As you drive through the mighty Pindos range, strange rock formations rise ever higher from the plain. Just beyond the dramatic sheer cliff that shelters the town of Kalambaka, the legendary monasteries of the Meteora—one of the wonders of the later Middle Ages—begin to appear along a circular road as it winds 6 km (4 mi) through an unearthly forest of gigantic rock pillars. The ancients believed these formations to be meteors hurled by an angry god. Ascending to 1,820 feet above sea level, these towers, in fact, owe their fantastic shapes to river erosion. But they owe their worldwide fame (and Hollywood moment of glory—remember the James Bond For Your Eyes Only climax?) to what perches atop six of them: the impregnable monasteries built here by pious hermits in the turbulent 14th century.