Perched upon wild crags, the complex of Greek Orthodox monasteries called Meteora justify their name in Greek as each of the six monasteries looks like it is “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above.”
Built on natural sandstone rock pillars in the 14th century, the monasteries were a haven for ascetic monks who wanted to remain untouched by the secular world or undesired intruders. Later on, they became a refuge for those who wanted to avoid the occupying forces of the Ottoman Empire.
Athanasios Koinovitis founded the first Meteoron monastery on Broad Rock between 1356 and 1372. Christian legend has it that he did not scale the crag but he was carried up by an eagle. Initially there were more than 20 monasteries built but only six survive today. Four of them are inhabited by men and two by women. With less than ten monks in each monastery, they are now mostly tourist attractions. However, they remain the most important monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos.
Meteora are located at the northwest edge of the Thessaly Plain, near Pineios River and the Pindus mountains in central Greece. The nearest town is Kalambaka.
The Meteora monasteries complex is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.