It took thousands of years for these rock formations to take shape, and it seems they have all been sculpted perfectly—molding themselves in shapes that allowed a group of people to use for faith and survival. Rising above the above the Peneas valley, are breathtaking columns of the Meteora monasteries in Greece.
Translated as “suspended in the air” or “up in the heavens,” the Meteora is a complex of Eastern monasteries in Thessaly, central Greece. It is considered as one of the most important complexes in the world, because of its breathtaking beauty and rich history. If these rocks could talk, they will definitely have so many stories to tell, perhaps even one of the most amazing stories ever told.
Referred to as “columns of the sky,” these are Greek monasteries where monks settle in the beginning of the 11th century. These are rocks that have been transformed into architectural wonders–a place for meditation and prayer. These days, with all the technology and advanced building developments, it’s not really difficult to make something like this possible. However, these structures were built during a time when there were no heavy machinery to make lifting possible, no proper roads to pass on, no easy way to transport people or supplies. But the monks found ways, and used things such as nets, wooden ladders, and ropes as modes for transporting goods from below.
According to stories, the first group of monks that lived here settled during the 9th century, having a refuge more than 1,500 feet above the plain. Because climbing down these heights proved to be difficult, it was said that the monks–who live in caves and rock cutouts–only came down on Sundays for worship.
It was during the end of the 14th century that Turkish raiders wanted control over Thessaly. Because of this, monks looked for a place where they could take refuge; someplace quiet in nature that would help them live their lives of prayer. More than 20 monasteries were built here, and now, there are six surviving monasteries in Greece Meteora that could be visited:
The Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery has beautiful frescoes by a monk named Theophanes Strelitzas, the Agia Triada Monastery has lots of amazing paintings from the 18th century (and was also featured in 1981 James bond film For Your Eyes Only), and the Agios Stefanos Monastery could be viewed from the nearby town of Kalambaka. You can access the Roussanou Monastery (which was built on the ruins of an older church) by using the bridge connected to it. The Varlaam Monastery has a small chapel that also has impressive frescoes and has a great collection of relics.
Last but definitely not least is the Great Meteoron Monastery or Megalo Meteoro, which is considered as the main museum. This is the largest, oldest, and highest of all surviving monasteries in Meteora is a definite must-visit for all people coming here.
Visitors can visit the Meteora at any time of the year. Lots of visitors usually come by around July to mid-October. The weather could be colder and wetter during December to March, so unless you’re good in dealing with the cold and rain, it’s best that you choose other months for visiting. As visitors, you must follow the rules here as well. Make sure that you wear proper clothing (shorts and sleeveless shirts/tank tops are not allowed). It’s also advised that you bring some water with you (you can find vendors selling water but they could be a bit more expensive here), especially if you’re exploring this place for a whole day.