Saturday, May 28, 2011

"Suspended in the Air"



(the meaning of Meteora in Greek, or "the heavens above") is the right term of expression when one witnesses the sight of this priceless heirloom treasure. Perched on top of breathtaking dominant and monumental rocks the monasteries look up towards the heavens. They represent a unique artistic achievement and are one of the most powerful examples of the architectural transformation of a site into a place of retreat, meditation and prayer.



An extract from UNESCO's description illustrates that: "Built under impossible conditions, with no practicable roads, permanent though precarious human habitations subsist to this day in the Meteora, but have become vulnerable under the impact of time. The net (and basket) in which intrepid pilgrims were hoisted up vertically alongside the 373 m cliff where the Varlaam monastery dominates the valley symbolizes the fragility of a traditional way of life that is threatened with extinction. The monasteries are built on rock pinnacles of deltaic origin, known as Meteora, which rise starkly over 400 m above the Peneas valley and the small town of Kalambaka on the Thessalian plain."

It is said that the hermits and ascetics probably settled here first in the 11th century. The rock community slowly grew and it encompassed 24 monasteries. Each community developed its own resources and by the end of the 14th century, the Grand Meteoron emerged as the dominant community.

Grand Meteoron Courtyard

However, only six of the monasteries remain today.Of these six, five are inhabited by men, one by women. Each monastery has fewer than 10 inhabitants. The monasteries are now tourist attractions. All the pictures shown here I've taken at the Grand Meteoron. It serves as the main museum for tourists.


For me this has really been an amazing and fulfilling experience. The only drawback was that we visited it at the weekend when it was swarming with tourists, while place like this requires a peace of mind for the soul to open. I cannot describe the wonderful energy that fills the place and the unity one feels with the universe. I have to go back there again.
There are more pictures on my flickr page if you want to see more (it's on the right-side bar).

7 comments:

Carol said...

It is just an unbelievable place and hard to believe that such a place exists! You are right, I would want to be there when there weren't a lot of tourists. I suspect that a quieter time would allow the spirits to fill your soul and bring you closer to its essence. Do you think when its totally quiet the spirits chants can be heard ever so softly..

Little Treasures said...

:) I can't say Carol. But I will certainly listen harder the next time!

CREATIVE MIND said...

aahaa..just Amazing..awesome shots & wonderful place for tourists :)

Michele Pacey said...

Such beauty... I can see why you'd be filled with awe witnessing this...

KJ@letsgoflyakite said...

Beautiful post Maya. We must get there! Your post has reminded me about a vacation about 4 years ago when we had a chance to go to the monestary at Pathmos - I will always remember and treasure that experience. I hope to get to the Meteora one day.

Sandy Ang said...

Thank you for sharing these amazing photos. I'm so in love with those byzantine mosaics and wish dearly I'll have a chance to visit one day

Elizabeth said...

What a beautiful place. That's wonderful that you got a chance to visit it!