A place beyond imagination – Meteora, Greece

Posted by on September 22, 2012

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There are trips that are real discoveries. Fascinating places that go beyond imagination and you never thought that really exist. Sometimes they are just around the corner and do not need to be Indiana Jones to visit them. One of those places is Meteora in Greece. We are in the north of Greece, on the plain of Thessaly, near the town of Kalambaka. Symbol of the Orthodox Church and the thirst for peace and solitude, the Meteora is becoming (unfortunately?) a tourist destination and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Meteora, Greece

Meteora, Greece

View from monastery

View from monastery

It was enough to catch a flight to Thessaloniki, where I rented a car directly at airport exit. So I drove for about two hours through Thessaly. When I arrived in Meteora, I was “suspended” for a while. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Meteora means “suspended in air” and is characterized by the presence of those magic towering rocks (sandstone cliffs), that defy logic geological and geophysical surveys. The morphology depends on the erosion of the sandstone. Shaped by wind and water, the giant stones seem alive. You feel almost observed. A small Guilin, for those familiar with southern China, a small Tibet, if we dare even higher because the real attraction of this  Supernatural place are the monasteries (and meteors) that are set on the top of the rocks.

Monastery on the rock

Monastery on the rock

Another monastery

Another monastery

Built with madness over the cliffs, it makes you dizzy just looking at them from afar. Of the 24 original monasteries, the ones who are still working and can be visited are: Agios Stefanos, Agia Triada, Great Meteora, Varlaam, Roussanou and Agios Nikolaos. The others are uninhabited and some destroyed. For centuries, the monasteries were reached only by ladders or pulley systems. Now there are stairs carved into the rocks. The climb is challenging but not impossible and the rise of mass tourism (lots of buses) is creating chaos on the rocks. In almost all of them there is a room for the “shopping” souvenirs. The entrance to the monasteries is free of charge. Women must wear towels to cover the bare legs or pants otherwise won’t be accepted by the monks. For its unique rocks, Meteora is also a popular destination for climbers from all over the world.

Meteora's cliffs

Meteora’s cliffs

Sunset in Meteora

Sunset in Meteora

Despite the cumbersome tourism business that runs around the area, you can breathe an atmosphere of intense spirituality with a tendency to isolate yourself to gaze in silence almost threatening the depth of Nature. You can stop by the roadside and find your favorite rock and ruins to look at for hours!

Meteora rocks

Meteora rocks

Don't look down!!

Don’t look down!!

 

Meteora photos: Rondone Romano

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