Now who’s ever heard of a place called Meteora?? I certainly hadn’t and didn’t have a clue about this place until I reached there. But the minute I entered Kalambaka, a town that is situated at the foothills of Meteora, it was definitely a sight to behold; a sight which makes anyone go “Woah, is that for real?” Now before I write any further about this extraordinary looking place, I know I’m jumping straight into one of the destinations from the far end of my euro travels, but this place is still so fresh in my mind and is one of those places that is so under promoted and hardly ever shown anywhere, that I felt I should write at least a little about it.
Greece as we all know is very famous for a lot of things dating back to the Greek empire. Without going into the history too much I bet we know about the Acropolis, if not for anything else. As for the history part, I’ll do a separate post about Athens, Thessoloniki & Delphi at some stage but Meteora definitely deserves a head start and I’d love for people to know about it. Because when anyone talks about Greece all they mention is about Santorini & Mykonos islands, both of which are atleast 4-6hrs boat ride from Athens. While they are definitely beautiful in their own ways and more of a party central loaded with a lot of ‘single’ people from across the world, they don’t really have a wow factor as much as the Monasteries of Meteora ! Or may be am just too old (or rather wise) to be enjoying a Monastery over the Greek Islands..
So what is meteora?
“The Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second in importance only to Mount Athos. The six monasteries are built on immense natural pillars and hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area”Wikipedia, 2018
To get to Meteora, the town of Kalambaka is the gateway. Dad & I were travelling with a group and we ‘bus’ed our way into Kalambaka from Gjirokaster, Albania. It was about a 4-5hrs ride and as soon as we arrived we checked straight into the hotel. When we got into the room and open the curtains, what do we see? Lo & behold… The giant monolithic rocks of Meteora, literally in our backyard…almost !! Here’s a glimpse..
After resting up for a bit, we headed out to grab a bite that evening and strolled around the main street of Kalambaka. It is literally about 400 meters from one end to the other and filled with take away joints, handful of decent pubs and lots of souvenir stores. We devoured a couple of Gyros [pronounced Euros] and headed back to crash early for the night. We were excited about what lied in store for us the next day.
Monasteries of meteora
The next morning did arrive and our excitement only grew further as we made our way up those giant rocks, on the bus. The higher we got the more breathtaking the monasteries on these unworldly boulders started to look. I’ll try and keep my words to a minimum but instead share some real useful info so you can take a look at it yourselves. I found probably the best YOUTUBE video that’s out there as well as the best information WEBSITE to dig deeper yourselves.
Personally for me these monasteries were just incredible. To actually fathom the fact that some monks decided to build monasteries on top of these 1300ft cliffs/rocks and about a 1000 years ago, was unreal. Of the 6 monasteries at these sites, we visited 2 of them in detail on the inside – Monastery of Great Meteoron and the Monastery of Varlaam. Both equally better than the other and sitting as high as 1200 or so ft above. Dad and I clicked numerous pics as expected but none of the pics could do any justice to what you can actually witness. And by the way here’s a fun fact too – The monastery of Holy Trinity was a filming location in the 1981 James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only
And by the way here’s a fun fact too – The monastery of Holy Trinity was a filming location in the 1981 James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only.
After spending a good handful of hours up at the top we made our way back into the town of Kalambaka to grab some lunch. With lunch I mean Gyros. Whenever you are in Greece/Macedonia or Albania, Gyros tend to be the most staple food throughout. And add to that the bizzarely named “Vergina” beer, the lunch is bound to get exotic. Am not making it up, here’s the proof. I’ve infact clicked all the beers I’ve had throughout my trip.
Anyway let me wind up this post here. It’s unfortunate that Meteora is not promoted as much as it deserves to be. Apart from a handful of posters that can be found in some touristy places in Athens I didn’t come across this anywhere throughout my Europe trip. It does list very high on tripadvisor, although you’ve got to look for it. Regardless, if Greece is ever on your list of travels make sure Meteora is a part of it. It’s something you’d not regret. Even better if you could head up there for a sunrise or a sunset. Oh btw, here’s my Facebook Post & Pics in case it tickles your fancy and yes some pics below as well.
Righto ! That’s it for now.. Ciao everyone !