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Meteora - Impressive and Divine


Meteora

A visit is the experience of a lifetime

The rocky peaks of Meteora loom over the city of Kalambaka, between the Koziaka and Antihasia Mountains. They are a geological phenomenon of unique beauty as well as an important Greek Orthodox monument. Also called the second Mount Athos, Meteora has continued the monastic tradition for some six centuries. Visitors to the region are struck by the impressive majesty of this gigantic rocky complex. The ascetic huts in the cliffs are evidence of the presence of the first monks.

The first monasteries of Meteora were built during the 14th century. Over the years some of these were rebuilt and others were supplemented with major additions and repairs to take their final architectural form. They continue to stand on the tops of the rocks, giving the impression that they are the natural continuation of these geological formations.

In earlier times, the ascent was made with scaffolding secured to beams that were wedged into the cliff-faces, with baskets and nets and later with rope ladders. Today visitors use the steps that have been carved into the rock face, making the ascent to the monasteries safe and easy.

Of the 24 monasteries, six currently function. The remaining 15 are uninhabited and abandoned. The Monasteries of the Transfiguration (Great Meteora), Holy Trinity, Saint Nicholas Anapausas, and Varlaam are male, whereas the Monasteries of Rousanou and Saint Stephen are female. The frescos in the churchs were painted by the monks, priests and important hagiographers of the day. Many bear the marks and damage of vandal invasions and the ravages of time.

However, many treasures, relics and masterpieces of miniature art have been preserved. Visitors can marvel at the icons, the oldest of which are kept in the monasteries’ skeuophylakeia, crucifixes containing relics of the Holy Cross, prelatic scepters, gold-embroidered vestments, manuscripts, and more. Of major historical interest are the more than one thousand manuscripts, codices and priceless post-Byzantine documents that are kept in the monasteries’ archives.

The Convent of Saint Stephan contains the Miraculous Scull of Saint Charalambos, and the Monastery of Varlaam has the Gospel attributed to the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus.

Kalambaka

The city of Kalambaka is built at the foot of the Meteora rocks, on the left bank of the Penios River at the point where it enters the Plain of Thessaly. The town provides a home base for exploring the beautiful regions of Aspropotamos, Hasia, Koziaka and, especially, Meteora. Kalambaka has a rich history and important monuments. In antiquity it was known by the name of Aiginio and later in Byzantine times as Stagoi. The name Kalambaka, as it has been called for the past seven centuries, is a Turkish word meaning “powerful fortress.”
As far as recreation and leisure activities are concerned, Kalambaka offers many cafés, bars and eateries. Be sure to visit the famous local tsipouradika on Vlahava Street – old-fashioned establishments serving the clear, potent grape-distilled tsipouro and mezedes (snacks), and the traditional factories where Farsala halva is made.

INFORMATION

How to get there
Driving. Take the National Road to Trikala via Karditsa or Larissa. Kalambaka is 352 klm from Athens, and 237 klm from Thessaloniki.
By train. There is frequent service from Athens and Thessaloniki to Trikala. From there take the bus to Kalambaka.

Whom to ask
City Hall:
24320 22346, 24444
Tourist Information Bureau:
24320 77734
Police Department:
24320 76500, 76600
Tourist Police:
24320 76100
Citizens Service Center:
24320 77900
Bus Station (KTEL Trikalon):
24310 73130-1
Train Station (OSE Trikalon):
24310 27529, 27214

What to see
• The Monastery of the Holy Cross, located between Doliani and Krania, in the heart of Southern Pindos, 50 klm from Kalambaka.
• The cave of Theopetra, 3 klm outside of Meteora, on the northeastern slope of a rocky limestone mass.
• Dousikos Monastery, at an elevation of 750 meters on the slopes of Mt. Koziaka, which was reestablished between 1527 and 1535.
• The Antihasia-Meteora Mountains, which are an environmentally protected area.
• Mount Koziaka in the region of Acheloos River, also known as Aspropotamos.

Travel / Theodoros Kakavas

I've been preparing a trip to Meteora for some time and to be honest, I can't wait to go there. I've seen a lot of photos and videos about this place and I simply find them outstanding.

Tudor Bran
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