Holy Meteora: A Greek Monastery In The Mountains

What is the Holy Meteora?

It had never crossed my mind that one day I might visit a monastery in the greek mountains near the town of Kalabaka, where a handful of monks live, but it it did happen on a day out from Parga to the Holy Meteora.

Meteora refers to a group of rock formations, it happens to be the largest archaeological site in Greece and a UNESCO world heritage site.

I would have had no idea what ‘pantaloons’ were!!

Holy Meteora views

Location-wise of the monastery is something you really have to see in person to fully appreciate it’s vastness and beauty, the views of the giant rocks against a mountainous back drop are simply awe-inspiring and a photographers paradise.

The rock formations were like nothing I’d ever seen in real life, and reminded me (a little bit) of pictures I’ve seen of the Grand Canyon.

Life in the Meteora

It’s truly amazing to think that people live up there with nothing but magnificent views and tranquility, no rush hour traffic Β or noisy neighbours, just a deeper connection with themselves, nature and pure peace.

I imagine that when there’s a rain or snow storm the views must be spectacular.

The roads leading up to this area are often inaccessible when the snow is bad – so I guess they need to stock up on all essential supplies before the winter hits in case they can’t get out.

There is a similar building in sight (on another rock) where nuns live; the monks’ nearest neighbours I guess!

The nunnery across the way

A few rules and requirements

You cannot enter the monastery with arms showing, they must be covered up – men cannot wear shorts and ladies legs must not be revealed in shape or flesh. You will be given a type of sarong cover up to wrap around your legs if you are not deemed to be modest enough.

Thanks to prior warning from my holiday rep, I brought my own beach sarong and tied it around me before going up to the main entrance.

You need to be covered up

The monastery also has an on site museum and a gift shop

Ideal for meditation – monks have been living here as early as the eleventh century – possibly earlier.

Be prepared to climb

Be warned – the monastery building is only accessible by climbing a lot of steep winding stairs up to the top and then back down again.

There is no lift or access for wheelchair users.

To sweep the leaves, I think.

The monastery itself is a beautiful building, renovated to a modern rustic standard.

No photos

Inside the inner prayer areas in the monastery you’ll find the space exquisitely adorned with art, furniture and other religious items. We were not allowed to take photographs in this area, but the postcards below show what we saw inside.

Members of the public were entering and leaving the inner area, worshiping, kissing the image of Mary and crossing their chests Β – manoeuvring their way around those who were just spectating as we listened to talks from our tour guide.

More from around the monastery

Each morning one of the three monks bangs on this plank with a hammer to wake the other two monks for prayer. Apparently, Noah used something like this to signal to the animals when it was time to leave the ark.

300 monks used to live here, now there are only three!!

Down to the inner prayer area

Resident monks don’t really take the stairs, they have their own cable cars to get to and from the monastery. Apparently these are not very safe though as they could easily fall out!

Thankfully, we arrived at the monastery early, while there was barely anyone there – hence getting some ‘people free’ pictures. By the time we were leaving the place was heaving.

“Access to the monasteries was originally (and deliberately) difficult, requiring either long ladders latched together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. This required quite a leap of faith – the ropes were replaced, so the story goes, only “when the Lord let them break” Wikipedia

It was a long day that day, and a really long drive, When we set off it was cold, dark and the stars were still shining brightly in the black sky.

On the road, a thick foggy mist greeted us until the sun rose and the cold icy chill stuck around for a while – but I’m glad we went through all that, to see this truly amazing amazing place.

Souvenir sellers back in the car park



















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