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If you’ve spent time in Greece, you have undoubtedly heard of Meteora. If not, let me tell you—Meteora is one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever visited. These giant rock pillars are unique to Greece, unlike anything else on Earth.
In the heart of north-central Greece resides one of the most breathtaking monasteries in Europe. It is 1,027 feet above sea level in cliffs high above the surrounding landscape. But why would you travel halfway across the world to see this gorgeous holy trinity monastery?
- About Meteora – The Holy Monasteries of Meteora
- The Origins of Meteora Monasteries
- Meteora Monasteries Today
- About Roussanou Monastery
- Things to do in Meteora, Greece
- What is the best time of year to visit the Meteora monasteries?
- How many monasteries are there in Meteora?
- Do I need a permit to hike in Meteora?
- How long does it take to hike between the monasteries?
About Meteora – The Holy Monasteries of Meteora
Meteora is a group of six monasteries built on natural sandstone pillars in central Greece. The famous Meteora monasteries are built on top of sandstone pillars in central Greece. Meteora is about 9 km southwest of Kalambaka or about 90 km west of Thessaloniki.
It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and has been described as “one of the most spectacular religious sites in Europe.” Meteora is derived from the Greek words meta (meaning beyond) and oros (mountain). It was also known as “the rocks.”
The monasteries were built between the 14th and 16th centuries to avoid persecution by the Ottoman Turks, who controlled much of what is now northern Greece at that time.
Today, you can visit some or all seven active monasteries: Great Meteoron, Agia Triada (Holy Trinity), Varlaam Monastery, Agios Georgios Vrondates, Agias Trias Monastery, Roussanou Monastery, and Megalo Meteoro.
The Origins of Meteora Monasteries
Meteora is one of Greece’s most important complexes of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It dates back to 1545 and has a history predating many villages in Greece.
Its founders were monks looking for a political haven during the tumultuous times of the day. They successfully escaped the woes and perils they faced by choosing a prime location to stay huddled up without fear of invasion.
The origins of Meteora’s monasteries are a bit of a mystery. The first monks who lived in these areas were hermit monks and anchorites searching for more isolated places to practice their faith.
However, as more people came to live here, they started building the famous rock-top monasteries of Meteora that you see today and created them with great care. There’s evidence that some of them were made by master builders using ropes and other climbing equipment.
Meteora Monasteries Today
Today, all the monasteries of Meteora remain active. Roussanou is still open for visitors and continues to welcome pilgrims worldwide who come to worship at this significant site.
As one of the largest monasteries in holy Meteora and one of the most important in all of Greece, Roussanou symbolizes ancient Greek Orthodoxy and modern-day spirituality.
About Roussanou Monastery
Roussanou is the most important and beautiful example of Byzantine architecture in Meteora, Greece. This stunning holy monastery features gorgeous frescoes and icons that famous artists painted.
It was built on top of a steep rock, with its original foundation constructed in 1333 AD by monks banished from Constantinople to protect them from Turkish oppression. The monastery’s name means “of the forest” or “in the forest,” which refers to how it was built inside a forested area.
This great Meteoron monastery is considered one of the most important Christian pilgrimage sites in Europe and one of the most photographed monasteries in Greece due to its stunning views and beautiful architecture.
Its architectural design features three churches set upon two levels—one level below ground level and another above ground level—and features a cross shape from above or below.
For visitors looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Meteora is the perfect place to visit. Any individual interested in the rich history of monasteries and how they came into existence will find a trip to Meteora exhilarating and life-changing. The true gem of the complex is, by far, this holy trinity monastery.
This holy trinity monastery is believed to have been named after a monk known for being elusive and introverted. One must look at the great Meteoron monastery to understand why a hermit would love to reside there.
It would be best to traverse a wooden panel bridge from another peak to reach this impressive building. Once there, you will find it was well worth the effort.
The view alone offers a picture forever etched in your memory. If you arrive early in the morning, you may experience slight fog that falls over the valley as you heroically stand above it. Once you reach the interior of the building, you will be greeted by nuns who now run the Church.
You will find gorgeous wall paintings, wooden iconostasis, and icon stands, all of which comprise the religious items celebrated and worshiped in the complex.
Things to do in Meteora, Greece
In addition to the rich history and breathtaking views surrounding the Meteora area, there are other activities to enjoy during your visit. Rock climbing is extremely popular in this location due to the unique rocks the monastery was built on.
Of course, you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy this sport. Trainers and coaches offer beginner classes to get your footing before climbing tall rock formations.
Whether you are a world traveler looking for locations rich in history to see in your lifetime or an avid Orthodox Church member, the holy trinity monastery of Meteora is a location you cannot miss.
And there you have it, a quick peek into one of Greece’s most beautiful places. If you ever have a chance to visit Meteora, don’t miss your chance to see this incredible sight. I know I’ll never forget it.
What is the best time of year to visit the Meteora monasteries?
The best time of year to visit the Meteora monasteries is spring or autumn. The weather is milder during these times, and there are fewer crowds.
How many monasteries are there in Meteora?
There are currently six functioning monasteries in Meteora. Of these, four are open to visitors.
Do I need a permit to hike in Meteora?
No, you do not need a permit to hike in Meteora. However, it is recommended that you purchase a map of the area before beginning your hike.
How long does it take to hike between the monasteries?
The time it takes to hike between the monasteries will vary depending on your fitness level and the route you take. However, most hikes can be completed in half a day.
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.