METEORA

- Greek rELIGION -

The
Rocks of
God

On the western edge of the plain of Thessaly, where the Pinios River emerges from the deep canyons of the Pindus range, one comes upon a unique phenomenon of nature. 24 gigantic, perpendicular rocks, on which about 600 years ago Byzantine monks chose to worship God and built Meteora, their monastic community. How the monasteries were built on the top of these virtually inaccessible rocks is a subject of fascination for pilgrims and visitors alike. These gray stalagmites etched by time into a variety of shapes, rising towards the sky, appear as nature’s gift to the pious that have opted for solitude and a life of worship. The monasteries, with their wooden galleries and cornice rooftops, crown the summits of these formidable pinnacles.

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The wild and inaccessible landscape of Meteora became the “shelter” for the Christian ascetics who settled in the area, on a date that is not exactly known, but is estimated around 1100 AD. The steep cliffs, which appear to have come from the sky, are located near the first hills of Pindos and Hassia, above the towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki, in the Thessalian plain, in the center of mainland Greece. On the peaks of some of the rocks of Meteora, there are monasteries built, making the area the second most important monastic complex in Greece, after Mount Athos.

At their peak in the sixteenth century there were 24 monasteries at Metéora but only six (the Mansions of the Transfiguration of the Savior, the Holy Trinity, St. Nicolas of Anapache and Varlaam, and the women’s monasteries of Rousanos and St. Stephen) are currently operating and included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Meteora
in the
Movies

Meteora has been featured in the James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only" and in the Angelina Jolie film "Tomb Raider - Cradle of Life".

If you ever find yourself in Meteora with fog, you will really think you are in another world. It is a landscape of unparalleled beauty that is worth visiting, whether you are lovers of natural and wild beauty, or are looking for peace and quiet. On the way from Kalambaka to Kastraki, a road leads to the monasteries of Agios Nikolaos of Bantova and Agios Antonios, which are built in the caves of the rocks. 

In addition, the rocks of Meteora are ideal for rock climbers, with many routes for which they can be found here: 

Rock Climbing Meteora

In Kalambaka, located in the “shadow” of the rocks, you will find many hotels (often overlooking the imposing rocks), but also restaurants, taverns and cafes. Do not forget to visit the newly renovated old town, where there is the only woodworking school in Greece. Above Kalambaka is the picturesque village of Kastraki, with its beautiful houses, mansions and narrow alleys. 

From Meteora and Kalambaka you can also easily visit the picturesque village of Elati, Pertouli with its ski center and the surrounding areas of Aspropotamos and Hassia.

How
to get
to Meteora

By car

Meteora is 360 km from Athens and 230 km from Thessaloniki. The shortest route is from Domokos – Karditsa – Trikala. Kastraki is 3 km from Kalambaka.

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St Stephen monastery Meteora
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The Meteora Monasteries

Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron

Great Meteoron

This is the largest of the monasteries located at Metéora, though in 2015 there were only 3 monks in residence. It was erected in the mid-14th century and was the subject of restoration and embellishment projects in 1483 and 1552. One building serves as the main museum for tourists. The Katholikon (main church), consecrated in honour of the Transfiguration of Jesus was erected in the middle of the 14th century and 1387/88 and decorated in 1483 and 1552.

Varlaam Meteora

Varlaam Monastery

The Monastery of Varlaam is the second largest monastery in the Metéora complex, and in 2015 had the largest number of monks (seven) of the male monasteries. It was built in 1541 and embellished in 1548. A church, dedicated to All Saints, is in the Athonite type (cross-in-square with dome and choirs), with spacious exonarthex (lite) is surrounded by a dome. It was built in 1541/42 and decorated in 1548, while the exonarthex was decorated in 1566. The old refectory is used as a museum while north of the church is the parekklesion of the Three Bishops, built in 1627 and decorated in 1637.

St Stephen monastery Meteora

St Stephen Monastery

The Monastery of St. Stephen has a small church built in the 16th century and decorated in 1545. This monastery rests on the plain rather than on a cliff. It was shelled by the Nazis during World War II who believed it was harboring insurgents and was abandoned. The monastery was given over to nuns in 1961 and they have reconstructed it into a flourishing nunnery, with 28 nuns in residence in 2015.

Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron

Rousanou Monastery

The Monastery of Rousanou/St. Barbara was founded in the middle of the 16th century and decorated in 1560. Today it is a flourishing nunnery with 13 nuns in residence in 2015.

Varlaam Meteora

St. Nicholas Monastery

The Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas, built in the 16th century, has a small church, decorated by the noted Cretan painter Theophanis Strelitzas, in 1527. There was one monk in residence in 2015.

St Stephen monastery Meteora

Holy Trinity Monastery

The Monastery of the Holy Trinity is on top of the cliffs. It was built in 1475 and was remodeled in 1684, 1689, 1692, 1741. There were four monks in residence in 2015.

Art, literature, music and film inspired by Meteora

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