Getting hooked on Meteora

Over millions of years the elements have striven to create this geological masterpiece to match anything of its kind throughout the world; a place to test your physique and stun your sences.

Giant granite outcrops, leviathans in stone, rise suddenly from the plain, crowned with gravity-defying Byzantine monasteries reaching into the blue heavens for their ultimate inspiration. Feelings come at you in rush as you approach this spectacle; a cascade of admiration, awe, ecstasy and humility. It’s a beacon for spiritual contemplation, reflection and personal atonement.

In 1340 St Athanasios initiated an organized monastic community by founding the Holy Monastery of Mega Meteoro. In the cellar, the commons and the library you will admire a rich collection of sacred relics. In its courtyards, with a view of the river Pinios and Mt Koziakas, you will lose yourself in serene thoughts.

Exactly opposite and at an altitude of 550m. lies the Holy Monastery of Varlaam or Agion Panton, all saints. Relics and manuscripts are housed in the old commons and an ethereal silence permeates its courtyard. Here you will also see the historic barrel with a capacity of 12 tons that the monks built in order to collect the rain water.

At the top of another rock lies the Holy Monastery Rousanou.

The first monastery you come across when ascending from Kastraki is that of St Nikolaos Anapafsas. In the central church you will see wonderful frescoes of the Cretan school. The skull of St Haralampos is kept in the Holy Monastery of St Stefanos. It will be a special experience if you stay for the service, since the monastery is famed not only for its miraculous relic but also for the beautiful singing voices of its brothers.

The Holy Monastery of Agia Triada is situated on one of the most impressive rocks of Meteora. The view of the valley of Kalambaka and the surrounding mountains combined with the deeply religious atmosphere of the monastery is very moving and leaves your spirit in a most tranquil state.

Everywhere you venture in Meteora, you will climb steps that zigzag skywards, cross rickety bridges upon which you feel no risk of falling whatsoever and succumb to the overwhelming mysticism of this enchanting and enchanted place. Adventure and action scale new heights in the imposing landscape of Meteora.

One of the top abseiling venues in the world, it has all the facilities you could possibly need to take up the challenge. As you survey the panorama below, you’ll get the exhilarating sensation that you are suspended somewhere between heaven and earth.

Set out for a hike to one of the gravity-defying monasteries that perch on top of the rocks and on your way you cannot help but be enchanted by all the untamed beauty; those imperious stone giants are mesmerizing from the moment you set eyes on them and the palpable sense of serenity and soothing silence as you draw nearer to the holy residence, broken only by the calls of the birds wheeling in the sky, will leave you in an state of utter calm. The higher you climb, the more commonplace cares and responsibilities seem to evaporate into the ether, freeing your mind to simply exult at the majesty of the experience.

Then again, if you prefer, there’s a two-wheel alternative. Mountain biking in Meteora means plenty of physical exertion, but doesn’t that make the reward of all the hidden treasures you will discover that much sweeter? There are three trails, one with a guide that’s a little more leisurely and another that really throws down the gauntlet for those who have pedaling power to spare! Rock, roll and raft

The legendary Aheloos river, referred to as Aspropotamos by the locals, crosses endless expanses of forest, whose colours and textures make a sublime collage. What better way to enjoy them than from a raft on the river itself descending from Tria Potamia to the Alexiou bridge? Another unforgettable rafting experience, suitable even for those just beginning, can be had on the Ionas river, a tributary to the Pinios. Cave of Theopetra

When did Homo Sapiens replace the Neanderthals? How did humanity’s transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer come about? Who do the 130,000-year-old footprints belong to? The cave of Theapetra in Kalambaka can definitely lead you out of the darkness as far as these and other archaeological conundrums are concerned –the mysteries of prehistory in Greece beckon you in. Raise the pulse and reach for the skies in fabled Meteora.