One of the most impressive and strange landscapes of Greece, Meteora is an amazing place all year round. Huge dark, vertical rocks, which seem to have been placed there by a huge hand, leave anyone who sees them for the first time with their mouths open with admiration and awe. Both of these feelings are magnified when one considers that these magnificent rocks have been places of asceticism for a thousand years…
Historically, reports place the first ascetics in Meteora during 950 AD. The first ascetics lived in the holes of the rocks and practiced there, while around the middle of the 14th century, the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior, the Great Meteor, was founded and operates to this day. In the period of their greatest prosperity, in Meteora there were about 20 monasteries, male and female, while today, on the tops of the rocks one can see the red tiles of six – now – monasteries, which retain that majestic tradition.
Meteora has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, and all six monasteries in operation today are open to the public. These are the Monastery of Agios Stefanos, the Monastery of Barlaam, the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas, the Great Meteor, the Monastery of Agia Triada and the Monastery of Roussanou. Also to be visited are two more ruined monasteries, the old monastery of Ypapantis and the old monastery of Badova which is built inside the rock. In Meteora, next to a rock, is built the small church of Agios Georgios of Mandila, which every year on its feast is decorated with scarves that are brought by climbers
Until the early decades of the 20th century, monks went up and down monasteries with a system of ropes and nets – the same as they used to transport supplies or materials. Around 1920, however, a system of stairs and tunnels were created that connect the rocks with the neighboring plateau and since then the monasteries are much easier to visit than anyone. Today, the Monastery of Agios Stefanos with a small stone bridge with the road, while to climb the Great Meteoro or the Monastery of Agia Triada, one must climb more than 300 small steps, carved into the rock. Almost half are the steps for the Monasteries of Rousanou, Barlaam and Agios Nikolaos.
All the monasteries are worth visiting for both religious and historical reasons, as there visitors can see valuable relics, historical archives, Byzantine icons, utensils and ecclesiastical objects of past centuries and much more. However, one does not go to Meteora only for reasons of religious faith, as the area gathers both climbing enthusiasts who consider rock climbing to be a supreme challenge and walkers who enjoy an extensive network of trails and hiking trails. Based on the picturesque town of Kalampaka, located at the foot of Meteora, visitors can enjoy the unique landscape and all the activities they prefer.