CLIFFTOP MONASTERIES OF METEORA, GREECE
|Caves and Fissures used by 9th Century Hermits|
|Monastery of the Holy Trinity|
Best Times to Go: The Monasteries of Meteora may be visited year round but the weather is wet and cool from December to March. Crowds and high season rates are guaranteed from July 1st to October 15th . May and June are the best months for comfortable weather, low season rates and the opportunity to leisurely explore the area.
Getting There: Buses to Kalampaka are available from Ioannina, Trikala, Thessaloniki and Athens. It is also possible to take the train from Thessaloniki or Athens with a switch at Larissa. If you are traveling from Athens, take a morning train so that you can enjoy the spectacular scenery as you pass through the mountains between Livadia and Lamia.
Clothing/Gear: Appropriate clothing is required to visit the monasteries. Sleeveless clothing and shorts are prohibited. Skirts and shawls are available at the entrance for those who are deemed to be unacceptably dressed (including guys wearing shorts and tanktops).
|Grand Meteoron Courtyard|
The Greek National Tourist Organization produces a brochure entitled "Greece: Thessalia Meteora" which lists several A, B and C class hotels in Kalampaka as well as their telephone numbers. Unlisted are many D and E class hotels, domatia and campsites. A listing can be obtained from the local Tourist Police located near the bus station (Hatzipetrou 10, Kalampaka Tel: 2432022813, 2432022109). Hotel rooms in the A,B and C classes cost about $50-$100 per night for a double in the high season and about a third less in the low season.
The village of Kastraki is closer to the monasteries and convenient for those who want to visit by foot but there are more options for food and lodging in Kalampaka.
- Plan to spend a full day at Meteora. You will delight in the play of light on the rocks and their changing moods. On sunny mornings, the red roof tiles of the monasteries glisten in sharp contrast to the weather-stained grayness of the rocks while the late afternoon sun bathes the landscape with a golden glow. At nighttime, the rocks are dramatically illuminated by spotlights while autumnal mists shroud them in an ethereal mysteriousness that must have appealed to the hermits and monks who sought refuge from the things of the world.
- Explore the paths between the rock towers but be careful because they are not all intact and some scrambling over uneven ground is required.
- Acquaint yourself with Greek Orthodoxy. It will enhance your appreciation of the Churches and Monasteries of Meteora and their valuable displays of Byzantine art. There are volunteers at the Church of the Transfiguration who will explain the rich tradition of Byzantine iconography.
- Remember to carry bottled water, especially if you are visiting the monasteries by foot. There are refreshment vendors along the road by the monasteries but their prices are excessive.
- Greece: A Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit by David Willett, Rosemary Hall, Paul Hellander and Kerry Kenihan provides excellent general travel information on Greece. They also provide food and lodging recommendations for small villages like Kastraki.
- Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece by Patrick Leigh Fermor is one of the best travel books written about Northern Greece. "The Monasteries of the Air" is a chapter that should be read before visiting Meteora but it is likely that you will want to read the book in its entirety.
- Monasteries of Greece by Chris Hellier is a lavish "coffee table" book with a chapter on Meteora. It features beautiful photographs with an interesting text. It also has a wonderful chapter on Mt. Athos, the preeminent monastic community that is closed to women and allows only restricted visitation by non-Orthodox men.