Meteora is a mystical place in central Greece. Above the towns of Kastraki and Kalambaka, 24 massive rock formations reach about 400m into the sky. Monasteries on these rock formations are breathtakingly beautiful. The word Meteora literally means ‘in the heavens above’, ‘suspended in the air’, or ‘middle of the sky’. This UNESCO World Heritage site attracts tourists from all around the globe for its breathtaking scenery and its geological, cultural, and historical significance.
Where it is and How to Get There
Meteora is located somewhere in central Greece, in Thessaly, near the town of Kalambaka with close proximity to Pindus Mountains and the Pineios river. You can reach the Kalambaka village via train or driving from Athens. Average travel time is about 4-5 hours. You will need to spend at least one night in that area and spend two full days to get an idea of this incredible zone.
Interestingly, the existence of Meteora is not mentioned by any ancient source. The first accounts for these giant rock formations come with the arrival of monks, during the 9th-10th century CE that selected this area as a monastic center.
There are many theories and stories about how these massive rock formations were created but none has been fully proven. According to geologists, Meteora was once the estuary of a large river. Stones and matter from the northern parts of Central Europe were brought by the river and came to rest in this area. The current state of these rock formations is a product of millions of years of corrosion, erosion, and seismic activity.
Things to Do
There are various interesting things to do and see in Meteora. Following are the top recommendations:
Hiking in Meteora is no doubt the best way to explore this famous landmark of central Greece. If you are looking for adrenaline rush, then scramble hiking or rock climbing is recommended. On your journey, you may come across the rock forest in the area. It is a majestic landscape with several abandoned monasteries and otherworldly rock formations.
Visit the Six Popular Active Monasteries
Visiting the six active monasteries is the next best thing to do in Meteora. These monasteries were perched on top of the rocks to ensure absolute seclusion and privacy. You can get there via long staircases and bridges. These monasteries are:
1. Roussanou Monastery
2. St. Stephen’s Monastery
3. Varlaam Monastery
4. St. Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery
5. The Holy Trinity Monastery
6. The Great Meteoron Monastery
Visit Theopetra Cave
Situated about 5 kilometers away from Meteora, Theopetra cave can be reached either by rock climbing or by road. The cave is located beneath a giant rock that emerges from the side of the road. It is a popular site where human footprints dating back to thousands of years were discovered.
Stroll Through the Kastraki Village
The charming Kastraki village is located only about a couple of kilometers away from the town of Kalambaka. It’s a typical rural village with alluring alfresco cafes, beautiful churches, narrow alleyways, and stunning views over Meteora.
Visiting Meteora should definitely be on top of your travel list. Make sure to do proper preparation and planning before venturing on this marvelous adventure.
Photos by: Lorenzo Spoleti, Clement Souchet, Toa Heftiba, Fauve Othon, Dorothea Oldani, George Popa, wikipedia