This collection of randomly shaped rocky outcrops, near the village of Kalambaka in northern Greece, is, on its own, quite remarkable. Add a monastery perched high on the top of just about every one and it becomes a place of wonder.
The day had been grey and wet, but a hint of the sky breaking, as sunset approached, was good enough reason to head down the road from my overnight parking spot on the off-chance of a clearance – a good decision !
The colour and effect of the low light angle giving a wonderful glow to the area. Certainly, the many hundreds perched of every available viewpoint weren’t going to move before it was dark!
At their peak in the sixteenth century there were 24 monasteries at Meteora. They were created to serve monks and nuns following the teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church whose was centre was, and still is, Mount Athos in Halkidiki. Today there are six still functioning, while the remainder are largely in ruin.
They were intentionally isolated and accessible only by lashed together ladders or nets hauled up the rock faces, some over 350 metres high. This required quite a leap of faith; the ropes were replaced, so the story goes, only “when the Lord let them break”! They are now accessible by staircases and pathways that were cut into the rock formations in the 1920s.
Of the six functioning monasteries, the Holy Monastery of St. Stephen and the Holy Monastery of Roussanou (picture above) are inhabited by nuns while the remainder are inhabited by monks. The total monastic population of the Meteora in 2015 was 56; 15 monks in four monasteries and 41 nuns in two.
Certainly an evening to remember!