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Tourist stairs to the monastery, Meteora, Greece.

 Tourist stairs to the monastery, Meteora, Greece.

Tourists enter to the monasteries by modern stairs. But access to the monasteries was originally (and deliberately) difficult, requiring either long ladders lashed together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. This required quite a leap of faith – the ropes were replaced, so the story goes, only “when the Lord let them break”. In the words of UNESCO, “The net in which intrepid pilgrims were hoisted up vertically alongside the 373 metres (1,224 ft) cliff where the Varlaam monastery dominates the valley symbolizes the fragility of a traditional way of life that is threatened with extinction.”

Meteora 39.714166667 21.631111111

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