The Heavenly Monasteries of METEORA
The Heavenly Monasteries of METEORA Reviews
The Heavenly Monasteries of METEORA Nov 27, 2012
Meteora is and will always be my favorite place in greece. it is my second time to visit here. i am not a spiritual person, but something in here somehow ejects an invisible energy - so powerful and strong that makes me humble and very human. the greek orthodox religion is so mystic that it feels ancient and pagan in many ways comparable to the ancient greek beliefs.
meteora is located in the foothills of the great pindos mountains - the spine of greece. some geologists say that millions of eons ago, this was a sea and the rocks were formed by great earthquakes. the monasteries were constructed by the hermit orthodox monks in the 11th century as their last bastion to practice their religion against the invasion of the ottoman empire. they had to build the monasteries on the high rock formations of meteora to elude the invading forces and to reach the high heavens and to be closer to god himself. meteora itself meant - "suspended in air". the monasteries are difficult to access using only ladders and ropes, so it could never be destroyed or plundered by the ottomans. there were about 20 monasteries builtin that time, but sadly only six remained intact as time goes by due to neglect, decay and modernization.
the six remaining monasteries are:
- the great meteoric transfiguration (megalo meteoro / metamorphosis): the largest of all the monasteries and built on the highest rock formation of meteora.
- the holy monastery of varlaam: the second largest monastery of meteora and located on the second highest rock of meteora.
- the holy monastery of agia barbara rousanou: a monastery for the nuns and my favorite monastery of all - it faces the beautiful spire structures of the rocks of meteora.
- the holy monastery of st. nicholas anapausas: the smallest , the lowest and first monastery to see coming from the town of kastraki.
- the holy monastery of st. stephen: one of the two monasteries run by nuns (the other is agia barbara rousanou).
- the monastery of the holy trinity (agia triada): the most difficult monastery to get to because it was built on an isolated rock formation, the steps are so steep upwards or you can go there by cable rope.
aside from these remainign monasteries - there are also old and ancient religious structures and places of worship that are built on the rock formations - there are too many to write in this review.
there are fees when you enter the monasteries but not much, it is somewhat a donation for the safekeeping of the monasteries. you cannot enter the monasteries if wearing clothes that are above the knees or sleeveless shirts, the monks and nuns will provide you of clothing. the monks even sell their own handicraft products, candles from beeswax and many more curious greek orthodox thingamajigs that still exists since the byzantine empire.
there are lots of hotels/inns that provides accomodations but i recommend staying at the traditional village of kastraki because its quiet, more homey, the villagers are so friendly and the people are so hospitable and its a great starting point to hike into the monasteries. if you dont like hiking, you can hire a taxi that would take you from monastery to monastery. the best time to go is autumn - as you can see from the pictures: the colors are blazing and so few tourist. you can find yourself alone in the monastery.
by the way, taking pics inside the monastery is forbidden. respect.
it is very easy to get into meteora from athens but it takes time. the bus station is at liossion street and its TERMINAL B, 28 euros one way and around 5 hours of travel time to TRIKALA and from trikala, change bus to kalampaka (the foothills of meteora) if you want to go to kastraki - just flag a cab - its only around 5 euros.
i really recommend going here and take as much time as possible, hiking and photography ops are the main activities but its also a deep spiritual pilgrimage to satisfy even one's lost soul.
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