Every country has its own explicitly revered holy shrines.
For example, in orthodox Russia it is the Nilov Monastery on the Lake Seliger. The ringing of its bells seems to float, keeping the nearby source of the Volga and spate over the whole Seliger.
And in orthodox Greece this shrine are certainly Meteora Monasteries, fascinating with its unique location at the tops of high rocks.
Once I accidentally saw a picture in Internet and wondered: what is it and where is it? And answers resulted in big tour around Greece. :-)
The Greek Orthodox monasteries were the cause, the prerequisite and the ultimate goal of the whole route. I must say, be running ahead of the story, that the Meteora Monasteries still did not unclosed to us all its beauty. Somebody the almighty from above just cracked the curtain a bit…
We moved from Delphi, appeared in a fascinated-mystic look in front of our eyes. The weather kept worsening. It seemed that rains of the whole world were going to run over the Thessalian plain in order to fulfill the stony bottom of the formerly existent prehistoric sea again.
The darkness came down early and when we entered the plain we did not notice the stony column-hills, arising above the plain, flat as a table. We spend the night in Kalambaka.
Kalambaka city perched itself at the foot of Meteora, its houses are gradually getting higher from the plain, and the last of them are located right under the cliffs.
The darkness was breaking away and suddenly from our hotel window opened a view of the dark cliffs – Meteora.
The weather was still bad, and thought the rain stopped, the plain was covered with a heavy fog. But no doubts we must to see Meteora! :-) We started to climb the cliffs.
Monks-hermits from olden times settled at these cliffs, escaping the vanities of the world. The monasteries started to appear there around the X century and permanently exist before now.
Once Orthodox Meteora monasteries were at the same level with Holy Mountain Athos in order of importance in the orthodox world, especially in the time of the Othman domination in Greece, when the inaccessibility of these rocks provide a proper protection and the chance to the monks to keep own way of life.
Nowadays six active Orthodox monasteries overtop the Thessalian plain at the six hundred meters height, they are located at the tops of the grandiose cliffs, which were called Meteora after the Greek word μετέωρα — «levitating».
Every single turn provides amazing views through the fog! But today I’d prefer to follow the road and each forthcoming turn, disappearing in the clouds. Finally we stopped at the highest cliff, where Great Meteoron Monastery is located on.
We climbed down to the platform with a small chapel and started a long rise along the steep stairs, hitched in the line of the rocks. Someday long-long time ago people and provision were elevated here with the help of baskets and nettings. Thank God this habit was not adopted as a touristic attraction – there would be only a few people brave enough to get at the top. :-)
See the grid at the top? And here is the lifting device; it seems, all in a completely operational condition.
The cliffs are equipped with the different built-in constructions at the different levels: stores with domestic utensils, small chapels, an icon-painting workshop, inner gardens, a spacious refectory, a winery…
Having a look into one of the windows, we noticed shelves with the neatly stacked skulls of the departed monks. They spent their lives here in the clouds and stayed at this very place forever, instead of being buried below the ground.
At the very top is The Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of Jesus with the ancient frescos and miracle-working icon of the Mother of God. Photos are forbidden, but I broke the ban only once.
Wonderful patios are all over the place – greenery is everywhere regardless of January. And here is the viewing platform – can’t see a yard in front!!! :-)
The rock towers of Meteora in Greece is a unique place. Frankly speaking, I think that there are only a few places on the whole earth more adorable than this.