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Metéora (Greek: Μετέωρα, "suspended rocks", "suspended in the air" or "in the heavens above") is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Peneios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. The nearest town is Kalambaka. The Metéora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List under criteria[2] I, II, IV, V and VII.
History
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 1800 ft (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 or 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.

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Additional Photos by Salvator Barki (salvator) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1725 W: 84 N: 2234] (19102)
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