Meteora is the geological wonder of immense rocks that were created and shaped by different natural forces. It is believed that the rocks were formed around 60 million years ago, and for quite some time the nature of their existence was a mystery. In 1988 Meteora was placed in the UNESCO world heritage list which made the area globally famous. These rocky giants are surrounded by mesmerizing natural landscape which makes this place a perfect location for exploring and hiking activities. What makes these “columns of the sky” even more beautiful, are the 6 majestic monasteries placed at the very top of each column. The monasteries were built by monks centuries ago with the purpose to find inner peace and spiritual elevation. The rich cultural history that monasteries hold, make Meteora tour the unique combination of adventurous and learning activities. That is the reason why we suggest visiting Meteora and treating yourself with perfect soul sanctuary.
What to do in Meteora
Meteora is the perfect destination for outdoor activities such as climbing and hiking. There are different ways in which you can reach the top of the rocks. For the adventurous type we suggest going through the off road paths that were used by monks in the past and are only known to locals. This way you can truly experience the area and get an authentic tour.
Don’t worry, there are proper roads and stairs leading to the top which makes the monasteries highly accessible, even little kids can climb it. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the magical sunset from the top of Meteora! One of the offered hiking tours ends just before the golden hour begins which gives you enough time to find a nice place to sit down and watch the sun set on the horizon between the rocks.
If you decide to visit Meteora during summer you can gather friends and go rafting on the local river for additional adrenaline rush. Another fun way to enjoy your stay is to go mountain biking through thrilling paths in the area.
Meteora monasteries represent the second most important orthodox establishment in Greece, right after the Mount Athos. The rich history that monasteries hold dates back in 14th century when the Great Meteoron Monastery was established. Monasteries were built at the top of the rocks in order to preserve the history and holy property from the Ottoman era. At first there were 24 monasteries each less accessible than the other. Today 6 great monasteries remained which are completely preserved and are in use. In the early days transportation of monks and goods was done by ladders, ropes and baskets that were put down to the foothill. The old tale says that monks only changed the rope once it breaks. Another legend says that the rope would only break if the monk was not a true believer.
The oldest of the six monasteries is Megalou Meteorou based on the highest ground of the longest rock. This astonishing monastery holds a folklore museum built in 1452 that grasps tourists’ attention because of its collection of preserved old tools and appliances. You must see the church of Transfiguration of Jesus and the Holy Altair and witness the great masterpiece of the past.
During winter period (1st of November -31st of March) the monastery is open for visit every day, except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 9:00 to 15:00.
During summer period (1st of April- 31st of October) the monastery is open for visit every day except Tuesdays, from 9:00 to 17:00
Aghios Stefanos monastery’s landmark is the small same named single aisled church built back in 1350. The church, now named Aghios Charalampos is widely known for its impressive fretworks and artistic ornaments. The holy altar of the church was well preserved during time and eventually turned into museum holding rare ornaments such as scripts, fabrics decorated with gold, icons dating from Byzantine time and many more admirable things.
The monastery is open during winter period from 9:30 to 13:00 and 15:00 to 17:00 every day but Mondays.
During summer period the monastery is open from 9:00 to 13:30 and 15:30 to 17:30 every day but Mondays.
The Varlaam monastery was established by the monk Varlaam in the 14th century. The largest part of the monastery is dedicated to Agious Pantes and it is decorated with beautiful paintings by Fragko Katelano. In the beginning of 17th century Meteora’s bibliographic laboratory and workshops for decorating cloths with gold were operating on the monastery’s ground.
During winter period opening hours are from 9:00 to 15:00, the monastery is closed on Thursdays and Fridays.
During summer period opening hours are from 9:00 to 16:00 every day except for Fridays.
Agia Triada (Holy Trinity)
It is not surely known when the monastery was founded, but according to scripts from potentate Simeon Ouresi- Paleologou the monastery was functioning in the 1362. As the rest of the monasteries the Agia Triada will also mesmerize your mind with its folklore museum and the old historic appliance it holds.
The monastery is open in the winter period every day, except Thursdays from 9:00 to 16:00.
In the summer period the monastery is open every day except Thursdays from 9:00 to 17:00.
This magnificent monastery was built on the remains of past remaining constructions. The artwork on the walls of the church of Transfiguration of Jesus will leave you speechless. It is believed that the frescoes are painted by the members of famous Cretan Art School. The believers in the monastery celebrate with strong devotion the legacy of Aghia Varvara in a close chapel every 4th of December.
You can visit this beautiful monastery every day but Wednesdays from 9:00 to 14:00 during winter period.
During summer period the monastery is closed on Wednesdays but is open for visit during the rest of the week from 9:00 to 17:00.
Aghios Nikolaos Panausas
Along with the rest, Aghios Nikolaos Panausas monastery is the valuable jewel of Meteora. It is located close to the charming Kastraki village. The monastery is built in several levels and holds the most astonishing collection of frescoes painted by famous Theofanis the Cretan in the 14th century. It goes without saying that this monastery is definitely worth visiting.
The monastery is open for visitors in the winter period from 9:00 to 16:00 every day except for Fridays. And during summer period it is open from 8:00 to 17:00 every day but Fridays.
Trip to Meteora cannot go without a visit to Kalambaka, a town of population of 12,000 people, located in the very foot of the rocks. This town is hosting tourists all year around and provides cosy accommodation for people that are mesmerized by the beauty of the area and decide to prolong their stay. Kalambaka also has a variety of interesting sights to offer such as remains of ancient Greek temple, along with beautiful old churches that date all the way back to 10th century. City’s main attractions are the narrow downtown streets built on cobble-stones surrounded by traditional Greek houses. As is the case with every town in Greece, Kalambaka is also filled with traditional tavernas waiting for you to enjoy them. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the traditional pitas that are authentic only for this area. Insider’s tip- the homemade pitas always go well together with local yogurt!
Oh and yes, don’t even think about leaving Kalambaka without trying spatoula- a local authentic sweet pudding.
Local sights that are worth seeing
Even though the Meteora itself and Kalambaka are the most attention driving attractions, there are other exciting sights that are worth visiting. One of them is a charming town of Kastraki that exudes with Greek culture and style. Kastraki is a local secret spot that not many know of, thus it is more quiet and calm than Kalabaka.
Another breathtaking sight that falls in the category of must see is the Theopetra Cave that holds the archaeological wonders that are believed to be over 130,000 years old. These remains represent one of the oldest man-made constructions in Europe.
Our final advice to you is to stop wasting any more time and start planning your visit to Meteora! We guarantee you will have a great time, enjoy the breathtaking sights and have pictures for which everyone will envy you.