The clouds hung high over our heads and enhanced the appearance of the Meteora Monasteries in an almost sinister fashion. Skies were dark and the air chilled, but the glory of the Meteora Monasteries shone bright; as if the sun was beaming down like a spotlight. Today I had the pleasure of going on a spectacular day hike with a great group of old and new friends through the seldom visited region of Meteora, Greece. My time Athens had been fantastic but after the marvels of TBEX and new friends made, it was time for a new journey. I’m not going to find the freedom by getting fat eating Gyros in Athens now am I?

Getting to Meteora

Meteora sits just outside the town of Kalampaka. If you want to visit the Meteora Monasteries you will most likely take the train from Athens to Kalampaka. The other option is the bus, but the train is far more comfortable and was the choice yours truly made to make my way to this hidden gem. Check the train times on the trainos website here. Have a look on the visitmeteora website for more detailed info on bus and train schedules. I paid 39 euro for a return ticket with the plan to stay 3 nights in Kalampaka. I have been here for 2 nights already, and I could easily stay more.

Let the Meteora Monasteries mission begin

The van rolled up to my hotel this morning at 8:30am sharp, the exact meeting time that our hosts had scheduled the night before. We all hopped in and away we went to the base of what would be a not too challenging day hike to see series of epic Meteora Monasteries. When the group assembled, we had the first glimpse of our 2 fantastic guides. These guys were really great and highly recommend.

 

Let’s meet our guides

George – I never saw George without a smile on his face. Although it was dark and skies were grey, he still rocked a pair of aviators, and I now I don’t think I could picture him any other way. He had a certain fire in step and was well versed on the history of the area, and what life was like back in the day in the Meteora Monasteries. He would lead charge on this trip and I was in good hands.

George of Visit Meteora

Lazarso – An outdoorsman through and through. His passion lay in rock climbing and I would have trusted him with my life. Basically he was the Greek Bear Grylls. If I were to guess his second passion it would be mushrooms. The chance arose to walk with him for a while on our Meteora Monasteries mission. At a moments notice he would suddenly stop, look at me with a grin ear to ear, and point out a mushroom. He would first say whether it was poisonous or not, if the latter fell true he would remove his special mushroom knife and cut it form the base, then use the attached mushroom brush to clean the dirt before dropping into a bag filled with his previously foraged findings.

Lazardo of Visit Athens meteora monasteries

Hiking to the Great Meteora Monastery

After we had our briefing we hit the trail. The terrain wasn’t too intense and would be great for anyone and all abilities. Along the way I didn’t find myself out of breath once, which surprised me after an extended time of inactivity. We passed many meteora monasteries. At the peak of their existence there were 24 in total, now 6 remain.

meteora monasteries

Meteora Monasteries were built atop massive rocks many meters tall. This was so the monks that lived within could hide the persecution they faced. These impressive structures took centuries to build. Monks would begin the building process and their prodigy would take over. This would continue until completion. Check out some more history of the Meteora Monasteries on the UNESCO site here.

meteora monasteries

The pinnacle of all the Meteora Monasteries is the Great Meteora Monastery itself in all its glory. We arrived here after a brisk 9km stroll. This place was insane. We walked in through a rock tunnel and up a switchback staircase. Once inside, I just marveled at what I saw. There were paintings and statues from 1500’s, old pottery and kitchen items that dated back centuries before, and a recreated wine room that left a thirst in my mouth. The views were unbelievable, but the highlight of all highlights was the old chapel. Unfortunately cameras were not allowed inside but that just means you must bring yourself to the Great Meteora Monastery to marvel at its beauty in person.

meteora monasteries wine room

An evening drive in the hills of the Meteora Monasteries

After the hike and a wonderful lunch we took a photo tour of the area. This whole region is just unreal and the views and scenery we saw were mind blowing. Meteora Monasteries are one of a kind and have to be seen to be believed. Meteora is in a league of it’s own when it comes to epic Monasteries on massive cliffs. At one particular stop there were some cave houses embedded in the cliffs that slightly reminded me of my time spent in Capadoccia, Turkey. As opposed to describe it all, I will now add some pictures below to sum up what I saw. If you are ever in Greece this is an easy little trip and well worth it, a hidden gem indeed. If you have been to any Meteora Monasteries leave a note and let me know what you thought!

My friend Rob made a great video of our trip to the Meteora Monasteries while we were there, I make an appearance and this should give you a better idea of how our time was.

 

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Full disclosure: This trip was provided on behalf of the fantastic people at visitmeteora. That said, everything is of my own experience and written personally.

4 Responses

  1. Tathagata

    Fantastic! Reminds me of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka, where the ruins of a 5th century CE palace sits on top of a massive 200 meter high natural rock tower with breathtaking views!

    • Alex

      Thats awesome I will have to check it out! I’m hoping to be in Sri Lanka in the spring sometime, thanks for reading!

  2. Norman

    You’ll see pictures of these monasteries all over the place. Pinterest and tumblr are full of them. Thx for adding a story – the internet really needs that.

    (PS: I usually activate my camera, turn of sounds and just let it hang around my neck…that way you can land a snap-shot even when taking pictures isn’t permited.)
    Norman recently posted…Things to do in Oslo – Spending 3 days in Norway’s CapitalMy Profile

    • Alex

      Thats a good call! I have put tape over the light on my gopro to make it more stealth too!