MAY 01, 2015 2:30 PM PDT

Monasteries in the Sky

WRITTEN BY: Robert Woodard
MeteoraOne of the most unusual religious settlements in the world can be found on Greece's Thessalian plan above the Peneas valley near the town of Kalambaka. Here, from the 11th century on, monks settled in monasteries built on the tops of almost inaccessible rock pillars known as Meteora (Greek: ???????, "levitating") that rise over 400 m (1,312 ft).

These incredible rock formations are of deltaic origin. They consist of sandstone and conglomerate and were most likely formed from fluvial erosion and further transformed by earthquakes that hewed the shapeless masses into sheer rock columns. Chemical analysis of the stone indicates that the pinnacles were created 60 million years ago during the Tertiary period.

Not surprisingly, the Meteora made an ideal refuge for hermits and ascetics. Twenty-four monasteries were built under impossible conditions as well as a plethora of sketes, caves and small churches. Monks put their lives in danger by climbing on the peaks and cavities in the rock using a precarious system of wooden ladders or were hauled up to the monasteries vertically in nets.

The monasteries flourished until the 17th century when attacks by thieves, wars, and foreign intruders led to their degradation. Four of them still house religious communities today. The Meteora Monastery of the Holy Trinity was featured in 1981 James Bond (Roger Moore) movie, For Your Eyes Only.

[Source: whc.unesco.org]
About the Author
You May Also Like
SEP 03, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Falling mite populations warn of global diversity crash
SEP 03, 2020
Falling mite populations warn of global diversity crash
Researchers from the University of Queensland have conducted the first-ever global mite biodiversity study and their fin ...
SEP 21, 2020
Neuroscience
Scientists Compare Structural and Functional Evolution with First Atlas of Cavefish Brains
SEP 21, 2020
Scientists Compare Structural and Functional Evolution with First Atlas of Cavefish Brains
Cavefish are fish that dwell in caves, unable to access the outside world. Often, they were separated from their closest ...
OCT 07, 2020
Plants & Animals
Tasmanian Devils Return to Mainland Australia
OCT 07, 2020
Tasmanian Devils Return to Mainland Australia
For the first time in about 3,000 years, Tasmanian devils have returned to mainland Australia. According to a report fro ...
OCT 07, 2020
Earth & The Environment
The conversion of the Amazon rainforest into savanna may be on the horizon
OCT 07, 2020
The conversion of the Amazon rainforest into savanna may be on the horizon
More dim news from the Amazon: more of the rainforest is at risk of becoming a savanna than previously believed. The fin ...
OCT 09, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Plastic-Eating Cocktail Could Help Establish Infinite Recycling
OCT 09, 2020
Plastic-Eating Cocktail Could Help Establish Infinite Recycling
There's no doubt that the current recycling system isn't efficient enough in handling the plastic wastes our soc ...
NOV 13, 2020
Earth & The Environment
What the cylones of the past can tell us about the cyclones of the future
NOV 13, 2020
What the cylones of the past can tell us about the cyclones of the future
Research from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has reconstructed the patterns of historical tropical cycl ...
Loading Comments...