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
An ancient gold ring dating back to Mycenaean times was recently returned to Greece by Sweden’s Nobel Foundation, according to an announcement of the Greek Culture Ministry. The Mycenaean signet ring…
Kastellorizo, one of Greece’s smallest islands located in the Dodecanese, is getting ready to host the 1st Rock Solid island trail race, scheduled to take place during June 11-12.
Greece is among the six winners of the 2022 edition of the Natura 2000 Awards, an event that recognises conservation success stories across the EU and raises awareness on the Natura 2000 protected are…
The Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) has handed over under a concession deal a 1934 silo on the port of Piraeus and the surrounding space to the Greek Culture Ministry so that it may be converted into a M…
Peel Me a Lotus by Charmian Clift is a Hydra travel writing classic, describing her family’s life on this tiny Greek island near Athens in the 1950s.
The churches of Thessaloniki are remarkable and include UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, Byzantine masterpieces, and a church dating from the 5th century.
Greece’s beaches are among the world’s cleanest with the region of Halkidiki and the island of Rhodes in the lead this year, according to the 2022 Blue Flag quality award list for beaches, marinas and…
The Municipality of Lipsi is saying “no” to sunbeds on the island’s beaches and is encouraging travelers to enjoy eco-conscious summer holidays this year in order to live authentic experiences. “We ar…
The Municipality of Ioannina, the capital of the Region of Epirus, northwestern Greece, has launched action to associate the city’s gastronomy with the destination’s brand-name and identity. “Adding t…
The Athens Municipality recently completed the first phase of a 4.2-million-euro refurbishment project aiming to upgrade the National Garden, one of the Greek capital’s landmark sites. The refurbished…