The Hanging Monasteries of Meteora, Central Greece

 

St. Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery

 

In the centre of Greece, lies a breathtaking sight. Driving along the central plain, southwest from Mount Olympus, one unexpectedly comes across dramatic rock formations, towering out of the ground, rising towards the heavens. And perched on these, are some of the most impressively situated monasteries in the world. This is Meteora, a designated World Heritage Site, and very rightly so.

These monasteries were constructed by monks from the 14th Century, stone by stone, over long periods of time. They had to climb impossibly precipitous, sheer rock faces, hauling up their building materials piecemeal, by rope and basket. It was a labour of love, but one that would provide a lasting legacy to their faith, determination and belief in God.

The landscape feels like a remnant of the Jurassic age, where the rugged outcrops, luxuriant vegetation and ever changing light, make for a staggeringly beautiful landscape. Originally 20 monasteries scattered the tops of these mountains, but now only six remain, five inhabited by monks and one by nuns.

Rousannou Monastery, since 1988 a Convent

One of the best times to visit is early Spring, when the semi-alpine flowers are out and the blossom is prolific on the almond and cherry trees. It’s quieter then, compared to the peak of summer or Easter, when the whole area fills up with coaches, shipping people in from around the world to see these wondrous creations.

This magical landscape will beckon you back, whenever you get the opportunity, etched in your memory and on your SD card. It’s hard to find a place to match it’s drama, beauty and jaw dropping scenery that subtly changes with the time of the day and the seasons, in myriad ways, never the same imprinted memory twice. Few places match up to the hype, but I assure you this will.

The Holy Trinity Monastery (Agia Triada) featured in ‘The Spy who loved me’ Bond movie