In the foothills of the Pindus mountains, above the central Greek plains of Thessaly, is a series of geological wonders stick out from the ground. The name Meteora means “suspended in the air” or “suspended rocks” and it is appropriate.
The first hermit monks appeared in this area as early as the 11th century, however the monastery complex only began to flourish after the Ottoman conquest of Byzantine empire in 1453. Due to persecution and concern about the Ottomans, orthodox monks sought refuge in increasingly remote locations.
To gain access to the monastery one originally had to climb a series of ladders tied together or be dragged up via a large net. According to the monks the ropes were only replaced “when the Lord let them break.”
Top photo is of Varlaam Abbey.
Middle and bottom photos are of Varlaam Abbey and the Great Meteoron Monastery via Gabriel on Flickr.