Structures built without causing any damage to nature and surroundings have always been a marvel for travellers. One such architectural marvel is the monastery complexes of the Eastern Orthodox Church in a place known as Meteora in Greece.
They are built at the top of natural sandstone peaks that rise steeply into the sky.
Meteora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located near the Pinios river and the Pindos Mountains in Thessaly. Many tourists flock here to see this beautiful structure.
The area was first chosen for residence by a group of monks who arrived in the area in the ninth century. They found refuge in the hollows and crevices of the rock. They believed that this would bring them closer to God and save them from wrongdoers.
The word Meteora in Greek means ‘hanging in the air’ or ‘heaven above’. The architectural style of these constructions makes them seem as being true to the name.
At the beginning of the 14th century, more than 20 monasteries were built in Meteora. Their main purpose was to rehabilitate the monastic community, which was threatened with death by the political conditions that prevailed then.
Of these, only six remain - four are occupied by men and two by women. Each monastery has less than 10 members. Situated on steep slopes, these structures can be reached through steps cut into rocks. They are now a big tourist attraction.
The place was bombed during World War II. Many items were stolen from here. However, there are many sights for tourists to see here.
The existing constructions are ‘The Monastery of the Great Meteoron’, ‘The Monastery of Varlaam’, ‘The Monastery of Rousanou’, ‘The Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas’, ‘The Monastery of St. Stephen’, and ‘The Monastery of the Holy Trinity’. Of these, ‘The Monastery of St. Stephen’ and ‘The Monastery of Rousanou’ are home to nuns.
Rock climbing and stay in the lap of nature
There are about 32 hotels in Meteora that cater to the needs of tourists. They are located in the town of Kalambaka and in the countryside of Kastraki below the rocks. The area also has camping facilities for those who want to spend the day in harmony with nature.
The place is also ideal for adventure sports like mountaineering and hiking. There are about 50 huge cliffs for mountaineering, 80 peaks that can be climbed and many hiking routes for those who want to travel without much effort.