The Meteora, located in central Greece near the town of Kalambaka , is a rock formation that hosts many Orthodox monasteries, each one built on the top of a giant rock. The unique and enormous columns of rock, rise from the ground and they are aprox. 200 meters high. The rocks are composed of sandstone and conglomerate. Their creation began about 60 million years ago during the Paleogene period.
At the end of twelfth and the beginning of thirteenth century, monks coming from Mount Athos founded the monasteries on the top of each huge rock. This way the monks were safe from intruders and they had complete control of the entry to the monastery. The only mean of reaching was by climbing a long ladder which was drawn up when the monks were threatened. Until the 17th century the only way of conveying goods and people to the monasteries was by baskets and ropes.
During the sixteenth century there were 24 monasteries at Meteora. Nowadays, only six of them are still functioning :
- The Monastery of Great Meteoron.
- The Monastery of Varlaam.
- The Monastery of Roussanou / St. Barbara.
- The Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas.
- The Monastery of St. Stephen.
- The Monastery of the Holy Trinity.
Meteora is the largest archaeological site of Greece. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1989 and also is an official holy place for Greece since 1995.
The Meteora Monasteries are now tourist attractions. Being one of the most visited place of Greece , Meteora receives millions of visitors every year. One of the best things to do in Meteora is hiking in the nature, climbing and nature exploration. Religious tourism is also very popular. Next to Meteora, in Kalambaka there are many hotels, restaurants, shops and facilities.