Greece is among the top tourist destinations for summer holidays. Though it is not just about the beautiful seaside and ancient ruins. Greece is full of magical places worth seeing all-year-long, and one of such unique spots is Meteora.
Rocks, exquisitely carved by wind, look “suspended in the air”. This is how the word “Meteora” is translated from Greek – “middle of the sky”, “in the heavens above”… This place, where you feel closer to God, was chosen by medieval monks in XI century as ideal for solitary and prayer.
In search of spiritual isolation monks settled in natural caves around Theotokos (Mother of God) church, without building any special facilities. Yet, more and more monks were attracted by new holy land, and by the end of XIV century Meteoron monastery on Broad Rock was found. After Turkish invasion many Orthodox had to run away and find a sanctuary from religious persecution, so in three hundred years 23 more stronghold monasteries in Meteora were built, creating a monastic state with its own rules and laws.
Nowadays less than 100 of monks live in six functioning monasteries on the top of high Meteora cliffs. Most of times the doors of these monasteries are open to visitors, monks gladly provide guests with guided tours, telling about historical and religious issues. The complex is also a part of UNESCO World Heritage.
In summer there are buses that take pilgrims up the mountain from the town of Kalabaka, but it winter season visitors have to take a taxi, order a special tour or simply walk along beautiful rocky trails
While in old times monks use to climb the cliffs, use dangerous wooden ladders or special cable cars, now only alpinists and James Bond climb the rocks of Meteora, and the cable cars are used mostly for transporting goods into the monasteries. Visitors can follow the fine stone stairs and enjoy the view from up to 366 meters.
The entrance fee to each monastery is 2 euro, but Greek citizens can come to any of the monasteries for free. As in Orthodox tradition the dress code requires to look modestly, no shoulders or legs visible. Moreover female can get a big apron at the entrance to put it over their shorts and jeans.
The atmosphere of the place is hardly transmitted through the words of photos, it is worth seeing despite prejudice and religious believes because it is not only about religion but about the union of human spirit and nature.