Monasteries' History | Meteora | Ascetes and Hermits on Sacred Rocks
Updated: Sep 12
George Papadellis | SG Head
The ascetic community in Meteora started at the beginning of the 13th century. Around 1360, Athanasios Kinovitis from Mount Athos founded the Great Meteoron Monastery which was very difficult to approach. There was only a long ladder that was pulled up when monks felt to be in danger.
By the end of the 14th century, the Ottomans were pressing the Thessaly plain, making all hermits to end up to Meteora. This led to 20 new Meteora monasteries. The last monastery built was the Varlaam Monastery in the early 16th century. The Meteora monasteries in Greece were bombed and stolen during World War II.
To avoid raids, the access to the Meteora monasteries Greece was deliberately designed to be very difficult. Strong nets and ropes were mainly used to hoist up pilgrims and goods vertically for 300 - 400 metres, alongside the steep cliffs. However, in the 20s there was an improvement of access with steps and bridges, still used and further improved today.
In the sixteenth century, the Meteora monasteries reached the number 24. Today, there are only six still functioning, specifically:
Meteora and the monasteries have inspired for James Bond, TinTin, Pokemon, Indiana Jones, Game of Thrones, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Tomb Raider.