The Monasteries

This description of Meteora is taken from the Wikipede website, my thanks to them for an excellent explanation.

The Meteora (/ˌmɛtiˈɔːrə/;[1] Greek: Μετέωρα, pronounced [meˈteora]) is a rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second in importance only to Mount Athos. The six (of an original twenty four) monasteries are built on immense natural pillars and hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area. It is located near the town of Kalabaka at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains.

As early as the eleventh century, monks occupied the caverns of Meteora. However, monasteries were not built until the fourteenth century, when the monks sought somewhere to hide in the face of an increasing number of Turkish attacks on Greece. At this time, access to the top was via removable ladders or windlass. Currently, getting up there is a lot simpler due to steps being carved into the rock during the 1920s. Of the 24 monasteries, only six (four of men, two of women) are still functioning, with each housing fewer than ten individuals.

Meteora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage.

The name means "lofty", "elevated", and is etymologically related to meteor.

Our journey to Meteora was not an expected one. We happened to be in Lefkas at the same time as Bob & Liz on Yanin. After visiting a number of sites in the Ionian Islands we ended up in Lefkas on the way back from Turkey and the Agean Greek Islands. We dropped anchor in Lefkas and reversed into the town quay where we secured stern lines. During one discussion, Bob advised us that he an Liz were considering hiring a car and heading off into the Greek interior to visit a place called Meteora. Needless to say, Doreen and I had never heard of Meteora, so we felt it might be nice to join Bob & Liz on this new type of adventure.

And so it was and we four were to stay a couple of nights in the town in order to really be able to see the amazing rocks at Meteora and the Monasteries that were built on top of some of them.

These days it is fairly easy to visit the monasteries, with good pathways and stairs to the top of the rock pillars upon which they stand. Imagine if you can many years back when the monks had to climb the rock face and to transport all of the materials they needed to build the monasteries, from the ground up to the top. Look carefully at some of the pictures where you will see a basket hanging out of one of the block towers; once they had things sorted at the top, this is how they used to get visitors and goods up and into the monestary. You are also able to see the rock eaten away where the monks used to throw out their urine and other nasty stuff and it has stained and worn out the rock down which it slid.

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