Perhaps you were reminded of meteorite when you heard the word Meteora. It could be translated as “hanging in the sky” or “in the middle of the sky”. This is a rather suitable name for vertical rock formations varying from 300 meters (1000 feet) to 550 meters(1800 feet) in height. The rocks stood there for millions of years, sculpted by rain and wind, before the first hermit monks inhabited them in the 9th century . Looking for solitude and living wherever they could find some sort of shelter, they were the pioneers of the monastery complex of Meteora.
The first attempt at an organized monastic community was the Skete of Doupiani or Stagon, in the late 11th – early 12th century. It is believed that the first monastery, the Great Meteoron, was founded by Athanasios Koinovitis, who came from Mount Athos(the Holy Mountain-Agion Oros) in 1356. The Turkish occupation was expanding and the monks were looking for safety. The literally inaccessible rocks of Meteora provided an ideal shelter.
Access to the top of the rocks, both for goods and people, was accomplished by rope ladders or nets which were hauled up. This was not a task for the faint-hearted. According to the legend, the ropes were replaced only when the Lord allowed them to break. It was not until the 1920s that steps were cut into the rock.
The following video shows a bird's eye view of Meteora. Nothing more needs to be said.
Today six monasteries are active, namely:
- The Monastery of Megalo Meteoro (Great Meteoron)
- The Monastery of Varlaam
- The Monastery of Agios Stephanos (Saint Stephen)
- The Monastery of Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nikolas)
- The Monastery of Roussanos
- The Monastery of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity)
The Monasteries of Agios Stephanos and Roussanos are inhabited by women. The other four are inhabited by men.
The entry fee for all monasteries is 2-3€. Please note that there is a strict dress code. Men must wear long pants and women long skirts. Sleeveless shirts are not allowed. The following table shows when the Meteora monasteries are open to the public as well as their telephone numbers
|Monastery||Telephone||Open (Winter, November-March)||Open (Summer, April-October)||Closed|
|+302432022278||9.00-15.00||9.00-17.00||Tuesday (Winter&Summer) Wednesday (Winter)|
|Varlaam||+302432022277||9.00-15.00||9.00-16.00||Thursday (Winter) Friday (Winter&Summer)|
|Agios Stephanos||+302432022279||9.30-13.00 15.00-17.00||9.00-13.30 15.30-17.30||Monday (Winter&Summer)|
|Agios Nikolaos||+302432022375||9.00-16.00||8.00-17.00||Friday (Winter&Summer)|
|Agia Triada||+302432022220||9.00-16.00||9.00-17.00||Thursday (Winter&Summer)|