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The monasteries of Meteora

Driving up to the monasteries of Meteora, it is almost like being on a different planet. These high pillars of rock that seem to reach for the sky in the otherwise flat landscape look like something out of science fiction. And on top of them - the monasteries - old, magnificent and very impressive.

Monasteries: The area of Meteora is said to have been sea once upon a time. Sometime in the 11th century orthodox hermits started living in caves in these high cliffs, far, far away from the rest of the world. They slowly became organised since they met for mass once a week, and in the 14th century the first constructions started and it is believed that one of the reasons was that the monks and the people needed shelter from the Turkish attacks that went on.

The Great Meteoron was built 1356-1372 and the man behind this project was the monk Athanasios, who also set the rules for the monastic life. When riches were added to it after a member of the Serbian royal family became a monk here, the monastery got a leading role in Meteora. Other active Monasteries of Meteora are the Monastry of Varlaam, the Monastery of Rousanou, the Monastery of Agia Trias (Holly Trinity), the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos and the Monastery of Agios Stephanos.

Meteora Greece monasteriesMeteora had its peak period in the 16th century, but then the monasteries were slowly abandoned. Today there are six active monasteries left.

The fascinating landscape was used when filming the Bond film "For Your Eyes Only". The hero and the bad guys climb the high "stalagmites" and as a matter of fact, there are many people who still do this through the mountaineering organisations of the area.

Very near to Meteora located the cave of Theopetra, 10 km from Kalmbaka, the cave is one of the most important prehistoric sites in Greece due to the fact that traces have been found there before the Neolithic Age. The cave of Theopetra is unique in Greece because it was first inhabited during the Middle Palaeolithic Period and therefore it is important because it demonstrates the transition from the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic way of life in Greece. Among the findings are tools from stone and several objects made from clay.

Meteora lies by the town Kalambaka, and there are buses that come here from almost every part of Greece. There are also daytrips offered from Thessaloniki, Chalkidiki, Athens and the North Sporades. There are accommodations in Kastraki a wonderful village near by.

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