In northern Greece, on the plain of Thessaly, near the mythical town of Kalambaka, it stand the remains of an ancient monastic community inhabited since the fourteenth century, at a height of over 300 meters, known as Meteora. These impressive buildings are perched on top of a cliff created by the action of the sea for more than 30 million years.
The first inhabitants of the area were hermits who lived in caves just to feel closer to the Creator. Three centuries later, in the fourteenth century, the first monasteries were founded due to the increasing Turkish and Albanian incursions into Greece. The monks began to seek safer havens and inaccessible. At first, you could only reach the monastery through removable stairs, then a kiddle was used to carry the monks and steps carved into the rock.
The first was the Megalou Meteórou, or Monastery of the Transfiguration, which is also the most important and highest of which have survived until today, located at 415 meters above sea level.
It houses a Byzantine-style church which features the relics of its founder and some precious frescoes that tell the persecutions suffered by Christians. It was followed by many others, for a total of 24 monasteries in the fifteenth century.
Currently, it is possible to visit just 6 of them, since the rest were destroyed by German troops during World War II. All contain a great number of religious objects accumulated over centuries and they have a similar distribution around a central courtyard surrounded by the monks’ cells, chapels and the refectory, but perhaps, the most impressive thing are the views of one of the weirdest natural sites in the world and the opportunity to observe the mysterious hermits’ lifes.
The visit can be done from the nearby town of Kalambaka, but there are strict rules regarding dress. Men must dress long trousers and women, skirts to the ankles and the absolute silence it is also necessary. It is not allowed to take pictures inside and the price of admission is two euros each. It is advisable to take into account the visitation schedule, typically around noon.
To stay and eat, one of the best options is the neighboring town of Kastraki, with hotels and inns of all types and restaurants to taste the traditional Greek cuisine.