Where is this hilltop monastery?
The monasteries stand on some huge natural sandstone pillars that were mould into their bizarre shape by the winds and the time. Up there, the monasteries seem to hover between earth and heaven, an illusion that makes monks and visitors feel close to the celestial world. These cone shaped pillars prove the artistic nature of Nature.
According to the 19th century geologist Alexander Philipson, they were created after huge amounts of material piled up in this area where a huge prehistoric river was flowing towards a vast lake which covered today’s Thessaly.
When the waters drained into the Aegean Sea and the valley of Thessaly was revealed, these rocks emerged and the millennia along with the extreme weather conditions formed them into their today’s shape.
The first evidence of ascetic life in Meteora dates back in the 10th century, when some hermit monks chose the caves and the hollows in the pillars’ walls to lead an ascetic and reclusive lifestyle. In 1160 A.D. the “Scete of Stagoi Dhoupianis” was found, which is considered to be the first attempt of an organized monastic community.
However, it needed more than two centuries for the first monastery to be built. In 1356, Athanasios Meteoritis, a monk from Aghion Oros, came to Meteora and built on the top of the largest cliff the “Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of Jesus” or “Great Meteoron”. From then on, these huge rocks were named after this exact monastery and took the name “Meteora”, which in Greek means: an object that levitates.
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