History of Meteora
- The history of Meteora dates back many centuries. Theories on the origin of this natural occurrence link it to geological processes that took place across a number of geological eras. These pillars are thought to have formed during the Tertiary Period, some 60 million years ago. The region was once submerged in water, but a series of earth movements forced the seabed to recede.
- Saint Athanasios founded the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of Jesus in the fourteenth century and gave this enormous rock the name Meteoro, which means suspended from nowhere. The biggest of all monasteries, this one is also referred to as the Holy Monastery of the Big Meteoron. The monks climbed the rocks and procured supplies using scaffolds for many generations. As the years went by, rope ladders and nets with hooks replaced this technique. The monks occasionally pulled a basket up to be utilised. One of the key items needed to enter the monastery was a 40-meter wooden ladder.
- Meteora was at its peak between the 15th and the 17th century as a result of the influx of numerous monks from other monasteries and individuals seeking to live an ascetic life in this holy setting. But after the 17th century, Meteora’s prosperity began to decline, largely as a result of robbery and conquest expeditions. This led to the destruction or abandonment of numerous monasteries. Only 6 monasteries still exist today, each with a small number of monks. The Monastery of Agios Stefanos is the sole nunnery (female convent).
Facts of Meteora Monasteries
- A UNESCO World Heritage site is Meteora, located in Greece. Its meaning is “suspended in the air.” This location will help make sense of that meaning.
- Eroded rocks, some of which have monasteries constructed on them, are what make the area unique. There used to be 24 monasteries here where monks would reside.
- Given that these monasteries were constructed in the fifteenth century, one is left wondering how they managed to pull it off while also marvelling.
It is Greece’s second-most significant historical site.
- One of the most breathtaking locations in both Greece and the entire world is Meteora. The setting is self-evident.
- The Acropolis is Greece’s most significant historical site, with the cliffs and monasteries coming in second.
- The formation of this unusual valley dates back roughly 60 million years. The rocks were eroded by high heat, wind, and water. The columns and rock pinnacles were created as a result of the weathering of the rocks.
Almost 500 centuries of people lived in the caves close to Meteora.
- Around Meteora, there exist caverns that were occupied for a considerable amount of time more than 5,000 years ago. A stone wall that mostly blocked the entrance to the Theopetra cave was one of the earliest structures ever discovered.
- It is thought that the wall was constructed more than 2,300 years ago. Archaeologists think the wall was constructed to serve as a defence against the strong wind. This happened during the Ice Age.
In World War II, Meteora was raided
- One could assume that the Meteora’s isolation and accessibility would make it secure. The Meteora was a target during World War II.
- Because of their historical significance, there was an attack. Also, the monasteries were attacked, and priceless artwork was taken.
- The serenity that the monks had known for years was abruptly broken during the War. Fortunately, not every monastery was obliterated.
To reach the monasteries, a lot of walking is required.
- The monasteries are only accessible by climbing a set of stairs to the top. The Holy Trinity Monastery is one of the monasteries and has roughly 140 stairs.
- There is a pedestrian bridge that connects to the Holy Monastery of St. Stephen. The only monastery that can be reached from all the others is this one.
- It is preferable for visitors visiting Meteora to arrive early in the morning to avoid the lengthy lines on the steps.
- You may readily find food and beverages in the towns of Kastraki and Kalabaka, but not at the summit of Meteora or close to monasteries, therefore you should bring some with you.
People were transported up and down the monastery using baskets and ropes.
- Long ladders or wide nets were used by the monks to ascend to the summit of the rocks. Both people and supplies were transported up to the monastery using the nets and baskets.
- They occasionally changed the ropes, and they had a sign that read, “Only when the Lord allowed them to break.” To be suspended in the nets, one needed to be very faint.
- According to UNESCO documentation, the valiant monks would be hoisted vertically along the 1,224-foot-tall precipice.
- Queen Marie of Romania was the first female climber of Meteora. This occurred in 1921, and by that time steps had been carved out of the granite faces. The neighbouring plateau was used to build a bridge as well.
Architect of Meteora Monasteries
- Upon approaching the Kalambaka region, these magnificent rock formations, a rare geological phenomena perched between heaven and earth, awe tourists from all over the world. They can reach heights of more than 400 metres. In addition to the rocks themselves, Meteora is special in that it has uncommon inhabited monastery building atop them, which helps to break up the monotony of the huge Thessalian plain. According to historians, in the late 11th and early 12th centuries, the first hermits scaled the mountains of Meteora and established the Hermitage of Doupiani or Stagey, a crude anchorite colony.
- Meteora had 24 monasteries during its height (16th–17th century), but only six are active now. A structure on the UNESCO World Heritage List is Meteora. The monastic city of Meteora is home to an incredible and one-of-a-kind collection of artefacts, texts, documents, and icons, as well as an immeasurable wealth of cultural history.
- The old nursing home-hospital, which was founded in 1572 and boasts excellent architecture, is another gem of the monastery. Scholars claim that it houses precious movable icons, including a diptych from the Palaiologan era that features a panel of the Virgin Mary and a panel of Christ’s Severe Humiliation (the Man of Sorrows). 640 manuscripts, papers, and books from the ninth to the nineteenth centuries round out the Great Meteoron’s extensive and diverse collection.
- Visitors can appreciate the St. Nicholas Anapafsas Monastery’s elaborate iconography, which was painted there in 1527 by Cretan artist Theofanis Strelitzas Bathas. And so we proceed on our tour to the active monasteries in Meteora.