The Theopetra caves 5 kilometres south of Meteora had inhabitants fifty millennia ago.
The oldest known example of a man-made structure was found within a prehistoric cave in central Greece, according to the Greek culture ministry.
The structure is a stone wall that blocked two-thirds of the entrance to the Theopetra cave near Kalambaka on the north edge of the Thessalian plain. It was constructed 23,000 years ago, probably as a barrier to cold winds. “An optical dating test, known as Optically Stimulated Luminescence, was applied on quartz grains nested within the stones. We dated four different samples from the sediment and soil materials, and all provided identical dates,” Nikolaos Zacharias, director of the laboratory of archaeometry at the University of Peloponnese, told Discovery News. According to a statement by the ministry of culture, “the dating matches the coldest period of the most recent ice age, indicating that the cavern’s inhabitants built the stone wall to protect themselves from the cold.” Excavated since 1987, the Theopetra cave is well known to palaeontologists as it was used and inhabited continuously from the Palaeolithic period onwards (50,000 to 5,000 years ago).
In the 9th century, an ascetic group of hermit monks moved up to the ancient pinnacles.
They were the first people to inhabit Metéora. They lived in hollows and fissures in the rock towers, some of which reach 550m above the plain. This great height, combined with the sheerness of the cliff walls, kept away all but the most determined visitors. Initially the hermits led a life of solitude, meeting only on Sundays and special days to worship and pray in a chapel built at the foot of a rock known as Dhoupiani. As early as the 11th century AD hermit monks were believed to be living among the caves and cutouts in the rocks.
The exact date of the establishment of the monasteries is unknown. By the late 11th and early 12th century, a rudimentary monastic state had formed called the Skete of Stagoi and was centered around the still-standing church of Theotokos (mother of God). By the end of the 12th century, an ascetic community had flocked to Metéora.
In 1344, Athanasios Koinovitis from Mount Athos brought a group of followers to Metéora. From 1356 to 1372, he founded the great Meteoron monastery on Broad Rock, which were perfect for the monks; they were safe from political upheaval and had complete control of the entry to the monastery. The only means of reaching it was by climbing a long ladder, which was drawn up whenever the monks felt threatened.
At the end of the 14th century, the Byzantine Empire's 800-year reign over northern Greece was being increasingly threatened by Turkish raiders who wanted control over the fertile plain of Thessaly. The hermit monks, seeking a retreat from the expanding Turkish occupation, found the inaccessible rock pillars of Meteora to be an ideal refuge. More than 20 monasteries were built, beginning in the 14th century. Six remain today. There is a common belief that Athanasios (founder of the first monastery) did not scale the rock, but was carried there by an eagle.
In 1517, Nectarios and Theophanes built the monastery of Varlaám, which was reputed to house the finger of St John and the shoulder blade of St Andrew.
Access to the monasteries was originally (and deliberately) difficult, requiring either long ladders lashed together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. This required quite a leap of faith the ropes were replaced, so the story goes, only "when the Lord let them break". In the words of UNESCO, "The net in which intrepid pilgrims were hoisted up vertically alongside the 373 metres cliff where the Varlaam monastery dominates the valley symbolizes the fragility of a traditional way of life that is threatened with extinction." In the 1920s there was an improvement in the arrangements. Steps were cut into the rock, making the complex accessible via a bridge from the nearby plateau. During World War II the site was bombed and many art treasures were stolen.
Until the 17th century, the primary means of conveying goods and people from these eyries was by means of baskets and ropes.
Six of the monasteries remain today. Of these six, four were inhabited by men, and two by women. Each monastery has fewer than 10 inhabitants. The monasteries are now tourist attractions.
Critiques | Translate
mesutilgim (68620) 2013-02-22 12:19
Hello dear Eleni,
Wonderfull capture of this interesting place in Greece.
I have been twice there and would like to go once again next spring.
TFS and have a nice weekend
Silvio1953 (99199) 2013-02-22 12:33
Ciao Eleni, un'altra fantastica vista di questo luogo incredibile, favolosa la parete di roccia, splendida luce e magnific colori, brava, buon week end, ciao Silvio
Miguel82 (8595) 2013-02-22 13:10
A superb monastery on an isolated rock
I like the surrounding landscape around it
So nice colors, excellent sharpness and wide view in the background
pajaran (36906) 2013-02-22 13:30
Vrlo interesantan i dobar tekst
Lep pogled na stenu i manastir ...
Dobra ostrina snimka, kontrast, lepe boje.
Dobra kompozicija, lepo pokazano.
Prijatno vece i sve najbolje za vikend.
Very interesting and good text
Nice view of the monastery and rock ...
Good image sharpness, contrast, beautiful color.
Good composition, nice revealed.
Good evening and all the best for the weekend.
carlo62 (13544) 2013-02-22 13:31
la foto pende un pò a destra, ma la vista è fantastica.
Vedere questa costruzione arroccata come il nido di un'aquila, con tutta la pianura alle spalle, è meraviglioso.
jadesgran (3365) 2013-02-22 13:45
A marvelous picture.What a view,well composed and earthy colours.
fabbs99 (6322) 2013-02-22 20:50
I appreciate your sense of framing in this shot. Great lights and exposure. Very well done.
Have a great day
Antipodean (1100) 2013-02-22 21:37
Kia pra Eleni,
Great picture of a fascinating place. Brings back memories of my time as a tour leader on the Overland routes to Nepal when we always arranged a stop at Meteora. Cheers, Neil
mohammad_H (6668) 2013-02-22 22:18
Hello my friend
Note the very comprehensive, thank you, free information and beautiful pictures Monastery
Frame is very good, with nice colors and good contrast, clarity and transparency
Have a nice day
danos (74518) 2013-02-22 23:17
Ελένη γεια σου,
άλλο ένα όμορφο κοντινό πλάνο από τα Μετέωρα,με το Μοναστήρι να καλύπτει σχεδόν ολόκληρο το βράχο,έχοντας αυτή την ανυπέρβλητη θέα προς την Καλαμπάκα και όχι μόνο..
Το σημείωμά σου πολύ ενημερωτικό.
saxo042 (31862) 2013-02-22 23:52
A totally fascinating landscape and the idea to build houses on top of these rocks is even more fascinating and admirable. A beautiful landscape view with strong and well saturated colours. Also a very interesting note!
ikeharel (38090) 2013-02-23 0:34
A closer view on one of Meteora monasteries built atop of a mighty rock, with vast valley and fields seem on far and beyond.
Stunning place, an intriguing location for photographers, and well collected.
Enjoy a nice weekend,
Romano46 (5988) 2013-02-23 1:35
questa di oggi è ancor più bell rispetto a quella precedente perchè l'asprtezza del paesaggio e la collocazione dell'edificio in equilibrio sulla roccia è ben più evidente.
Il contrasto molto elevato evidenzia l'asprezza del luogo. mentre la piana sullo sfondo fa capire quanto questo luogo sia lontano dal resto del mondo.
Ottime le tue note.
Ciao e buon fine settimana
abmdsudi (27118) 2013-02-23 3:15
Another nice shot of the monastery with this overview on broader perspective now with the peak is nicely in place. You have nice colours in the sky well composed given the conditions, and great contrast too but I love the sense of depth and vastness, Nice work. Congrats
cornejo (18714) 2013-02-23 4:13
Hola Eleni, otra buena foto de este encantador lugar, muy bien encuadrada con profundidad y buena calidad de imagen. Muy buen e interesante trabajo muy bien realizado, mis felicitaciones amiga mia. Gracias por compartir este buen e interesante trabajo.
Buen dia y feliz domingo.
Saludos afectuosos y todo lo mejor desde el sur de España.
jhm (123140) 2013-02-23 7:49
This is the first time that I see these picture of the monastery.
Another nice shot of the monastery with this overview on broader perspective now with the peak is nicely in place.
Nice panorama view about these area.
Composition and presentation be superb.
Very well done, TFS.
Have a nice weekend,
kasianowak (2459) 2013-02-23 8:10
What an incredible place!
Great photo with beautiful colours and light.
ourania (13085) 2013-02-23 8:29
πολύ καλή η οπτική γωνία από την οποία φαίνεται πώς έχει ριζώσει το μοναστήρι πάνω στο βράχο αλλά και η απέραντη θέα στον κάμπο. Και σε αυτή την φωτογραφία υπάρχει η εντύπωση του τρισδιάστατου. Οι υφές και τα χρώματα είναι πολύ ωραία. Συγχαρητήρια και ευχαριστώ!
Να είσαι καλά, καλό βράδυ,
Didi (49158) 2013-02-23 16:34
S'agit'il d'une photo scannée ? Si oui, c'est de bonne qualité
Beau point de vue sur ce lieu célèbre malgré la dure lumière.
Je retourne dormir :)
marabu61 (4182) 2013-02-24 5:54
Now that is what I call a truly informative note, in the true sense of "learning about the world trough photography", so thank you for all your trouble to explain this amazing place to us so extensively.
The picture itself is perfectly framed, showing us this amazing monastery perched atop that rock, bathed in a gorgeous, warm and golden light.
Truly a beautiful compostion indeed.
have a good sunday
Cricri (87288) 2013-02-24 8:59
Impressionnant cet énorme rocher ou est construit le monastère, bon cadrage qui laisse un aperçu sur le paysage, sublime lumière et couleurs
Schnappilic (7957) 2013-02-24 9:34
Meteora is an amazing place. Your framing with a lot of beautiful colors is really nice. TFS!
TopGeo (38000) 2013-02-24 14:21
Γειά σου Ελένη
Υπέροχη σύλληψη και πολύ ωραία σύνθεση! Μια εικόνα που συναρπάζει αλλά και εκπλήσει με το μεγαλείο των βράχων Μετεώρων και των Μονών...Καλά χρώματα και λεπτομέρειες και σημείωση που εντυπωσιάζουν..
fabianoleite (9098) 2013-02-24 16:47
What a great place for a house, it looks amazing. The colors and depth are fantastic, nice work, Eleni, and have a nice week!
siolaw (37626) 2013-03-10 5:57
Geia sou Eleni
I like Meteora and Meteora photos too!, I gew up in Parga, so we often go there in the 60's and 70's...!
Nice vertical framing with warm colours
- Copyright: eleni mavrandoni (elenimavrandoni) (5807)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2006-07-16
- Categories: Architecture
- Camera: Canon EOS, Canon EF 28-135mm F/3.5-5.6 IS USM
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): Kasia's Favourites [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2013-02-22 12:10