Meteora

The Rocks of Faith

The Incredible Rock Formations "Meteora"  |  Photo by: iStock.com, eugen_z  |  29.11.2017

When nature has inspiration, it creates masterpieces like the phenomenon of Meteora. When you look at them, you feel so weak in front of the power of nature. So small and insignificant in comparison to the creator of enormous sculptures, like those smooth rocks standing between Antichasia Mountains and Koziakas Mountain, straight above the city of Kalampaka [the ancient city Aeginio or, later, Stagi (9th Century A.C.)]. This nature was complemented, around 1000 AC, with the intuition of humans, who tried to go closer to the hands of God through ascetic life and imminent prayer. Some humble people chose this special place to create a monastic community with many residents. These people, in the course of time, to satisfy their biological and spiritual needs, constructed 24 monasteries at the top of the rocks, there where eagles used to nest, to test their faith. This important combination of natural and manmade environment led UNESCO, in 1989, to award this monument as a World Heritage Monument under preservation. Today, only 7 monasteries are operational, and the rest are ruins. The important combination of the natural and manmade environment of Meteora led UNESCO, in 1989, to award this monument as a World Heritage Monument under preservation. Today, only seven monasteries are operational, and the rest are ruins. This stunning area attracted, as expected, also, the 7th Art industry, for example the documentary “Meteora” of Josef Hep in 1923, the movie “The Illegals” of Nikos Koundouros, the movie “Meteoro and Shadow” of Takis Spetsiotis, and of course the James Bond (Roger Moore) movie “For Your Eyes Only” of John Glen in 1981. In 2014, the American magazine “Buzzfeed” characterized Meteora as one of the 16 most beautiful places in the world. Meteora is also very attractive for rock-climbers and rappellers. However, they often come into conflicts with the monks, because of the holiness of the monument and the area, so local authorities seek to find a solution on the matter. The area has several other important sights. One of them is the rare (on a scientific basis) cave of Theopetra with the very interesting Museum. The cave has findings that show the transition from Neanderthal to Homo Sapiens (Paleolithic to Neolithic era). Another significant monument of the area is also the highly recognized Byzantine temple of Kimisis of Theotokos with the unique marble pulpit. Moreover, from Meteora, the visitor can easily approach the mountain Koziakas, with the traditional villages of Aspropotamos, the city of Trikala (with ancient Trikki). In 2015, out of several traditional mountainous villages and multicultural cities, the famous website culturetrip.com chose 10 cities that visitors must see. One of those was Kalampaka. Important people of the area were Agios Athanasios Meteoritis (who gave his name to the rocks) 1355 AC, Vasilis Tsitsanis the famous great rebetiko singer, the rebetiko composers Kostas Virvos and Apostolos Kaldaras, the famous singers Dimitris Mitropanos, Giorgos Margaritis, and Leonidas Kavrakos, the big athletes Christos Papanikolaou and Sofia Sakorafa.

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Meteora Map.jpg

Meteora (means elevated in Greek) is a gorgeous formation of uniform columns of rock (not of volcanic origin, but of severe movements of the earth in the Paleogene period) near Kalambaka, Pindos Mountain Chain and Pineios river, hosting the second in importance and size (after Mount Athos) complex of Eastern Orthodox monasteries (some of which are situated on the rocks), included in the UNESCO World Heritage Monuments’ List. Out of the 24 monasteries of the complex, 6 (4 for men, 2 for women) are only functioning, with each housing only a few individuals.

Meteora have been inhabited since 50.000 BC approximately. One of the most astonishing findings is the stone wall at the entrance of the most important cave of the area, Theopetra Cave, which was constructed around 25.000 BC, when the Earth was experiencing an Ice Age, to help with protection from cold winds. First were ascetic monks that lived in caves inside the rocks, around 550 m. high. Around 1100 AD, caverns were occupied, and monasteries were built around 1400 AD. Access to the monasteries from 15th to 19th century was taking place with rope ladders and windlass. In the 20th century steps were curved gradually on the rocks.

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The cave of Theopetra is located above the village of Theopetra, at the foot of Chasia mountain range and at the border of Thessaly and Macedonia regions. It is a 500 sq. m. chamber with a 17m wide X 3 m high entrance. In front of the entrance flows the small tributary of Pineios river named Litheos, which used to offer its fresh water to the cave dwellers. What is very important about this cave is that it features two great world eras: the end of the Neanderthals and the begging of farming.

The construction of monasteries started in 1344 by Athanasios Kinovitis from Mount Athos, who first founded the Great Meteoron monastery. At the beginning of the 15th century, hermit monks started suffering from the expanding Turkish occupation, thus they reached Meteora and built more than 20 monasteries, with the final one, Varlaam monastery, built in 1517. The total population of the monasteries in 2015 was 56, of which 15 monks in four monasteries and 41 nuns in two monasteries. The monasteries are now tourist attractions.

Stay

Divani Meteora Hotel

Divani Meteora Hotel offers guests the opportunity to enjoy traditional Greek hospitality in a contemporary setting. Surrounded by the immense natural beauty of the religious rocks of Meteora, the hotel encourages outdoor enthusiasts to come and escape, offering an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, an international restaurant, superior rooms, executive rooms and superior suites.

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Hotel Meteora

Hotel Meteora is one of the most fascinating hotels in the beautiful area of Meteora, boasting both comfort and recreation facilities. It has 62 rooms equipped with the latest amenities, while suites have top class luxury. The hotel offers an outdoor pool, a gym, a restaurant and a playground, and it organizes thematic excursions.

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Amalia Hotel Kalambaka

Amalia Hotel Kalambaka is situated on a very beautiful setting, on 14 acres of greenery, just minutes away from the town of Kalambaka. The beautiful scenery is completed with running waters, extensive gardens, a large swimming pool and views to the Meteora rocks. The Hotel offers 170 comfortable guestrooms and 2 suites, all situated in three levels, two restaurants, a cafe' and a piano bar.

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Grand Meteora Hotel

Grand Meteora is a 5 star hotel located at the foot of Meteora, next to the picturesque village of Kastraki, offering classic rooms and grand suites of unique aesthetics. The restaurant offers a unique gastronomic experience. Earth tones, stone and wood dominate the entire building and create the sense of a familiar and cosy atmosphere all around.

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Hotel Kastraki

Kastraki is a 3-star hotel located at the foothills of Meteora rocks, in the beautiful village of Kastraki, offering 27 comfortable and elegant rooms with private balconies and spectacular views, and a luxurious suite. The hotel features a comfortable welcome lobby, a spacious lounge, a TV room and a cafe' with fireplace with a view to Meteora.

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