In Meteora, the physical and spiritual worlds communicate with each other and seem interconnected. They are located on the northwestern border of the Thessalian plain and host two million visitors annually. The history and geology of Meteora are the two reasons why visitors prefer them. It seems that the epitome of the beauty of nature, meets religion and the spiritual world, giving to each visitor the opportunity to explore every aspect of them.
In addition to the activities that someone can carry out at any destination, in Meteora you can experience the beauty of the natural world in a variety of unique activities. One of the most ideal ways to experience the unique beauty of Meteora is, walking. Following the words of a local guide writer, «the slow pace of the walker gives him the opportunity to get to know the world around him, where a flower, a rock or a monk standing on a high balcony understand quite differently. Only by following the footsteps of the holy people in the past, up to the 11th century – away from the crowds of tourists, can one experience a different aspect of Meteora».
The surface of the rocks may seem intimidating, but in reality walking in the area is not a difficult task. Most trails in Meteora can entertain the whole family. Hiking is the only way to observe impressive rock formations and the shaping of strange patterns from a closer distance. Choose a path, such as the one from the old town of Kalabaka to the monastery of Holy Trinity (Agia Triada), or the one that leads you to the ruins of old monasteries, as you enter the village of Kastraki. For an unforgettable experience, avoid the crowd, choose a good guide and do not forget your camera!
Meteora is an ideal destination for climbers, too. The first people who climbed the rocks were the shepherds who asked for protection for their sheep. Consequently, the first individual monks found refuge and spiritual isolation in these caves. In 1958, a tobacco ad fascinated Dietrich Hasse, a German physicist and alpine climber, who was thrilled by the impressive rocks used as the background of the ad.
During a visit to Meteora in 1975 with the photographer Heinz Lothaz Stutte and other German climbers, he discovered that he would become the first professional climber to climb them. With his colleagues, they reached the tops of all the rocks, except of those where the monasteries are located. Small notebooks in cans were placed on the tops of all the rocks, where the achievements of the first climbers were recorded, including the design of all their long routes. Following this tradition, the climbers, still up to today, record their names and the dates of the climbing missions that take place.
Most local climbers start around Easter. However, the Mediterranean weather allows for two major climbing seasons which are the most popular, from April to June and from September to November (always depending on weather conditions). In summer, you could always choose climbing routes on the most shaded rocks. To avoid the heat, the northern and western parts of the rocks are usually ideal from 5 a.m. until 11 a.m. and from 4 p.m. until 8 pm, around sunset. Double checking the weather forecast will always save you from trouble! Finally, keep in mind that there are no climbing routes on the rocks where monasteries are located, following an agreement between the local monks/nuns and the first climbers, to respect the privacy of the monastic community.
Under the shadow of the impressive rocks of Meteora, the river Ionas, a tributary of the Pinios, flows. Rafting in Ionas is an impressive river descent, in a unique, natural landscape. Whether you are a fan of water sports or a beginner in rafting, this is really an adventure with a lot of fun. The easy river makes this activity suitable even for families with children from 8 years old.
If you decide to visit the prehistoric cave of Theopetra, you will experience a unique and rare experience. This particular attraction is the latest addition to the points of interest in the region and has only been opened since 2009! Being such a new sight, it is relatively unknown to most visitors coming to Meteora, but nevertheless it is one of the most interesting. The reason for this is the fact that the cave of Theopetra brings you in contact with the origin of humanity in Greece, with visible evidence that people used to live there 130,000 years ago. The cave of Theopetra is only 4 km away from Meteora and it is a sight you shouldn’t miss.
In Meteora, however, you will not be able to be satisfied only with the enjoyment of the natural landscape. Naturally, the majesty of the setting easily elicits spiritual pursuits. One of the top things to do in this place is to visit the impressive monasteries that are situated on rocky boulders, without easy access to the top, or not? The truth is that they seem inaccessible, and that was the original purpose. These monasteries were built by monks who sought isolation, so building on a rock that requires ropes, ladders and great strength in the upper body to reach there, the number of visitors or violators is certainly reduced. Today, the stairs and bridges make it easier for travelers to cross, but there were times when every visitor had to earn his entrance.
Meteora is also the ideal destination to take a trip back in time and discover some of the brightness and magnificence of the Byzantine Empire. The best way to do this is to sit in on a monastery on Sunday and, during the service, you will realize that you have just made a trip back to the Byzantine Period. Note that many monasteries were originally founded during the reign of the Byzantine Empire. The appealing Byzantine hymns, the absence of artificial lighting, the priests dressed in elegantly decorated Byzantine fabrics, the church walls decorated with frescoes that date back to the centuries, the candles and the smell of incense, create an imposing mystical atmosphere full of images from the Byzantine Tradition of the Orthodox Church. Be sure to arrive at the monastery of your choice early in the morning, as the service begins at approximately 5:30 a.m. and ends at 08:30 a.m.
To sum up, whether you choose to relax enjoying the natural beauty or participate in a variety of unique activities, Meteora will enchant you. Some destinations may look dreamy in the photos, but when you get there, it is a little disappointing. Meteora is just the opposite, according to their visitors: «It was even more fascinating than I had imagined… and it was a place where every time I looked around I thought, is this place real? »
For those who plan a trip to Meteora, give yourself at least 3 to 7 days to experience it properly – it mainly depends on the type of activities you choose. However, whatever the time frame of your escape is, it is certain that you will not see enough and we will wait for you to visit us again.