While in Thessaloniki, we thought this was our chance to visit Meteora, a lifelong dream destination of mine. You can either rent a car and drive to Kalabaka (the nearest town) or book a tour and we did the latter. It’s a three hours bus drive, split into two one and a half hours with a quick break so it didn’t really felt long, and you get to visit two monasteries that are open the given day. The six monasteries are built on natural pillars and hill-like boulders that look like they’re floating, creating an out of this world sight, especially when it’s cloudy.
Meteora means “suspended in the air”, derived from the ancient Greek word metéōros, meaning “raised from the ground, hanging, lofty".
Between the 13th and 14th centuries, the twenty-four monasteries were established atop the rocks. Meteora was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.
Also, in "Game of Thrones", Meteora were used for the Eyrie prison in the sky, where Tyrion Lannister was held. However, they never actually filmed there, instead Meteora was digitally mastered into the series.
First stop is the Monastery of Varlaam, for which you must climb 140 steps. This one is the second largest monastery of Meteora, and its name comes from a monk named Varlaam who scaled the rocks in 1350 and began construction on the monasteries. After his death, the monastery was abandoned for two hundred years until two monk brothers came to the rock in the 16th century and began to rebuild the churches in October 1517.
In this one you will find a beautiful terrace overseeing the rest of the mountains, decorated with plants and a kiosk so you can enjoy some time resting.
Climbing 140 steps, again, for the second monastery of the day. The Monastery of Roussanou is believed to have been constructed in the 14th century. The cathedral is believed to have been built in the 16th century and later decorated in 1540. The name Roussanou is believed to come from the first group of monks who settled on the rock from Russia.
On the inside you get to admire a series of pictures and sketches that show the history of the monastery
If you book a tour, after the two monasteries you get to have lunch at Meteoron Panorama, a restaurant in Kastraki village. The village is very small and peaceful and the restaurant offers a variety of delicious dishes that you get to enjoy while having the mountains as a view.
The entrance for each monastery is €3 per person (for the non-Greek speakers, if I'm not mistaken). If you're thinking of visiting this marvel, I say do it without hesitation, whether you're a religious person or not, it's an outstanding experience.