The Monasteries of MeteoraMonks 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.

 
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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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Holy Trinity Monastery

 

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Have you been to Meteora? What were your impressions of this majestic site? 

 

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  • Sridhar Salian

    Greece is on my list. So gorgeous, hopefully one day I will be able to make my way to these places. Every photo makes it look like a photographers dream!

  • Ivy

    I want to visit Meteora so badly! The landscapes are absolutely stunning and I heard you can rent a bike to zip along if you don’t want to take the bus, is that true?

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Meteora really is a magical place! Sorry, I don’t know about renting a bike. :

  • You are right, this part of Greece doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of Greece. But it sure does make for a great tour destination – not only is it so full of history, it’s simply beautiful! I’d love to pay a visit to these monasteries one day.

  • This place looks amazing! I’m planning on visiting Greece late next year and will be sure to add it to my list. The architectures and mountains are just stunning.

  • These monasteries nestled in Meteora look so stunning. Do you know how much car rentals are for? I believe it would be quite amazing to self-drive this 4.5 hours to Meteora. How are the roads?

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      Though I’m not particularly fond of tours, we did take a tour bus to go to Meteora so I don’t know how much a car rental would cost. The roads were really nice so no problem driving there.

  • Christine Tran

    Wow this is Greece?! I’m headed there in May! I will definitely look into visiting here, thanks for sharing!

  • Wow! I would have never guessed this was Greece. I’m so used to seeing so much white and blue when it comes to photos of Greece. I love the architecture and the mountains and valleys in the background are breathtaking.

  • TalesOfABackpacker

    Ooh the rock formations look a bit like Montserrat near Barcelona in Spain! It is quite common I suppose to build religious buildings as close to God as possible, it must have been tough to get all the materials up there though! Great views from the top 🙂

  • Untold Morsels

    Incredibly beautiful. I like exploring less obvious destinations and am adding to our itinerary for Greece in 2017. Those monasteries must have been a huge effort to build so it is wonderful that they have stood the test of time

  • I love Meteora. We visited it during our second trip to Greece and it was only the Greek Mister’s first time to see it. It’s just breathtaking and will definitely leave you in awe. We arrived late in the night and stayed in one of the mini hotels there and when I woke up, I didn’t realize that our room is right across one of these rocks. It was stunning!

  • I want to go to Meteora so bad, in fact I want to go to Greece so bad! But Meteora looks like something out of a fantasy movie! I love the spiritual history of the place. We have to come see this for ourselves!

  • Wow what incredible pictures and a beautiful story! I’ve been to Greece a few times but have never been here. Now, it’s definitely on my list for next time. It looks incredibly peaceful and spiritual. Look forward to seeing more!

  • What a fantastic place to visit, steeped in so much history. Your photos are stunning and make me want to pack up and leave now! Great blog!

  • Janine Good

    This is really neat! I love monasteries. I enjoyed them so thoroughly in China when I was there. They are the epitome of peace and tranquility. Being so high off the ground, it is no wonder they are supposedly kissing the heavens 🙂

  • What a fascinating insight into history there – you’re right, I always imagine beautiful beaches when I think of Greece. The construction would have taken such a long time, it’s quite incredible when you think what basic equipment they would have had, using early rope pulley systems etc. Quite incredible! You can see why they would want that top spot though!

  • Ty Janee

    Love the photos! I have never heard this monastery before but it seems like an interesting place to visit. Very interesting post!

  • Arzo Travels

    I have not been there yet. I saw some pictures recently and they looked stunning. And so look your pictures. So different than the beach pictures you normally see from Greece.

    • Lydia@Lifeuntraveled.com

      It’s definitely not a place people think of when Greece comes to mind! I remember seeing the monasteries in a travel brochure (no internet back then) and immediately decided I had to go – and happy I did!

  • Punita Malhotra

    Wow! makes you wonder how they used to construct and access such difficult spots back in those days, without vehicles or machinery. Seems like a great trip..adding it to my list.

  • Neha Verma

    Wow..this place looks amazing. I love visiting ancient and historical places. Those rocks are so massive and time tested.

  • Leah Shoup

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this place before! It’s crazy to see how the monasteries are perched on the cliffs. Seems like an amazing experience 🙂