Our day was in two parts. The morning was associated with the history of Meteora and the Monasteries that have been there since the 16th Century.
How did this start? The rocks that hold the Monasteries were originally underneath an inland sea hemmed in by the mountains around Kalambaka that we can see today. Over millions of years starting from a small dribble there was a gorge cut through the rock near the current village of Platamon on the East coast. Finally the Pinios River wore down the rock and the inland sea drained leaving the rocks exposed. We now have the Pinios River running to the sea through the Pinios Gorge.
There were many caves established on the rocks over the time they were under the sea and in the 11th Century Hermits started to find their way to the area and lived in the caves. They led a lonely life and it wasn't until the 14th Century that those there started to gather on Sundays to pray together.
After that start, monks formed around a wise old Monk and started to construct the Monasteries we see today. The Holy Monastery of St Nikolas Anapafsas was established in 1510.
There are now only 5 monasteries at Meteora, 2 Nunneries and 3 for Monks. We visited 2 today and Elena took us through the history of the Greek Orthodox Church that in fact was started by a Roman Emperor and his wife. Constantine took part of his Empire to the East and settled in Constantinople thus starting the Byzantine Empire and with it the Greek Orthodox Church following his conversion to Christianity.
Following our visit to the Monasteries we returned to Kalambaka for lunch and the proceeded north to a location were on 16 April 1941 Brigadier Savage established a blocking force to cover any approach from the west that may have been able to cut off our withdrawing troops.
The position was 5 km north of Kalambaka with good fields of fire and protected by a raging Pinios River on the left flank and a major swollen creek in front. Brigadier Savage had the 2/5th and 2/11th Battalions supported by 2/1st Anti Tank Regt, NZ Field Regt, Medium Regt and 7 Cruisers from the Hussars. The position was never required to fight there as the withdrawal passed the blockage point at Larrisa well before the Germans arrived.
With us on the ground were 3 members who had their father there at the site in 1941. Laurel Bussey, Rosemary Sandford and Roxane Scott. It must have been a very moving moment for them and it will be again tomorrow for their fathers were at Vevi, tomorrows destination.
Kalispera from Kalambaka.
Last lot of photos a couple show the Kalambaka position.