Meteora is an area in Thessaly (Central Greece) and Kalampaka is the city under the rock towers of Meteora. The thing that makes Meteora so special is the monasteries on the top of the rock towers. The monasteries, the amound of peaks to climb and the paths for hiking brings in Meteora the whole year many tourists.
Physical Features : The monasteries are built on rock pinnacles of deltaic origin, called 'Meteora', rising over 400m above the Thessalian plain. Chemical analysis and work by the German geologist Philipson, supported by the Greek geologist Papadakis, suggests that the pinnacles were created some 60 million years ago in the Tertiary period, emerging from the cone of a river and further transformed by earthquakes. The pillars are of brown sandstone.
Climate : The mountain range to the east and north of the site experiences a wide climatic variation from baking heat in summer to severe cold in winter with heavy snowfalls. Summer is the driest time, storms occurring all year round especially at higher altitudes.
Vegetation : The area includes forested hills and river valley with riverine forests of Platanus orientalis and species such as the endemic Centaura lactifolia (found near Koniskos village) and Centaurea kalambakensi. The nearest protected area is Trikala Aesthetic Forest(28ha), created in 1979, which has been planted with Pinus halepensis and Cupressus sempervivens.
The potential vegetation cover is described as supra-mediterranean, with climax cover of Quercus spp. and Ostrya spp. and beech Fagus sylvatica forest above 700m.
Fauna : Mammals include grey wolf Canis lupus (V) and otter Lutra lutra. The region was famed in the 1970s for its raptor population, with four vulture species, lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus, black Aegypius monachus, Griffon ps fulvus and Egyptian Neophron peranopterus; four eagle species, golden Aquila chrysaetos, short-toed Circaetus gallicus, booted Hieraeetus pennatus and Bonelli's Hieraeetus fasciatus and breeding lanner falcons Falco biarmicus.
Other birds include rock and cliff haunting species, such as alpine swift Apus melba, crag martin Hirundo rupestris and red-rumped swallow Hirundo daurica.
Somber tit Parus lugubris occurs in the valley. The area remains of importance for birds of prey, with breeding species of honey buzzard Pernis apivorus, black kite Milvus migrans (ten pairs), Egyptian vulture (with 50 pairs the largest population in Greece, but declining), short-toed eagle (five pairs), Levant sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes, lesser-spotted eagle Aquila pomarina (one pair), booted eagle (three to five pairs), Bonelli's eagle (one pair) and peregrine falcon.
In addition, black stork Ciconia nigra breed (two pairs) and roller Coracius garrulus (ten pairs) are found (Grimmet and Jones, 1989).
Cultural Heritage : The Meteora Group of Monasteries comprises the following monasteries: Ascension of Jesus Christ, Transfiguration of the Saviour, Varlaam, Saint Nikolas Anapafsas, Roussanou, Holy Trinity, and Saint Stephan. These are built directly on the rock's surface without foundations as such.
Religious life, starting in the form of hermits dwellings, can be traced to around 1,000 AD. The first monastic community emerged in the 14th century, and was most successful during the 15th and 16th centuries. By the 17th century, the monastic population had dwindled to one-third of its original size.
The site was bombed during World War II and many art treasures stolen. Details of the history of individual monasteries are available in the World Heritage nomination. The monasteries represent a unique example of monastic life since the 14th century.
Local Human Population : Within the area there is only the small village of Kastraki. Human activities include agriculture, forestry, stock raising, hunting and recreation.
Scientific Research and Facilities : The site is of geological interest with reference being made to it by ancient Greek writers such as Herodotous and Strabo, as well as modern observers such as Pouqueville, Leake, Giannopoulos, Ussing and Philipson.
Conservation Value : Monks settled in this inaccessible region of sandstone peaks from the 11th century. The 16th century frescoes found in this group of 24 monasteries, are a fundamental stage in the development of post-Byzantine painting.
Conservation Management : Since 1972 the monasteries have been restored and conservation work is carried out annually by specialists, including archaeologists, restorers, craftsmen and labourers.
A variety of methods are used in the conservation work, includingchemical analysis of colours and concrete injection. The monasteries lie in an area within which different types of building work is prohibited or limited.
Management Constraints : The major threats to the sites are both natural and man-made. The former includes the possibility of earthquake damage; earthquakes occurring frequently but are not of a high intensity.
The latter include disturbance by low-flying aircraft. The Platanus forests are being felled and the vulture species require access to safe, artificial feeding sites.
Staff : The groups of specialists dealing with the restoration and conservation of the site are public employees of the Ministry of Culture and of the Archaeological Service.
Kalampaka : One of the most ancient cities of Thessaly. A town, which is called in ancient times, Eginio. In Byzantine times, during the 9th century Eginio is called Stagi as a site of the episcope Stagon, (it belongs to holy people) as some people explained, (wheat tube) as some others explained, (caves or holes of the rocks) as other people have explained.
During the turkish domination the name changed to Kalampaka and took its name from a Byzantine family, Kalampaka family as some people believe or (took its name) from the turkish kale mpak meaning prestigious castle as some others believe. It is a prestigious castle as it is surrounded by the imposing place of Meteora An enormous group of rocks about 30000000 sq. m.
It is a place which is imposed, having a wonderfull view, as spiritual place and cult towards god, since the ancient times till today It's a place full of natural beaty and harmony of such rugged and imposing rocks. On the feet of the rocks there is Kalampaka,
a town of 15000 people today