The word Meteora means, rocks
suspended in the air or from the heavens above (word
"Meteorite"). The Meteora are included in the
UNESCO World Heritage List. It is an important complex of Eastern
Orthodox monasteries in Greece, where the 6 monasteries, open to
the public today, are built
on natural sandstone rock pillars, over the
town of Kalampaka, in central Greece.
The 64 gigantic rocks are
composed of a mixture of sandstone and conglomerate. They
create a spectacle, unique worldwide.
Geologists and historians about 1000 years ago, expressed several
theories regarding the creation of these rocks. The prevailing
theory is that one of the German geologist Philipson, according
to which million of years ago the area was a narrow and deep part
of sea and a large river had his estuary in this area. The river
placed matter, stones and material, transferred by its waters
from central Europe. From the accumulation of these materials
deltaic cones were formed. About 30 million years ago, after
geological changes that took place, the central part of today's
Europe was lifted the Alpes and the valley of Tempi were formed
and an outlet for these waters to the Aegean Sea was created.
During the time of the alpine mountain
orogenesie, solid volumes of "rocks" were cut off from
the mountain chain of Pindus and as the centuries went by, the
plain of the river of Pinios was formed between them. Orogenesis
refers to severe structural deformation of the Earth's crust due
to the engagement of tectonic plates. The word
"orogenesis" comes from the Greek (oros that
means "mountain" and genesis for
"creation" or "origin"). It is the mechanism
by which mountains are built on continents. Orogenie develops
while a continental plate is crumpled and thickened to form
mountain ranges, and involve a great range of geological
processes collectively called orogenesis. Following the
continuous corrosion by the wind, rain and other geological
changes these rocks took their present form. A spectacle
At the cavities, fissures and peaks of these
rock towers people found protection from enemies that invaded
from time to time the area. Some of these rocks reach
1800 ft or 550m above the plain. This great height, combined
with the sheerness of the cliff walls, kept away all but the most
Hermits and anchorites found shelter on these rocks, seeking
mental calmness and tranquillity, while praying and seeking for
Christian perfection. According to the existing scripts monk hood
is present from the 1st millennium. Initially the
hermits were isolated, meeting on Sundays and special days to
worship and pray not only for their salvation but also for the
salvation of all people, in a small chapel that was built at the
foot of a rock known as Doupiani . Their life was simple and the
According to scripts, Barnabas, the monk who
established the cloister of the Holy Ghost is mentioned as the
first hermit at 950-970 AD, followed by the monk Andronikos from
Crete, who established the cloister of the Transfiguration of
Jesus in the early 1000 AD. Later and around 1150-1160 AD the
Cloister of Doupiani was established. Except the aforementioned
cloisters others also existed in several cavities around the rock
of Doupiani. At the beginning of the 12th c. in the area of the
Meteora a small ascetic state was formed, having as centre of
worship the church of Mother of God extant until today at the
north part of the rock of Doupiani.
The hermits were flowing to this small church from their
hermitages in order to perform their common worship, to discuss
the several problems that concerned them and to ask for the help
from other hermits in order to carry out the hard work. The
leading man of the cloister of Doupiani had the title of the
Almost 200 years later, in the middle of the
14th c. the Monastery of the Transfiguration of Jesus on the
mount was established by Holy Athanassios, who gave the big rock
the name Meteoro. Since
then all the rocks have this name.
During the 14th and 15th
c. a time of great prosperity for the monk hood in the Meteora we
have the creation of many more Monasteries and their number
reaches 24. In the middle of the 14th c. monk Neilos, founded the
Holy Monastery of Ascension (the Holy Monastery of
Ypapanti-Candle Mass, today), and in 1517, Nectarios and
Theophanes built the monastery of Varlaam, which was reputed to
house the finger of St John and the shoulder blade of St Andrew.
Access to the monasteries was deliberately
difficult. The first hermits climbed up the rocks using scaffolds
wedged in holes of the rocks. They felt safe from political
upheaval and had complete control of the entry to the monastery.
Later on, the only means of reaching the monasteries was by
climbing ropes, windlass and long ladders, which were drawn up
whenever the monks felt threatened.
The monastery of Varlaam has an extensive
net and pulley system, from which rope nets are let down several
hundred feet by a windlass, today used for lifting up provisions.
The ropes were replaced, as the monks say, only "when the
Lord let them break". In the 1920s the first steps were
carved in the rocks. There is a common belief that St. Athanasius
(founder of the first monastery) did not scale the rock, but was
carried there by an eagle.
As years went by,
under several difficulties, conquerors of the area, thieves'
raids and other factors, many of the flourishing Monasteries were
abandoned (period of decline after the 17th c) and during World
War II the site was bombed and many art treasures were stolen by the Germans.
Today, the tradition continues for over 600
years, uninterrupted in 6 monasteries, 4 inhabited by monks and 2
According to popularity they are: the
Monastery of the Great Meteoro, the Varlaam Monastery, the St
Stephen Monastery, the Holy Trinity Monastery, the St Nicolas
Anapafsas Monastery and the Roussanou Monastery. Each of them has
fewer than 10 inhabitants.
Furthermore, with the generous efforts of
the monks, of the local Bishop Serafim and the contribution of
the state, the E.E.U. and several citizens, some more monasteries
have been restored and maintained, such as:
1) The monastery of St Nicolas Badovas
(dependent on the Holy Trinity monastery), and
2) Of Ypapanti-Candle Mass (dependent on the
monastery of the Transfiguration or Great Meteoro).
feel that the Meteora belong to everybody. This is your chance to
see the "unique" spectacle and visit the monasteries.
The promotion of the natural phenomenon of the Meteora and the monasteries on the rocks of Meteora, a world heritage jewel, is our concern. Every year more than 1,000,000 people visit the Meteora and the monasteries. Our tour operates as supportive and not competitive to the organized guided tours. We consider ourselves very knowledgeable about the Meteora, the birth and history of the area. Let us book the hotel of your choice in Athens and take advantage of the information that we have prepared for you, about the Greek Orthodox church architecture and the history of the monasteries at Meteora.