A day trip to Meteora: a journey to another world
At 230 kilometers from Thessaloniki lies a place that symbolizes the impressive history of the Byzantine Empire: Meteora. The building of the monasteries, which are nowadays still visible, started in the second half of the fourteenth century. But a few centuries earlier, the area was already inhabited by monks who had been driven away from other places. There they lived in caves, in complete seclusion. With a visit to the Meteora you get a glimpse of their centuries-long complete dedication.
The trip to Meteora
Starting from Thessaloniki it is a little more than two and a half hours by car to the Meteora. This may seem like quite a long time, but on the way you are already treated to special views. You drive largely past the Olympus, yet another pride of Greece. The peaks of the highest mountain of the country are almost always hidden in the clouds. And when they show up, they are – sometimes even in the summer – covered with a layer of snow. Already the car drive is a treat for your eyes.
At the foot of the impressive steep rock formations lies the small town of Kalambaka. When you enter Kalambaka, the monasteries on the tops of the jagged rocks are already looming before you. Seeing this from below already gives a mysterious touch to the landscape. You can only guess at what it will look like up there. Make a stop in Kalambaka for a drink or a snack.
Meteora: floating between heaven and earth
Once at the top, time seems to have stopped. At your own pace you go on a discovery voyage, from monastery to monastery. Your camera is working overtime. The idea that the monks spend their lives here in voluntary isolation arouses as much surprise as admiration. Meteora means ‘floating between heaven and earth’ and that perhaps describes your feelings the best.
During the heyday there were twenty-four monasteries in the Meteora. The monks formed an autonomous community in this sacred nature area. The six still remaining monasteries are now on the UNESCO World Heritage List and are still in use. You can explore this beautiful area on foot, but also drive from monastery to monastery. You park close to the entrance and only need to walk a short distance.
Tips for visiting the Meteora
When you visit, keep in mind that you have to walk a lot of stairs to enter the monasteries. The entrance fee for each monastery is three euros per person. Bare shoulders and knees are not allowed and women are not allowed to wear long trousers. So if possibly take a shawl or use the cloths that are provided there free of charge.
Do you have time left for excursions outside the city during your visit to Thessaloniki? Then do not let this opportunity pass you by. A visit to Meteora is a unique experience!