One of the most popular destinations in Greece apart from seaside and summer destinations are the Orthodox Monasteries. There are several of them which are visited during the whole year. One of the famous is Varlaam Monastry (Barlaam) located in Meteora, in central of Greece. The Meteora, is a rock formation of sandstone peaks and means "suspended in the air".
The great Orthodox Athanasios Koinovitis monk brought an ensemble of followers from Mount Athos (a mountain located in the northeastern of Greece and an important centre of Eastern Orthodox monasticism) to Meteora. He and his group were in search of ascetic hermits that had established a religious fortress in the territory. All these dates back to the 14th century, when he came to that particular place of rock formation which needed special skills to reach the stronghold.
He was fascinated by the hermits rock climbing skills which allowed them to survive in the caves and naturally formed fissure at the peak of the region. When he saw these abilities of the monks, it gave him the idea to built a monastry at the tops of the rocks. This was the opportunity to create their own heaven where they could meditate and worship in peace. So, the first Meteoron Monastery was born during 1356 and 1372.
With the time 24 monastries were built, though incredible hard difficulties, during the time of the resuscitation of the eremitic ideal which dates back to the 15th century. Thanks to the climbing abilities of the monks they could live in peace and execute their worship. Even when the Turks (Ottoman Empire) came to the northeastern part of Greece more monks escaped the cruelty to Meteora and climbed the mountains to safety.
Being up from the ground it gave automatically protection from any kind of threat and wars. In order to survive supply chains have been established, ropes, baskets, ladders and lifts were used to transport food and worshipers. These establishment worked well and the Orthodox monks survived for centuries.
Today , only six of the twenty-four monasteries remain and are separated between monks and nuns. The town Kalambaka is within reach of few hours from Athens is hosting the amazing Meteora's Mountains. The monastries are located north of the small town of Kalambaka, south of the village of Kastraki, and east of the Pindus Mountains in the valley of the Pineios River.
The vertical cliffs forming is attracting every kind of visitor to the region. Many visitors are coming because of religious reasons but nature lover, hikers, rock climbers and movie makers are also present. Many films have been inspired of Meteora, the lates one is the "Eyrie Kingdom" of the series "Game of Thrones."