Meteora: Suspended in the Air

12 09 2015

Spent a morning being amazed by the six monasteries that are built on top of natural sandstone pillars in Meteora.

We wound our way through the mountain roads and I kept craning my neck to look up….and up….and up to see the sandstone pillars.  I frantically took photos while we were on the bus, not sure if we would see these sights again.  I should have known better: 1. Of course we were going to visit viewpoints with amazing vistas.  2.  Only 1% of photos taken from a moving bus actually look good.

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Finger of God

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Cave of St. George Madilas: “Saint George with the Scarves” – the most popular cave, located in one of the steepest slopes outside of Kastraki. Every year believers hang colourful scarves near the cave’s entrance.

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Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas

Somehow our timing was perfect, and our group had many of these viewpoints all to ourselves.

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I thought we were jumping….probably smart that we didn’t jump at the same time

Originally there were over 20 monasteries built on these pillars, there are 6 remaining.  We visited 2 monasteries during our tour.  The interiors were full of detailed and intricate paintings  all over the walls and ceilings.  The courtyards were beautiful and peaceful, but the true feeling of wonder came from the fact that these monasteries were built in the 14th/15th centuries, in impossible conditions – with no roads, and all supplies and manpower hoisted up the 1200+ foot cliffs.

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Courtyard views at Holy Monastery of St. Stephen

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Private courtyard of the Monks at the Holy Monastery of Varlaam

Although there are some stairs required, the original entrances to these monasteries were deliberately difficult with access only by ladders lashed together or a net used to haul both goods and people up the cliffs.  A true act of faith.

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The pulley and winch is still used today to hoist items, although now it has a little help rather than just man power

We finished our tour around noon and eased our way back down to the village of Kalambaka.  Lunch was a unique experience at the Restaurant Meteora in Mama’s kitchen.  We entered the kitchen with dishes bubbling on the stove as Mama described what she had made for lunch: meatballs, lamb with eggplant, chicken, and many more dishes.  Mama made sure we had large portions of her delicious food as we circled around the kitchen.

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Lunch, some sticky greek honey soaked sweets, a cafe frappe and we were back on the bus for our 4+ hour ride back to Athens.

Although we did have a little detour since there was a girl on our bus who had coordinated a stop along the way to meet a long lost relative – an aunt she had never met, and who brought traditional greek sweets for all of us to enjoy!!

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Overall, just a beautiful trip through these mountains to experience a landscape like no other.

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Panoramic views of Meteora

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