EXPLORE Meteora with this slideshow, check the location map and get all the facts and information below.

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Map showing the location of Meteora World Heritage Site in GreeceFactfile

Website Categories: Earth Features;

Area:  272 km2

Inscribed:  1988

Criteria:

  • Exceptional natural phenomenon (vii);
  • Outstanding natural beauty (vii);
  • Cultural criteria (i,ii,iv,v)

Location and Values: Meteora is a ‘mixed’ site located in north-central Greece where a number of spectacular ancient monasteries are perched on seemingly inaccessible pinnacles of rock. Meteora means literally ‘rocks in the air’, and it is perhaps not surprising that this awe-inspiring place should become a religious centre. The massive sandstone cliffs, towers, pinnacles and domes that provide the natural setting for monastic life are the product of coastal erosion by a prehistoric sea that covered the plain of Thessaly 30 million years ago. The earliest religious communities appeared in the late tenth century when groups of hermits made their homes in some of the natural rock caves, but it was not until the sixteenth century that Meteora reached its zenith, with 24 monasteries and hermitages established. The 16th-century frescoes and other religious art are of particular significance in the development of post-Byzantine painting. Today, six of the monasteries are still occupied, and an unusual (seventh) one, clinging to the side of a cliff, has been restored and can be visited.

Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2017) the conservation status of the Meteora is ‘good, with some concerns’. The IUCN report notes that, while the site is not at serious risk the protection of its natural values would benefit from a more integrated approach to management, with greater emphasis on the linkages between natural and cultural attributes. The report also acknowledges the effects of recent financial austerity in Greece as a serious concern that limits conservation efforts.

Links:
Google Earth
UNESCO Official Website
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description
Birdlife IBA

Slideshow description

Images of Meteora Heritage Site in Greece

The slideshow ‘tells the story’ of Meteora with a portfolio of photos by Peter Howard from a visit in May 2019. They illustrate the spectacular landscape features of this outstanding place and each of the seven monasteries, together with some of the livelihood activities that are an integral part of the natural landscape – grazing sheep, vine cultivation and beekeeping. The slideshow concludes with a series of photos showing the (relatively long) walk along the cliff-tops through forest and grassland to the outlying monastery of Ipapandi. This recommended walk provides an appreciation of the natural environment of Meteora, away from the crowds that throng the central monasteries. Ipapandi itself is a small monastery built into a cave half way up a cliff, in a most dramatic setting and quite distinct from the other six monasteries.

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