Meteora Monastery

Meteora’s Monasteries in the Sky

About four hours northwest of Athens is Meteora, where unique geological peaks form a dramatic and beautiful natural landscape.  Upon these seemingly inaccessible peaks, monks in the 11th century began building monasteries. Eventually twenty-four of these monasteries were built, and it’s no surprise that Meteora’s Monasteries in the sky are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. We were so glad we had the opportunity to visit this magical and off-the-beaten-track part of Greece.

Varlaam Monastery

The name “Meteora” means “suspended in mid-air”

Monastery of the Holy Trinity

After the monasteries were completed, visitors arrived by extremely long rope ladders or were hoisted up in baskets. Once these devices were pulled up, though, the summits became inaccessible. In the early 20th century they were made more accessible as bridges were built between the pillars, and steps were carved into the rocks.

A small sample of the frescoes found in the Great Meteoron monastery.

The area has a special peacefulness, and the residents and visitors value it as a spiritual place. It’s no wonder the early monks settled here to feel closer to God. Today it’s possible to visit six of these monasteries, with amazing frescoes, and also get a glimpse of how the monks lived in isolation hundreds of years ago.

The monasteries topping Meteora’s peaks seem to spring so naturally from the unique geological formations.

The same other-worldly landscape that attracted the ancient monks attracts both hikers and spiritual pilgrims today.

The mystical landscape of Meteora

Hiking with our local guide was great as we heard stories of the area and saw hidden gems we wouldn’t have seen on our own.

A visit to Meteora without hiking is like visiting Athens without the Acropolis

Hiking is rewarding and a must in Meteora

The Byzantine Church of Virgin Mary

This 11th-century church is also a must-see while you are in the area. No photos are allowed, but the church is filled with amazing byzantine frescoes, and more are being discovered.  Surprisingly, the church was constructed with relics of an ancient Greek temple dedicated to Apollo embedded in its stone walls.

Byzantine Church of Virgin Mary

Fast Facts

  • Meteora or the town of Kalambaka is a great place to get off the beaten track, and see a unique and special part of Greece.
  • It could also be a good base to see Delphi and Mount Olympus, as they are within 2-3 hours drive.
  • Besides hiking and visiting the monasteries, there are also other outdoor activities in the area such as world-class climbing, river rafting and horseback riding.
  • The food in the area, with excellent fresh local meats and produce, was fantastic – especially after an active day outdoors.
  • To experience Meteora as we did, I would recommend contacting the Visit Meteora office in Kalampaka. The trails are generally not sign-posted, so only experienced hikers should venture out on their own. Visit Meteora offers guided tours and hikes, but will also assist you with maps and information if you wish to hike on your own.

Our excellent adventure in Meteora was facilitated by Visit Meteora and TBEX. All opinions are our own.

A Taste of Delicious Athens Home Cooking

When you visit a new country, have you ever wished you could glimpse inside a real home, maybe even be invited to dinner? That’s just what we were able to do in Athens, Greece with the Alternative Athens Home Cooked Meals tour.

We were taken to a typical Athenian residential neighbourhood where our gracious host, Eleni, along with her husband, welcomed our group into their home. They gave us a tour of their balcony, which has fantastic views over the city and the Acropolis.

Athenian neighbourhood with large balconies to enjoy the sunny climate.

Athenians love their large balconies so they can enjoy the warm Greek climate. We would be dining al fresco as they often do, and the tables were set with pretty table cloths and china.

The table set for dinner on Eleni’s balcony

Soon we sat down to enjoy Eleni’s delicious home cooking. She first brought out brought out bread and Melitzanosalata, a delicious eggplant dip, while her husband served us each ouzo, the Greek anise-flavoured liqueur.

Next we had Giaprakia, vine leaves stuffed with rice, and a lettuce salad lightly dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Delicious roast lamb with potatoes

After this came the main course, which was delicious leg of lamb that had roasted slowly in the oven with lemon, garlic and potatoes. Eleni is a great cook and she didn’t mind sharing advice how to make the dishes she was serving.

Eleni (left) with her friend and husband.

Greek ice cream with cherries

The meal was accompanied by a refreshing Greek white wine called Savatiano.

For dessert was a fruit platter and Greek ice cream topped with cherry syrup. Over the meal, Eleni told us about her life in Athens, and we had a chance to talk with the other guests as well.

When it was time to leave, it was like we were saying goodbye to good friends. It was wonderful to have this authentic experience in today’s Athens.

Fast facts

If you would like to experience authentic Greek hospitality as we did, I would highly recommend this Alternative Athens Home Cooked Meal tour.

www.alternativeathens.com
price: 32 to 35 € per person

 

Thanks to Alternative Athens for facilitating this experience. As always, opinions are my own.