March 24, 2011

0 Greece: Meteora

Meteora is a place that would be awe-inspiring for the rock formations alone, but the monasteries built on the rocks make the entire site surreal.  Some of the images below are redundant in being of the same monastery as another, but I selected multiple images in a plaintive attempt to impress the sheer greatness of the site to you.

The rocks were there first, obviously.  Giant rocks, with even the word "giant" seeming trivial in comparison.  These rocks seem (just seem, I'm not aware of any legend significance, although the Titanomachy was said to be fought in Thessaly) to give credence to the existance of the Titans, or some other super-powerful, super-sized beings.

Our driver/guide told us these colorful banners are in place for a Saint's Day.  I can't remember which one, sorry.

Early (really, really early) humans hid and/or dwelt in the caves.

In the 9th century, the monks came.  They didn't build at first, that didn't start for about another 500 years. But when they built, they defied logic.

Just some views of the area.  

This is a kandylakia, a memorial often placed on roadsides where people have been killed in accidents.  They are also sometimes placed as reminders of miracles, for accidents that were not fatal.  This one was on the roadside at the foot of the climb to one of the monasteries.

I found them quite beautiful, and if they weren't mostly on busy roadsides I would have photographed many, many more.  As it was I tried to talk Paul into letting me buy one!  An oil light is kept burning by the family members of the victim, or by the survivor(s).

Below are several images of the monasteries.  I don't know each one's name, I do have a map but with all the winding around I don't know where each of these images was taken.  Just be jaw-dropped and amazed at the views, the engineering feats (by rope ladders and baskets!), and the natural formations of the rocks.

Us, from the courtyard of the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron.  Women who aren't wearing skirts must tie a wrap-around skirt on in order to enter the monastery.  No one wearing shorts or tank tops is admitted. 

Views of the rocks from Kalabaka, the nearest town.

Can you imagine seeing this from your balcony?  (there's a monastery on the top right of the rocks)

A house on the edge of Kalabaka.

A street in Kalabaka, when we stopped to get our first Greek gyros!!

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