To witness, for the first time, the precipitous rocks of Meteora soaring above the plain of Thessaly is an experience both powerful and unforgettable.
Photo by Vangelis Batsikostas on Unsplash
At first the grey-black masses appear to be sculptures put there by some Greek God who dabbled in pottery, but as you get closer you see there is something even more striking about them: built into the sides, or on the summits, are clusters of monastic buildings, with no visible means of access, as if they too had been dropped from heaven.
Photo by Martina Bäcker on Pixabay
The rocks are in fact made of sandstone and were formed about 30 million years ago when the plain was originally a sea. The pounding of the water turned the sandstone into these surreal Daliesque shapes, which were left when the sea eventually retreated.
Photo by Siggy Nowak on Pixabay
The name Meteora means 'rocks in the air' and how the Meteora monasteries were built is still open to speculation: wooden scaffolding, a network of ladders, ropes floated over the tops on kites to gain the first footing, or a combination of these.
Photo by Tasos Lekkas on Pixabay
What is known is that the first of the monasteries dates from 1336, by which time the rock faces had already been scaled by hermits seeking – and certainly getting – seclusion. The first hermit is thought to have been a man named Barnabas who came here in about 985AD.
At one time there were 24 monasteries and today there are 13, but only six are open to the public, and not all at the same time. This is to help maintain some sense of peace and privacy for the handful of monks and nuns who still live in five of the monasteries. For this reason visitors should dress appropriately: wearing shorts or having bare shoulders may result in admission being refused.
Photo by Alexander Nachev on Unsplash
The Megalo Meteoro or Metamorphosis monastery is the highest, oldest and one of the grandest of the monasteries. It was founded by a monk named Athanasios who came to Meteora from Mount Athos, and the cave in which he lived can still be seen just outside the entrance to the monastery, which stands at 1752 ft (534m).
At Varlaam you can see one of the original ascent towers in which both visitors and supplies were hauled up by rope before steps were carved into the rocks. The travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor was visiting the monasteries one time and looked dubiously at this arrangement. He asked the monk who was showing him round how often they replaced the rope. 'Every time it breaks,' was the reply.
Photo by Richard Mcall on Pixabay
The United States is one of the markets that Greece is eyeing to form a travel arrangement that will open up tourism between the two countries this year.
Restaurants and other food and beverage (F&B) establishments in Greece will most likely be allowed to re-open and serve customers initially outdoors after the Easter holiday, Greek Deputy Development…
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. is planning to restart operations this summer with sailings to the Caribbean and the Greek islands.
Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis on Monday clarified that any safety and health rules that apply to Greek citizens – such as mandatory mask wearing and social distancing – will also apply to tourists…
Celestyal Cruises is speeding up procedures for the restart of sailings on May 29, aiming to provide its guests with carefree holidays to the Greek islands and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said Greece has set up five lines of defence against the coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to open for tourism safely this year.
Greek Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Akis Skertsos on Monday told SKAI radio that it is “too soon” to discuss if lockdown restrictions would be eased in Greece in time for the Easter holiday. T…
The Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) has announced plans to undertake the construction of a new playground and a bicycle lane at the port of Piraeus.
The Ministry of Culture has announced the summer operating hours of archaeological sites and museums across Greece. According to a ministry announcement, the opening hours of archaeological sites, mon…
The Guardian recently announced its selection of 10 crowd-free Greek islands and coastlines that can offer travelers “a taste of true Greek culture”. According to the British newspaper, with the end o…