The Amazing Meteora Monasteries, Greece

The Meteora Monasteries would be the right place to visit if you ever want to travel to somewhere you can behold the beauty of nature combined with the ingenuity of man. In Kastraki, a village in the plains of Thessaly, near the tower of Kalabaka, lies more than 20 huge rock pillars. These rocks tower hundreds of meters into the sky. Their peaks are crowned by monasteries with wooden galleries and corniced rooftops. This is the Meteora Monastery Greece also referred to as Meteora of Greece, where unique natural rocks are combined with unbelievable human effort. Meteora, which the Greek word for “raised up above the earth,” refers to this group of isolated rock pillars and more than 30 monasteries built on them. The height of these rocks is 300 meters on the average. The highest is about 550 meters.

As you go nearer, the shadow of the towering rocks continues to lengthen. The landscape changes continuously as the sun casts different shadow from different angles. In the winter, they give spectacular picture of stark and black pillars rising out of a white carpet of snow.

Some lonely heights from a veritable forest of huge rocks crowned with monasteries which are in mysterious harmony with the landscape can be seen in Meteora. The monks are always ready to receive you in the parlor, offering you the hospitality which the example of Abraham and Greek tradition demand. Up there solitude and silence are the rules. You will be amazed by exceptional peace and calmness, exactly as happens with a star-filled sky in autumn which is filled with voiceless ecstasy. There on those barren and inhospitable rocks, which became palaces for thousands of ascetics Orthodox monks have learned to be wise in thought and humble in the will.

Meteora Holy Trinity, Agia Triada monastery.
Photo Charalampos Konstantinidis

As soon as you find yourself in the dark churches of the Monasteries of Meteora, you are seized by a feeling which is a mixture of faith and reverence. The holiness of the place, with its carved wooden and gilded screens, its marvelous icons, the cycle of the life of Christ, above, its wealth of murals drawn from the dogmatic, historical and liturgical cycle of the Orthodox Church, creates an atmosphere of profound faith in the Creator. Everything there is characterized by extreme cleanliness and reverence. The ascetic forms which are portrayed on the screens and the walls seem to speak to you in the play of the flickering light of the candles and that little which comes from the lamps. An atmosphere of the divine rules everywhere. Involuntarily you whisper words of prayer, directing your thoughts to the Creator. You have the feeling of talking with Him; you have left the earth, and your thoughts are in the heavens. The dim light which comes from the sky-lights in the domes and the few windows is the mysterious link between heaven and earth. It is here that you believe that you are in heavenly places and experience the mystical forces which work in the soul, with the result that the barriers which separate the human spirit and nature are broken down. Your soul is possessed by awe and love as an expression of the experience of the unapproachable. You are aware of an internal light and peace giving joy which is difficult to describe. God is close to you, He is within you, and you are in mystical communication with Him. It is at this moment that you find yourself.

Meteora and the village of Kastraki
Photo: NickChino

After the churches of the monasteries of Meteora, the monks will take you to see the sacristies and the libraries. Hung on the walls or displayed in show-cases you will find miniature works of art and painting which have taken great patience and persistence to complete to admire. Parchment gospels and large numbers of manuscripts of a historical and liturgical nature, portable icons, the products of skilful hands and a powerful imagination, Good Friday bier cloths, vestments embroidered in gold with an abundance of grace and dexterity, valuable silver and fire-gilded cases, a variety of fine crosses in gold, enamel or silver with precious stones and pearls, and hundreds of other liturgical and ecclesiastical objects are preserved and shown with reverence to every pilgrim.

In the libraries, the monks preserve valuable manuscripts and hundreds of documents. The majority of handwritten codices, which are of parchment, deal with various religious, historical, medical, philosophical and mathematical matters. There are, of course, also those which are written on paper, dating from the 14th century. Some of these codices contain remarkable miniatures preserved in excellent condition. There are also gold bulls, decrees of the Patriarch of Constantinople, lead bulls, patriarchal decrees, etc., which testify to the generous benefactions of emperors and patriarchs over the centuries.

Thus the indomitable will of the monks to preserve and pass on what they had received from their predecessors, their foresight and cunning in difficult times and above all their self-sacrifice have saved these relics, which constitute an invaluable national ancestral treasure.

Depending on whereabouts you go there are plenty of attractions in Greece to keep everyone more than occupied and even better a lot of them do not cost anything for you to go and enjoy.

If you are looking for a wonderful mix of modern-day meeting old world traditions, ancient history and mythology, then Greek has some of the superb attractions in Greece that you can hope to find.

You will get to see anything from more amazing ruins to national parks and areas of exceptional natural beauty to the simply unique and breathtaking Meteora which are a combination of man-made and naturally occurring phenomena that have to be seen to be believed.

The name Meteora cannot prepare you for the sight of huge granite rocks with their stunning Monasteries that were built on top of them around the 14th century and of the 24 that were originally built there are six still inhabited today.

If you fancy a bit of island hopping to really see what other parts of Greece are all about then, Paxos and Antipaxos are a short boat ride away or just a little further over the water is Corfu and all the delights that it has to offer.

Meteora under moonlight.
Photo: Prodromos Sarigianis