The first time I visited Meteora was in the middle of the 80’s. Our Greek neighbours at Bastugatan in Stockholm came from Trikala not far from Kalampaka and Meteora. I visited them one summer and had the opportunity to walk up to the monasteries. At that time, there were most cars on the road and believers who wanted to visit the monasteries. Back then Kalampaka town was much smaller and the big tourist buses were rare. In this case we decided to explore the area by travelling to Meteora within 24 hours.
The holy rocks
Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries. It consists of 24 monasteries, but only six of them are active today. In a region of almost inaccessible sandstone peaks, monks settled on these ‘columns of the sky’ from the 11th century onwards. Meteora is one of the cultural Unesco world heritage sites in Greece.
In recent years the monasteries has become more popular outside Greece. Compared to earlier years the number of monks has declined considerably and moved to the monasteries of Athos to get their call in peace and quiet. I think that the sunset in the area is wonderfully beautiful and soothing. Don’t miss the spectacular views of the sunset around the holy rocks while you are there, you will remember them forever.
How to get here
Meteora is located in the region of Thessaly in the middle of Greece. The nearest town is Kalampaka and the nearest village is Kastraki. I recommend you to get to Meteora by train, bus or car. By train with trainose.gr from Athens or Thessaloniki. Or by bus with KTEL from every town in Greece, the bus arrives to Trikala which is the nearest city to Kalampaka. We visited this divine place in 24 hours and started our journey from Ioannina. Arrived to Kalampaka in the early afternoon. After one day we left Meteora by bus with wonderful memories and our cameras full of captures.
Great Meteoron Monastery
The Great Meteoron Monastery is by far the biggest one of all. Often mentioned as meteoro which means “suspended in the air”. According to the history of Great Meteoron, Saint Athanasios the Meteorite was the first founder of the monastery.
Holy Monastery of Varlaam
In comparison to the other monasteries Holy Monastery of Varlaam is the second biggest monastery. Resides near the Great Meteoron monastery and was founded in the mid 14th century by the monk Hosios Varlaam. Besides the churches the area consists of several other buildings.
St. Stephen’s Monastery
St. Stephen’s Monastery is the easiest monastery to access, by crossing the small bridge to reach the entrance. It is ideal for visitors who cannot use the steps and yet they wish to have a real experience of a Meteora monastery. The beginning of monastic life on the rock of Agios Stephanos dates back to early in the 12th century.
Saint Nicholas of Anapafsas
Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas of Anapafsas is the first monastery that we see on the way up. Probably founded at the 14th century. There are different stories about how the name came to be Anapafsas. One explanation is that the name comes from the founder of this monastery. The other story is about the position of the monastery. It was probably a resting place for pilgrims on the way up. Resting translates into Greek anapafsis, literally means Saint Nicholas the one who rests you.
Holy Monastery of Roussanou
Holy Monastery of Roussanou has received the name of the first probable hermit who settled on the rock. Decorated by monks in the 16th century. In recent years the monastery became convent after the restoration from the damages of World War II. Actually the nuns have a popular little gift shop in the covent.
Holy Trinity Monastery
By far the most difficult monastery to reach is Holy Trinity Monastery (Agia Triada). Founded as early as 1632. Here at the top of the rock the panoramic view of Kalambaka and Thessaly valley is impressive. In short you follow the pathway to the foot of the rock and walk up the 140 stairs to Holy Trinity. Above all its known to the public because of the final scenes of the film For Your Eyes Only with James Bond.
Note the dresscode for monasteries. For men long pants and for women skirt or dress below the knee.
Our first priority was to see the sunset from the various places with a tour by taxi. Secondly was the tour of the monasteries with Meteora Thrones. In summery we booked both activities with the help from the hotel staff where we stayed. Travel to Meteora in 24 hours is well spend hours and definitely a trip my family never forget. Its popular to come here with a bus tour from Athens or other cities in Greece. Spend several days exploring the valley of Thessaly is actually easy. As you can explore the area hiking, biking, climbing at the rocks among others. To summarise you can schedule your trip in the area with more outdoor activities here.