A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog on our trip to Greece. Family and friends who read it thought it did not justify the 3.5 weeks that we spent there and recommended that I split it up and dedicate one post per place that we visited. I have retained the original blog for those of you who want a fast read. With Europe slowly limping back to normal since the COVID 19 lockdown and Greece quite enthusiastic about reopening tourism, there cannot be a better time for me to reminisce about that trip and write about it. Hope you enjoy these posts!
This is the second post of my seven part series on Greece.
The first post covers Thessaloniki. The third post covers Delphi, followed by Olympia, Crete and Athens. Lastly, you can read all my Thoughts, tips and things that matter in my seventh post.
Meteora – for monasteries in the skies.
Well, almost. As you leave Mount Olympus behind you and approach Meteora you are greeted by huge rock outcrops that give you a glimpse of what to expect.
When you have lots of tall steep cliffs and monasteries on top of them, it becomes special. The unique rock formations are a sight to behold.
Hermits seeking solitude started to call Meteora home around the 9th century. They settled at the base of the hills and in the natural hollows on the cliff face. To evade invaders the hermits moved higher up the cliff and by the 16th century there were 24 Greek Orthodox monasteries. Meteora is considered holy, next only to Mount Athos (where to this day only men are allowed and that too for prayers and studies, not for tourism). Some of the monasteries were built as early as in the 11th century, but only six (built around 14th/15th century) have survived and are still functional.
1) Agios Nikolaou Anapafsas
3) Great Meteoron
5) Ayias Triadhos
6) Ayiou Stefanou
You can visit the monasteries in the sequence above and cover the first three before lunch and the next three post-lunch. All the monasteries open at 9am. Some stay open continuosly till 3.30pm/4pm while some others close around 1pm for about 2-2.5 hours and open again from 3.30pm till 6.30pm. Respect the dress code – no show of arms or legs which means full pants for men and skirts below the knee for women.
Today these monasteries not only offer spectacular views of the surrounds but are also home to religious icons, paintings and libraries that hold rich old manuscripts.
We visited four of the six monasteries and skipped the last two. All the climbing up and down several steps and slopes got to the kids.
I still cannot get over how the hermits clambered up and down those steep rock faces on makeshift ladders and/or ropes that would haul the hermit in a basket. These would be replaced only when they gave away!
From Meteora we drove down along mountainous roads to get to our next stop, Delphi.