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
DEC 11, 2019
Microbiology
DEC 11, 2019
Ocean Microbes Demonstrate an Evolutionary Principle in Action
Our world is teeming with bacteria and viruses, and in the oceans, their coexistence has them locked in an evolutionary battle....
JAN 17, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 17, 2020
What's the carbon footprint of your fish stick?
New research from scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz highlights the unsustainable footprint of the processed fish industry. The study, ...
JAN 21, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 21, 2020
Scientists Assess GHG Emissions Related to Palm Oil Land Conversion
Palm oil production remains problematic in several ways, and a new study from researchers at the University of Nottingham has quantified one of these probl...
JAN 26, 2020
Microbiology
JAN 26, 2020
The Planet's Soil is Home to Microbe-Eating Protists
Protists don't fit neatly into any other category of organism; they are eukaryotes, but they are not a plant, fungi or animal....
JAN 29, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 29, 2020
New Study Suggests Phytoplankton Will Thrive, not Decline
Based on current Earth models, which project warming seas and nutrient depletion, scientists widely believe that phytoplankton biomass will decline in...
FEB 13, 2020
Earth & The Environment
FEB 13, 2020
Contamination from Industrial Revolution Discovered in Himalayan Glacier
Scientific studies are revealing just how humans have impacted the environment over the past few centuries. Recently, scientists from Ohio State University...
Loading Comments...