Meteora - History and Facts | History Hit


Kalambaka, Thessaly - Central Greece, Greece

Meteora is a collection of UNESCO World Heritage protected monasteries in a site inhabited since the 11th century.

Antara Bate

15 Jun 2022
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Meteora

Meteora is an incredible set of monasteries each perched high atop Greek mountains in an area of extraordinary natural beauty. In fact “Meteora” literally means “suspended in the air.”

Meteora history

Meteora is an exquisite complex that consists of huge dark stone pillars rising outside Trikala, near the mountains of Pindos. The monasteries that sit on top of these rocks make up the second most important monastic community in Greece, after Mount Athos in Halkidiki. Out of the thirty monasteries that were founded throughout the centuries, only six of them are active today.

The history of Meteora goes many millenniums back. Theories upon the creation of this natural phenomenon are associated with the geological movements that have occurred several geological periods ago. Scientists believe that these pillars were formatted about 60 million years ago, during the Tertiary Period.

In Byzantine times, monks had the inspiration to construct monasteries on top of these rocks so that they would be closer to god.

The sites on which the Meteora monasteries were built are believed to have first been inhabited by a group of monks who lived their lives in seclusion, in the 11th century. However, many of the Meteora monasteries seen today date back to the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.

The most important of the Meteora monasteries is perhaps that of The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, built in the mid 14th century and this is now a museum. Other monasteries of Meteora include Agias Triados, Agiou Nikolaou, Varlaam, Agias Varvaras Rousanou and Agiou Stefanou.

Meteora today

There is a small fee to enter each of the monasteries. When visiting Meteora, men and women are required to wear clothing that covers them up generally. The monasteries themselves, besides providing an incredible view, are full of religious treasures, wall paintings, icons and libraries rich in old manuscripts.

This site features as one of our Top 10 tourist attractions to visit in Greece.

Getting to Meteora

The two closest towns to Meteora are Kalambaka and Kastraki and these are where most people stay. There is almost no infrastructure among the actual monasteries themselves and parking is minimal, so it easiest to explore the monasteries on foot, by bus or on a tour.

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