Gone Traveling to Meteora

Located in midland Greece in the Region of Thessaly, Meteora, meaning “suspended in the air” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site initially inhabited by hermit monks in the 9th century AD. The six intact monasteries existing today were built as early as the 14th century and are perched on high cliffs making access  deliberately difficult by the monks to avoid political upheaval and to find retreat from the expanding Turkish occupation at that time.

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The Monastery of Great Meteoron

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This is the largest of the monasteries which used to house 150 monks. Today, only 3 monks remain

 

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The only way to and from the monastery was to ascend or descend this tower wall by means of a ladder which was drawn up whenever there was a threat. Today, a staircase along the side of the monastery makes it easy for tourists to gain entry to this 600 year old bastion of Eastern Orthodox monasticism.

 

 

 

 

The Monastery of Varlaam

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This is the second largest monastery located opposite The Great Meteoron Monastery founded by a monk named Varlaam.

The monastery’s tower houses the old preserved net, used by the first monks for their ascent and descent from the rock.

 

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A very large 16th century oak barrel used as water storage can be found here as well.

 

The Monastery of the Holy Trinity

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The Monastery of the Holy Trinity is situated at the top of a steep rock over 400 meters high and is one of the more challenging monasteries to access even nowadays. To reach the top, monks had to cross the valley and climb through the rock outcrop on the left side to reach the entrance. Today, one can walk from Kalambaka (the nearest town) along a pathway leading to the foot of the rock, before walking up 140 steps to enjoy the panoramic views.

 

The Monastery of Roussanou/St. Barbara

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The Holy Monastery of Saint Barbara-Roussanou was founded in the middle of the 16th century and is currently inhabited by nuns.IMG_0752

 

 

 

It is believed that it received its name “Roussanou” from first hermit who settled on the rock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monastery of St. Stephen

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The Monastery of St. Stephen is also inhabited by nuns and is the easiest to reach.

 

The Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas

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This is the first monastery that welcomes you on the way to the Meteora Monastery complex.

 

 

There are also several Hidden and Old Monastery Ruins as well as Archaeological sites in Meteora. (Click image for more information)

 

 

Getting to Meteora from Athens:
From the Larisa Railway Station in Athens we took the TrainOSE S.A. (a railway company in Greece) to Kalambaka. The duration of the trip was about 5 hours.

 

Where to stay in Meteora:
There are several accommodations to choose from the 3 nearby towns/villages of Kalambaka, Kastraki and Trikala. Kalambaka and Kastraki being the closer options to the monasteries.
We stayed at Tsikeli Hotel where we received a warm welcome at the reception. The garden views as well as the view from our room was stunning. And I believe the best part of this hotel was that it was located in the quiet village of Kastraki where you can enjoy nice serene walks and meet locals on your way. It was also close enough where you can hike to the monasteries but the local tours do provide pick up from this location as well. They offered free parking, free internet and a free light breakfast. Tours and packages were also offered for a discounted price.

 

Where to eat in Meteora

There are several lovely local options to choose from in Meteora and I’m sure there’s a few more worth mentioning. However, due to our short 2-day stay we were only able to try a few and all of them were very impressive in their own way.

Taverna Gardenia: One of the restaurants in the village of Kastraki. They had excellent food and warm personal service. They provided free dessert as well which was of course GREEK YOGURT with honey! Yum!

Perched on a hill right in the middle of Kalambaka and Kastraki, Meteoron Panorama Restaurant does live up to its name offering spectacular views of the rock formations and the town. Locally grown olives were provided as appetizers and I do love that they have their own barrel wine. I just love eating local!

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Greek coffee in Kalambaka before heading on to our next destination.

 

Tours/Activites:

Our very informative and memorable tour of Meteora wouldn’t have been possible without Visit Meteora. The guides were very knowledgeable and professional. In fact, the ones we had grew up in the Meteora Valley so they were able to answer every question I had (Yes, I am that person in the group). They offered free pick up in the hotel as well as free drop off to any Meteora locations you would like. They provide numerous tours and activities and I definitely recommend spending atleast a couple of nights to really explore this beautiful region. Because when the sun sets and the tour buses have left, is when you’ll truly experience the reason why the monks chose Meteora and see the beauty of nature and man-made creation perfectly mixed together.

 

 

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