Meteora was a place in Greece I simply had to visit on my recent Big Fat Greek Road Trip. Rarely do places live up to the hype, but Meteora did. Mountains, monasteries, and monks – Check out this article to see some photos of one of the most amazing places in Greece.
Situated in Thessaly, Greece, the area known as Meteora consists of an awe-inspiring landscape. Tectonic activity, eons of weathering, and geological change have all left their mark. Today, enormous rock pinnacles emerge from the ground, reaching out into the sky. It is one of those places, where you suddenly realise just how very small your place is in the universe.
It is little wonder then, that this area was an attraction for hermits, seeking to become closer with God. Later on, religious persecution would see monks build monasteries on top of the pinnacles. It must have been a true test of devotion, because one can only wonder just how difficult constructing these buildings was.
24 monasteries were built in Meteora between the 14th and 16th century. Today, only 6 survive, and they are open to the public to visit and enjoy. Arguably, this has destroyed the original nature of the monasteries, because it is certainly not a place for contemplative thought now. It is one of the most visited areas in Greece, and dozens of buses bring tourists here in their thousands every day. Still, it is possible to find areas of solitude, where you can sit down, admire the view, and come to terms with your place in the grander scheme of things.
Meteora – Mountains
Even without the monasteries, Meteora would be a unique and beautiful place to visit.
The rock formations and landscape give the entire area an other-worldly feel.
It's a good place to put your feet up, and enjoy the stunning views!
Meteora – Monasteries
It is the monasteries which make this place even more special though. Impossibly perched on the tops of the rock pinnacles, the planning and physical labour which must have gone into their construction is incredible.
Imagine trying to carry all the materials needed to build that!
It looks precariously balanced on the edge there!
There were quite a few steps to climb in order to reach each monastery. The monks used to use a rope, net, and pulley system to gain access to the monastery before the steps were made for tourists. There is still one mini ‘cable-car' running today for monks in one of the monasteries.
The monks are in short supply though. They keep themselves to themselves, and most of the men running the ‘tourist face' of the monasteries are volunteers or possibly even employees (I never really did work out which. If you happen to know, please leave a comment!).
This was as close as I got to seeing a monk. Former residents of one monastery were neatly stacked side by side in a room. Why? Answers on a postcard please…
Travel Tips for Visiting Meteora
Meteora is best visited from the nearby town of Kalambaka (sometimes translated Kalabaka and Kalapaka just to make things simple!). Take a look here for the best places to stay in Kalambaka, Meteora. There are various hiking trails which lead from monastery to monastery, but plan ahead, and take plenty of water. Alternatively, those with a car may find it more convenient to drive around the area and enjoy the views, as we did. It is also possible to hire a taxi for the day, and there are plenty of tours that can be booked. To me, it also looked like a great area to cycle around. Maybe next time! Regardless of how you travel, Meteora is another Greek gem, and one that shouldn't be missed when visiting the mainland.
Additional – I visited Meteora again in 2016. You might like to read the full article here – Majestic Meteora.