Meteora is one of the most extraordinary places in the world. The name means “rocks in the air suspended from the skies”. These “towers of rocks stand up to a height of almost 300 metres/1000 feet high above sea level. On top of these massive rocks, which consist a unique geological phenomenon, stand some monuments of faith, Greek Orthodox Monasteries consisting the epitome of Greek orthodox religion and Byzantine art.
More precisely, thirty million years ago, a river was flowing into a lake, where the existing valley is located. During those remote geological times, the water of the lake found exit into the sea and the lake was drained. The sedimentary rocks of sandstone and tertiary conglomerate remained at the river delta as evidence of the tremendous geological changes.
Centuries later, in the 9th century A.D. monks abandoning Mount Athos due to hostile incursions of the nearby people, sought refuge in the natural caves of Meteora. It is said that the first monk who climbed up the rocks and lived in the natural cavities was exposed to heavy weather conditions for months in order to get “closer to God”. These first inhabitants gradually grouped together in monastic communities and during the 15th and 16th centuries many magnificent monasteries were built on top of the rocks. Renowned painters were called to create the frescoes with which they are still decorated nowadays. The hermits devoted themselves to the copying of ancient manuscripts, to manufacturing wooden carved crosses, portable icons and other objects of the ecclesiastical life.
Access to the monasteries till the 20th century was only possible by the means of a long ladder or a basket or a net suspended on ropes from a winch.
Out from 24 monasteries that use to be, only 6 exist and are open to public nowadays. Most of them were bombarded from the Nazis during WWII under the pretext that monks were giving refuge to partisans. The restoration started in the 1960’s financed by the Greek State under initiative of twenty three nuns who resettled the Roussanou monastery. Today Meteora is still a place of religious retreat and consists the second largest monastic community in the country. Moreover, it consists an excellent destination for modern climbers!