The Meteora are one of the most impressive and special geological monuments not only of Greece but of the world as well as beyond the peculiarity and beauty of their wider region Meteora, there is the second largest and most important monastic community at Orthodox Greek area.
That is why they have been characterized as the second Mount Athos which has maintained the religious and monastic tradition for centuries.
Meteora, the place that takes your breath away
What impresses her visitor Meteora they are of course huge dark rocks emerging from the plain just above its town Kalampaka and the graphic Kastraki while it is strange that this so special place of Meteora has not been mentioned by any ancient historian nor in Greek Mythology. The spectacle, however, is whether you are under the rocks in her city Kalampaka, whether you are on them is literally breathtaking. The peaks of some of them exceed 400 meters above the plain, with the result that everything looks tiny, like when you are behind the window of an airplane. The Meteora are located since 1988 in UNESCO World Heritage List (see description from the official UNESCO site in English).
The geological phenomenon of Meteora
The unique phenomenon of Meteora is the result of geological changes and turbulence on the Earth's surface lasting millions of years. According to the most prevalent scientific version in Meteora were the estuary of a river that flowed in the present area of Thessaly which was covered by sea. Today's rocks were part of the reserves of sediments from the river at its estuary. 60 million years ago for some or 25 to 30 million years for others, some large-scale geological changes began that elevated a large part of central Greece by sinking a large part of Thessaly that became a lake. During the Tertiary period, large earthquakes caused additional changes in the landscape of Greece, creating the opening of Tempi through which, according to the prevailing theory, the waters of Thessaly poured into the Aegean, thus bringing to the surface theoretic rocks with the passage of time and the huge impact of nature, such as earthquakes, water, air and various climatic changes shaped the spectacle which we enjoy today.
Monasteries of Meteora
The Great Meteor and the Monastery of Barlaam
Their name is Meteora they took it from Osios Athanasios the Meteorite, the owner of the first monastery in Meteora, the monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior or otherwise the Great Meteor. Saint Athanasios the Meteorite climbed the rock with the hitherto named "wide stone" in 1.344, which he renamed Meteor. (more information about the first and largest monastery of Meteora in the article Holy Monastery of Megalo Meteoro in Meteora)
Of the 30 monasteries that were founded in Meteora Today, only six are in operation, but they have been restored and most of their murals are well preserved. It is open most days of the week and receives hundreds of visitors daily.
The second largest monastery after Great Meteor is Barlaam Monastery (All Saints) and owes her name to the monk Βαρλαάμ who climbed the rock in 1350 and built there a small temple of the Three Hierarchs and some cells. It is located just opposite Great Meteor and has a wonderful view as well as some places worth visiting such as the old kitchen (home) and the hospital.
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos (Rest)
If coming from Trikala you pass to go up to Meteora through the Kalambaka and the Kastraki, then the first monastery you will encounter on your left is that of Saint Nicola's of Asmenos or I'm resting. The second floor of the monastery is famous for the exceptional hagiographies of 1.527 by the great Cretan hagiographer Theofani Strelitza, who later created the decoration of some monasteries of Mount Athos! The monastery, which was in serious danger from the passage of time, was renovated in 1960.
The next monastery you will encounter is hers Rousanou Monastery. At the beginning you will see it hanging impressively over your road on the right while later and as you go up it is worth stopping at some point of the road in order to enjoy how atonically it connects with the impressive landscape of Meteora. Until 1936 the ascent to the monastery was done only with escalator ή net, something that changed with the construction of two small bridges. However, you can see the escalators with binoculars or a large photographic lens hanging even today!
Monastery of Agios Stefanos
Η Monastery of Agios Stefanos is built on the southern rock (meteor) of Meteora is a nunnery since 1961. The current katholikon of the monastery was built in 1798 in his memory Saint Charalambos of which the head keep as sacred and miraculous relics by the nuns of the monastery.
Holy Trinity Monastery
Finally, the monastery of the Holy Trinity was founded by the monk Dometius in 1438 and is considered the third oldest monastery of Meteora. It is located on a rock from which you have a stunning view to Kalambaka just below you but also in the rocky stunning landscape of Meteora to your right. In fact, if you look carefully, you will see the monasteries in the background Great Meteor and Barlaam. When we visited Holy Trinity Monastery Some repairs were being done and so we had the opportunity to see the small cable car with the building materials coming and going several times, thus giving us the opportunity to get a taste of how not only the materials but also the people were transported. However, since 1925, a ladder with 140 has been carved in the rock, in some places narrow and with a large slope, stairs that facilitate the ascent to the rock. Holy Trinity.
Climbing in Meteora
The only place of Meteora beyond the huge geological and religious interesting, it is a favorite destination for climb. Many call them Meteora, her paradise climbing in Greece as there are over 200 rocks and more than 700 routes with an altitude difference of 30 to 450 meters! At first you consider that the first climbing attempts were made purely for reasons of security and protection from the various raids that took place in the area. Then, from about the 10th century AD, their effort began ascetics and monks for climb the rocks of Meteora in order to have absolute peace and isolation from the rest of the environment. The construction of the first small temples and cells as well as the need to raise the materials needed for them led to the construction of escalators, nets and special stairs whose support beams were inserted into holes made by the monks in the rocks. And somehow we reached the 20th century and the first organized attempt to climb and record them climbing routes that existed in Meteora by the Germans Dietrich Hasse and his friend the climber and photographer Heinz Stutte who every year from 1975 onwards visited Meteora along with their other German friends. In fact, these efforts led to the publication by Hasse and Stutte of a complete climbing guide in Meteora
Accommodation in Meteora (Kalampaka-Kastraki)
Photos from Meteora and the monasteries
Map of Meteora with the locations of the monasteries to be visited
Access to Meteora
The Meteora are in prefecture of Trikala and access to them is very easy as from the capital of the prefecture you just follow the signs for the town of Kalampaka located just below the theorets rocks of Meteora.
Η distance from Trikala to Meteora is about 25 km and you can reach them by following the long straight route to Kalambaka. Just before entering Kalambaka, you will follow the right road Kalampakas - Vlachavas while there is also a sign for Meteora. Alternatively you can enter Kalambaka and take the road that passes through it Kastraki and between the imposing volumes as well as under some monasteries.