Meteora hanging monasteries in Greece, Thessaly

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Introduction :
Meteora is a series of rock towers located just beside the city of Kalambaka in the Thessaly region of Greece. The main attractions in the Meteora is the monasteries built at the top of the rock towers and perched onto high cliffs which made it looked like hanging monasteries as the name Meteora was given. There are a total of 6 monastries built on top of the rock towers and those still intact today are the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, Varlaam, Rousanou, Nicolas Anapausas, St Stephen and Trinity. Due to its unique artistic values and amazing architectural properties, the Meteora was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1988 and is a world famous tourist attraction in Greece today.

Entrance to the Crac des Chevaliers
Holy Monastery of Varlaam was built to house to finger of St John and shoulder blade of St Andrew
Image attribution to Dido3 @ Wiki

Viewing the Meteora from a hotel at Kalambaka
Viewing the Meteora from a hotel at Kalambaka
Image attribution to mahnke @ Flickr

Steep cliffs and landscapes around the Meteora
Steep cliffs and landscapes around the Meteora
Image attribution to davide78 @ Flickr

Holy Monastery of St Stephen
Holy Monastery of St Stephen
Image attribution to quicksilver @ Flickr

History :
THe earliest inhabitants in the region dates back to almost 50,000 years ago during the pre historic times. From the 9th century, a group of hermit monks moved up to the rock pillars at the Meteora and were the first people to settle in there. The great Meteoron monastery was built between 1356 and 1372 by Athanasios Koinovitis who brought a group of followers to the Meteora in 1344. Towards the end of the 14th century, more than 20 monasteries were built as an ideal refuge for the hermit monks seeking retreat from Turkish occupation. The Holy Monastery of Valaam was built in 1517 and was believed to house the finger of St John and shoulder blade of St Andrew. Despite having up to 24 monasteries at one time, bombings in World War II destroyed many sites and only 6 monasteries remain today with only four of them inhabited by less than 10 people each.

The landscape and surroundings looking down from the hanging monastery
The landscape and surroundings looking down from the hanging monastery
Image attribution to fran001 @ Flickr

The Great Meteoron Monastery was the first to be built at the Meteora
The Great Meteoron Monastery was the first to be built at the Meteora
Image attribution to Fingalo @ Wiki

The town of Kalambaka for residing tourists visiting the Meteora
The town of Kalambaka for residing tourists visiting the Meteora
Image attribution to Fingalo @ Wiki

Beautiful sunset at Meteora
Beautiful sunset at Meteora

Getting there :
The nearest airport to Meteora is the Nea Anchialos National Airport (VOL) which serves the city of Volos and is a 2 hours drive away from Kalambaka where the Meteora is just beside it. The nearest international airport is the Thessaloniki International Airport (SKG) which is 216 km from the Meteora and can be connected by buses, trains or renting a car and driving there yourself.

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