07 – Meteora

In seeking refuge from the Turks, a group of monks set up monasteries in the inaccessible rock pillars of Meteora. Although the monasteries weren’t built till the 14th century, monks were known to live in the caves of Meteora as early as the 11th century AD. More than 20 monasteries were built over the years, but all have been destroyed and looted (especially by the Nazis) except six. Each monastery has fewer than 10 inhabitants, and only one in inhabited by women. For most of these monasteries, the only way to get to them is to by perilous hike or a rope/basket on a winch.

We visited St. Stephen’s Monastery, the only one you can drive up to. The women there were kinda mean. Especially if you had a camera. But the view was pretty awesome. No wonder James Bond’s “For Your Eyes Only” had a segment of the movie shot here. I’m betting that part of it was shot in a studio, because there was quite a bit of broken glass in the movie, and there’s no way those nuns would’ve stood for that racket. (Are female monks called ‘nuns’?)

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Just because you can drive to this monastery doesn’t mean it’s a simple drive. The road winds back and forth quite a bit just to get to the top.
Scientists will tell you that these sandstone pillars were formed about 60 million years ago, and chiseled by continuous weathering and water. Dr. Dave will tell you that it was formed in The Flood. I can live with that.(Did I ever mention that one of Dr. Dave’s fields of specialty is geology?)

It’s hard to show how high these pillars are, but they’re over 1,200 feet tall!

Quite a view to the plains below!
If you look at the far left side of the building, you’ll see a bridge. It’s probably a 100 feet drop down that crevice.
The Greek Orthodox are very gaudy in the way they decorate with all sorts of images of saints; a sad demonstration of syncretism – the blending of ancient Greek mythologies and Christianity.As historical stuff goes, it was a shame to see that quite a few of the faces of various frescoes were defaced by the Nazis.
I kept expecting a nun to pop out of nowhere and whack my knuckles with a ruler or something.
This is a view from one of the porches in the monastery.
Art hanging on the wall of our hotel.
Here’s a cool 5-minute video I found on YouTube.

Inside St. Stephen’s MonasteryMeteora – a view over the edgeMeteora in the morning