The Monasteries of Meteora – Monks Kissing the Sky
When most people think of Greece, the white-washed dwellings topped with domes the color of the Aegean Sea in Santorini or the Acropolis in Athens naturally come to mind.
But if you’re planning a trip to this land of ancient history and ouzo, I suggest adding a visit to the monasteries of Meteora on your itinerary. Only about a 4.5-hour drive from Athens, you can either rent a car or a more practical option might be to join a tour.
Meteora literally means “suspended from the sky” – and these monasteries do seem to be kissing the heavens above. They’re one of the most important and largest complexes of Greek Orthodox monasteries making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and justifiably so.
Overlooking the picturesque town of Kalambaka, the monasteries are not only architecturally beautiful but are built in a setting as equally breath-taking – surrounded by mountains and valleys. However, the most impressive aspect of these monasteries is where they sit perched way up high on the edge of the mountains – making them a man-made wonder painstakingly built by hermit monks.
Dating back to the 14th century through to the 16th century, there were originally 24 such monasteries of which only 6 remain today. The monasteries were built by monks who considered themselves hermits living a solitary life in the nearby caves. At some point in time, all the monks agreed upon living united as a community and thus the construction of the monasteries began. They used simple methods such as ropes, baskets, and ladders to carry all the materials (including heavy stones) to the top of the rock formations (some of which stand at 1200 ft). It took years to complete the construction of all the monasteries – I can only imagine how terribly difficult that must have been! Monks (and nuns) still inhabit the monasteries today which only recently obtained electricity and water.
If you want to experience an incredibly mystical and inspiring place then make sure to visit Meteora – it will possibly be one of the highlights of your trip to this country of mythological gods.
(This is part of my Early Travel Series hence the grainy photos – see more in The World)
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Have you been to Meteora? What were your impressions of this majestic site?