Monasteries Suspended in the Sky of Meteora
To get closer to the sun and forget the ordinary, these monasteries, which stand 600 meters tall, were erected.
Odd geological formations have always been impregnated by mysticism, perhaps because man values the synchronicity of elements that result in exotic landscapes, or because aesthetic rarity and the perplexity it creates are sacred states. What is true is that man has painted with legends and veneration the places where extraordinary geologic oddities stand.
In northern Greece, in the plains of Tesalia, an attractive geographical peculiarity stands: monoliths separated by short distances and with an unusual height. These grey rocks, which stand side by side, have been carved by erosion. Their name, Meteora, allude to the term given to monasteries hovering in the air or the sky.
In these mountains they built Orthodox Christian temples, one of the most archaic vestiges of this religion of the Middle Ages in Greece. According to the region’s Christian mythology, the rocks had been sent to Earth from Heaven to enable the Greeks the seclusion they needed to pray. The religious centers were erected in the fourteenth century, at a height of six-hundred meters.
Before the temples were created, around the eleventh century, some monks resided in the monolith caves to be closer to the Lord. The stone structures are so far apart that the monasteries, located on the lonely summits and the highest rocks, have a mystical air.
After the German attacks of the Second World War only six of the original monasteries still stand: those of Saint Nicholas, Saint Steven, the Holy Trinity, Roussanou, Varlaam and the Great Meteora. The latter, also known as the Monastery of Transfiguration, was founded by Athanasius (a popular Greek military officer), is now home to a Byzantine church that holds the relics of the first Orthodox Christians and murals that portray the persecutions of the first religious men.
Meteora shows the influence that geology has over our way of thinking. And this is because the most extravagant natural places make us recognize the perfection in everything that exists. In the heights of Meteora, the monks felt their closeness to God was predestined… this is a place that undoubtedly responds to divine pondering.
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