Athens,  Countries,  Greece,  Thessaloniki

Meteora, Greece, A Heavenly Experience?

Fortunately for me, Meteora is about 14 kilometers from where most of my family lives in the central, northern mainland of Greece. But for all of you, it can be a great day trip to Meteora from Athens or Thessaloniki, about 3 hours or so by car. And speaking of “by car”, the roads in Greece have bunches of tolls! So have those Euros coins ready. They are fabulous roads and well worth every Euro spent!

My Time in Meteroa:

Each time of the three times that I have visited Meteroa it was wonderful and spiritual! Without a doubt spectacular! If  I am fortunate to visit 1000 more times, I believe the experiences would be as sensational as my first visit! The last time I visited was in June 2021 and here are a few of my personal pictures:

Some of you may be asking, at this point, what in the world is Meteora? What’s the big deal?

A Bit about this Fabulous Place:

Somewhere, between the 9th and 10th centuries, the Orthodox Hermit Monks settled into Meteora. The caves they found in this region, located on the cliffs provided a perfect place for their lives of solitude and worship. It wasn’t until sometime in the 14th century that the monks became an organized group. They were often supported by the locals with donations of food and clothing. But then along came Athanasosis who climbed to the 2nd highest point in the cliffs. It was there that he built the first monetary of Meteora, the Great Meteoron. By the 16th century, there were 24 monasteries, 6 of which remain still today. The original monastery remains today and has been dubbed “Megalo Meteoron”, which translates from Greek as “Large Monastery”.

As you drive up the mountain to reach the remaining monasteries look closely. You may catch a glimpse of a monk doing a sabbatical in one of the caves on the cliffsides. I’m told that sometimes they will inhabit these caves for up to 30 days. Ropes are used to drop them down to the cave of choice as are necessary supplies.

THE SIX REMAINING MONASTERIES ARE:

  1. The Monastery of Great Meteoron: is the first and biggest monastery
  2. The Monastery of Varlaam: Varlaam founded the monastery around 1350 and after he passed away, it was abandoned; two centuries later it was revitalized by two brother monks, Theophanes and Nectarios.
  3. The Monastery of Roussanou or St. Barbara: built on a lower elevation. It was damaged in World War II and in 1988 was converted to a convent and is now home to 15 nuns.
  4. The Monastery of St. Stephen: This monastery has two chapels and dates back to the 15th century. It was also heavily damaged during World War II and then again in the Civil War of Greece a few years later.
  5. The Monastery of Holy Trinity: From this monastery, you can walk the ancient trail left by the monks going down to the town of Kalambaka.
  6. The Monastery of St. Nikolaos: The legend behind this monastery is that because it is the first that you come to going up the mountain, it was a resting point and lodge for monks traveling to the monasteries further up the mountain.

What I have written above is just a short brief on each of the six monasteries that remain. Hopefully, your interest is perked up. If you want to do your own reading on Meteora, click  HERE. Each monastery has its own unique story. After learning the history behind each one, I can’t seem to pick a favorite. I’m curious if one, in particular, stands out for you!

Meteora is absolutely stunning sitting above the town of Kalambaka, a typical small Greek town with shopping, coffee bars, and tons of restaurants. It is also the Prefecture Seat of Trikala, the town where my family lives.

METEORA TRAVEL TIP:

When visiting Meteora, please bear in mind the following dress code: Appropriate clothing for everyone is required to enter each monastery. Sleeveless clothing and shorts above the knee for men are prohibited. For ladies skirts and shawls are available to rent at the entrance in case they don’t have such clothing to cover themselves.

Also, there is much walking to do as you visit one or more of the monasteries. I would suggest a comfortable pair of closed-toe walking shoes as you journey into the sky. Make sure to carry water with you and if you have one, wear a cooling towel depending on the time of year you visit.

Enjoy this great video of Meteora. I’m telling you, you’re going to love it! One of the lovely things about this area is that even though there are many tourists and buses, it is not overly commercialized. Once you pass through the entrance gates, you will find no more souvenir vendors. Bear in mind, however, no more water or food either, so stock up to stay hydrated as once inside there is a lot of walking and stairs. Take your time visiting.

 

Meteora is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece because of the large area that it covers. In 1989 it was placed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was designated as an official holy place for Greece in 1995. I’m hoping to be able to visit my family in Trikala very soon. I’m betting that will include another visit to the iconic cliffs of Meteora!

 

Until next time, friends, remember: “To Travel is to Live!”

 

 

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