaced the ropes when they snapped. Since then the Eastern Orthodox believers carved steps into the cliffs to the relief of visitors.
Meteora Stairway to ‘The Middle of the Sky”
During World War 2, the Greek Meteora monasteries were bombed and many treasures stolen. Only 6 of the original 24 remain in use, with the remainder lying in ruins. At the last count, only 41 nuns in 2 monasteries, and 15 monks in 4 remained in 2015. We are witnessing the end of an era and the closing of a dynasty. How sad it is to see the end of such tradition. I wonder what they will do with the buildings when they are all gone.