Meteors - suspended in the air Greece monasteries
Location show on map
Trikala Prefecture, Thessaly, Greece
Date of build
Meteory is the name of the complex of Orthodox monasteries in Greece, the second most important, just after Mount Athos. They are also the second most popular place in Greece, overtaken only by the Acropolis. Literally translated, this name means "suspended rocks", "suspended in the air" or "in the sky above".
The rock massifs themselves were formed about 60 million years ago, their characteristic and varied shapes were carved over time by earthquakes, rains and winds.
The monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern end of the Thessaloniki Lowland near the Peneios River and the Pindu Mountains, in central Greece. These rock megaliths are on average 300 meters high, and some of them are up to 550 meters high.
The foundation of monasteries began around the 11th century. Originally 24 monasteries were built, each containing one or two churches, monks' cells and a refectory. Each monastery is designed and built in such a way that its altar is facing the east and the rising sun.
At present, Meteors are the seat of six monasteries, four male and two female: Ajos Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas Resting), Ajos Stefanos (Saint Stephen), Ajias Triados (Holy Trinity), Megalo Meteoro (Great Meteor, Transfiguration), Rusan (Rusan, Saint Barbara) and Warlaam (Warlama).
In the 14th century, a scholarly monk from Mount Athos - Saint Athanasios Meteorites, founded the Holy Monastery of the Great Meteoron and called this huge rock "Meteoro Megalo", which means "The Great Place Hanging in the Air". This monastery is also known as the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration and is the highest, largest and oldest of the six Meteorite monasteries.
Only 20 monks and four nuns are left here. The decrease in the number of caretakers is largely due to the increase in tourism, which is not suitable for the monastic lifestyle.
The monks came to Meteora in the 14th century in search of peace and safety. Once, the only way to reach the monasteries was to climb on the rocks or to get on ropes in a basket. Since the 1920s, stairs and numerous footbridges have also been available.
The monks and nuns wake up at 4:00 am and then pray for 3 hours. The religious services can be attended by all those willing to participate. However, only Orthodox Christians can participate in the pre-marriage service. The followers of another faith will also not be able to participate in the communion.
There are 41 hermitage sites in the Meteor, but finding them is very difficult, or even impossible, because there are no signposts to them.
The most famous hermitage is the one named after St. George. It was established in the 17th century on the spot where a local Muslim landowner cut down a few trees from the holy forest dedicated to St. George. It is said that the Saint paralyzed his hand for punishment, but it was cured after offering the Saint his wife's veil, the most precious gift according to the Muslim religion. Since then, every year the faithful hang colorful scarves on ropes hung between the trees by this cave. In the annual climbing competition, young men from the neighboring village take these scarves and store them in their house, because it brings health.
The Great Meteor Monastery, called the Monastery of the Transfiguration, stands on the highest and most elevated meteor rock - Plathilithos (613 m above sea level), which is 250 meters from the foot to the top. To get to the top, you have to climb a 192 staircase carved in the rock.
The Warlaam Monastery is the second largest monastery in the complex. It was built in 1541 and decorated in 1548. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is of the athonite type (a square cross with a dome and a choir), with a spacious exonarthex (solid) is surrounded by a dome. It was built in 1541-42 and decorated in 1548.
The Rusan Monastery, founded in the middle of the 16th century and decorated in 1560, occupies a lower rock than other meteors. It was founded around 1545 by Maximos and Ioasafin of Ioannina.
The Ajos Nikolaos Monastery was founded in the early 14th century.
The St. Stephen's Monastery was founded in 1400. It has a small church built in the sixteenth century and decorated in 1545.
To conquer the Holy Trinity Monastery, you have to cross the valley and continue climbing up the rocks. The church was built in 1475-76 and decorated in 1741.
The network of hiking trails located here is 35 km long and offers magnificent views of the hermitage. Each rock has its name here, which makes life easier for the inhabitants.
The complex was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988 in two categories: nature and art.
"It’s got this otherworldly vibe about it, it had this really great energy, and I wanted to have a record that lived up to that energy." - Chester Bennington, explaining why he called Linkin Park's second studio album from this rock formation in Greece.