Meteora - Uniquely Greek

The view from my hotel room window in Kastraki, Meteora, central Greece.

The cliff monasteries of Meteora are uniquely spectacular.

Kastraki, the little village at the foot of the cliffs of Meteora is much prettier than the larger nearby town of Kalampaka and there are plenty of economical guest houses, hotels and camp sites.

Monks would go in and live in these caves for long periods of time when they wanted to do penance or meditate. There are remnants of ladders to be seen hanging down from the old platforms.

All of the monasteries are still inhabited and yes, that is a power line you can see running across to this one.

A mountain road circles the peaks behind the monastery outcrops, enabling one to look across or down at them.  If you look on the left of this photograph there is a narrow bridge across the chasm, connecting the monastery with the new vehicle road.

The sandstone formations are spectacular in their own right.

People gathering on one of the pinnacles to watch the sunset.

Meteora was a location for one of the James Bond films, 'For Your Eyes Only'.

The monasteries were built over a period of about 300 years, from the 13th to the 16th centuries.  If you think of the engineering challenges involved in building on cliffs and mountain tops with only ropes, pulleys and ladders to get all the materials up there, the achievement is truly astonishing.

Food in the tavernas is plentiful and affordable - and local.  There are plenty of market gardens and the nearby Plains of Thessaly are Greece's agricultural heartland.  This is a part of Greece where rivers flow all year round and the earth is rich and deep with  shady plane tree forests and a spectacular road network.
The Sunday after we arrived in Athens our hire car was delivered to the hotel and we hit the road, driving up to Meteora in central Greece via the city of Lamia.  Greece has a very good road network including some marvelous toll roads with tunnels through mountains and sky high bridges over plains.  Much of the route is lined with flowering shrubs, gardens, fields and the scenery is very beautiful. My only gripe is the lack of safe places to pull over to take photographs as barreling along at 120 kilometres an hour, trying to take photos through the increasingly insect-spattered windows doesn't really work! We drove through the Plains of Thessaly to reach Meteora in the foothills of the Pindus mountains.  The journey took about 5 hours with one stop for petrol at a very modern service station with the usual comforts including a good book shop and souvenir shop.  We were in good time to check into our hotel and then have a late lunch in the shady taverna over the road.  The monasteries are open to visitors during the day but the best time to view the scenery is in the late afternoon and early evening, when it is cooler and the light is better - at midday the sunshine is truly blinding.

If you ever have the opportunity to do so, I recommend taking the time to explore the mainland. One can cover a great deal of ground and see a lot of the country in a short space of time with a hire car as the road system is so good.  Flying via Athens with Aegean Air is very efficient and the Blue Star ferries that connect Piraeus with the islands are extremely comfortable.

I will have more photographs for you tomorrow, of our next stop which was Ioannina, an old Ottoman lakeside town and provincial capital on the Albanian border.


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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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