«The stone forest» and the imposing Meteora monasteries
The “stone forest“, as I like to call Meteora , might as well be included in the wonders of the world list. It is a complex of Paleolithic sedimentary rocks and Byzantine monasteries on top of them, or inside them; a typical example of human resourcefulness as the hermits made the most out of nature to achieve their goals.
But, let’s take it from the beginning, shall we?
The unique phenomenon of Meteora, which was a field of study for both geologists and historians, impresses the visitors from the moment they see the immense rocks, even from a great distance, as the rocks are not part of a mountain but they are placed in the valley of Thessaly as if someone “planted” them there. Maybe that’s why, the Ancient Greeks thought that the Hecatoncheires, the mythical creatures who were part of the army of Zeus threw rocks from the Olympus Mountain during the battle against the Titans. Τhere was no complete scientific explanation, until the 19th century the German geologist A. Philippson developed the theory that a rivers’ estuaries into the narrow part of the Thessalian sea in the Kalampaka have formulated an alluvial fan during the Tertiary Period (~60 million years ago). This theory is reinforced and supplemented by the geology professor of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Mr. Lazaros Fotiadis claiming that the final form of the rocks started during the Quaternary Period (25 million years ago) after tectonic activities have occurred (powerful earthquakes etc.). The geological phenomenon is the first aspect that amazes the visitor.
The second aspect is the Holy Monasteries, which after the 14th century, dominate the landscape impressively on top of the steep rocks. During the first half of the 14th century, Athanasios Meteoritis establishes the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron. From this point on more monasteries are built on the rocks of Meteora up until 16th century. The love of the Byzantine emperors and members of the Royal families of the Empire, as well, has equipped the monasteries with treasures of great importance such as rare ikons, manuscripts etc. The dark ages of the Ottoman Rule and the WW2, haven’t left the monasteries untouched as many were completely destroyed either by fires or by cannons and firearms, others were pillaged and became abandoned, and many Monks lost their lives defending the national ideals and morals.
In recent years, more and more visitors, from all over the world, choose Meteora as a vacation destination. The area’s rich history and the majestic natural scenery with the exceptional view it offers, makes more people than ever, regardless of age, nationality and economic background to desire to get familiar with the area.
An ally to this desire, Meteora Thrones – Travel Center is the biggest tourist agency in the area. Responding to the needs of the modern visitor, Meteora Thrones – Travel Center has designed with passion and according to the highest standards, the best tours in the area of Meteora. The visitor, from the moment Meteora is chosen as a destination, can only trust the planning and implementation of their visit to our fully qualified team. Meteora Thrones – Travel Center owns a state-of-the-art fleet of vehicles, combined with the best tour guides and the lowest price in the market, guaranteeing the best travel experience in your life. What is more, the visitor doesn’t have to worry about where to stay or eat, as we can arrange that for you. In Meteora Thrones – Travel Center you can find a trustworthy person to guide you and offer you an unforgettable experience. We are prepared so our everyday tours respond to the needs of a wide range of travelers and we are ready to offer our services to those who choose to come to the area by train and stay a few hours, as well as those who want to stay overnight and spend more time with us. The visitor can learn more about us on our web page www.meteora.com and contact us for information and whatever is needed. The only thing you have to do is to choose this unique monument of world cultural heritage and leave everything else to us.
Historian – Master of Arts, Ionian University – Department of History
Chief Guide of Meteora Thrones – Travel Center