Monasteries are very solemn and holy places, but many of them can be found in serene locations. The Meteora Monasteries are no exception, located atop sandstone peaks. This not only gives the nuns and monks who frequent them solitude and security but also giving them quite the view from above the dizzying heights. “Meteora” itself means “suspended in the air”, a fitting name for buildings found at such an elevation.
What are monasteries doing so high up, you ask? The story begins in the 14th century when Athanasios Koinovitis, a monk, lead some devout followers to locate some renowned hermits who had created a religious stronghold within Meteora. Because the hermit’s lived in caves and other crevices within the tall landform. Revering them as climbing masters, they soon learned the method of conquering the surrounding heights and establish a safe haven that would be safeguarded from trespassers. When the Turks advanced upon northern Greece, people climbed to the lofty sanctuary to escape persecution.
As time went on, 24 monasteries were built high up there. A series of pulleys with ropes and baskets, along with a few ladders here and there, were used to transport both supplies and people but they were lifted up in times of great danger. As of today, only 6 monasteries still stand. Men and women are segregated accordingly and guests from across the world are readily welcomed into this highly positioned structure.