In the prefecture of Trikala (just 20 km from the city of Trikala), above the town of Kalambaka, the proud and majestic stone cliffs of Meteora are rising, full of fossilized shells, witnessing a unique geological phenomenon. Meteora is, after Mount Athos, the largest and with a continuous presence of monastic territory since the establishment of the first ascetics in Greece. The historical evidence suggest that in the past, the monasteries of Meteora were thirty in total. Out of these thirty, only six are in operation today and receive many visitors throughout the year. Most of them were founded in the 14th century.
The name Meteora is newer and not mentioned by the ancient writers. The name derives from Saint Athanasios the Meteorite, founder of the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour (Great Meteor), who gave this name to the “wide stone” he climbed for the first time in 1344. According to the prevailing view, the first anchorites settled in the 12th century. In the mid-14th century, the monk Nilus gathered the monks who lived isolated in caves of the rocks around the hermitage of Doupiani organizing this way the monasticism in Meteora.
The conquest of Thessaly by the Ottoman Turks (1393) and the gradual collapse and final fall of the Byzantine Empire brought in, during the 15th century, a downturn in the monastic life of Meteora.During the last quarter of the 15th century, there is a recovery marked by the foundation of the monastery of the Holy Trinity (1475-1476) and the mural of the old Catholic Grand Meteor (1483). The edge of Meteora will take place in the next century, in which new monasteries are established, new Catholic monasteries and other buildings are erected, most of which are adorned with fine art paintings.
During the period of Turkish occupation in Thessaly (1393-1881), Meteora monasteries functioned as places of hope. In the early 19th century, the troops of Ali Pasha brought destruction and looting in several of them (Visitation Monastery, Monastery of St. Demetrios etc.).
The six visitable monasteries of Meteora, are now restored and preserved for the most part with their mural decoration.In 1989, Unesco inscribed Meteora on the list of World Heritage Monuments as a special cultural significance and natural resource. It characterized the “Holly Meteora” as “A monument of Humanity “, stating that way that they do not belong only to Greece but to the whole world. The Monasteries of Meteora are among the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites because they are a unique, harmonious matching of Byzantine architecture and natural beauty. The buildings of the monasteries seem like a continuation of the rocks, like natural endings. Furthermore, they include a priceless artistic and relic treasure.
Museum of Natural History & Mushroom Museum organizes a truffle hunt in the area. Trained dogs with hunters, search for this rare underground mushroom, turn it into a wonderful truffle macaroni in the woods, while guests enjoy local wine making and tasting mushrooms. This action concludes with a visit to the museum.
The natural beauty and the unique environment of the wider region of Meteora provide an excellent opportunity for visitors to perform organized or independent activities that will provide entertainment, relaxation and a deeper connection to the mysterious atmosphere that captivates you.
Meteora offer many and various opportunities for hikers. Among the rocks, but also from their feet up to their peaks, trails are engraved by nature and human. There are books and tourist guides for every path of Meteora.There are two main paths to reach the six operating monasteries, and the residues of others. The trails are not steep, on the contrary to everyone’s first impression just by seeing the rocks. Previous experience in trekking is helpful.The most beautiful time for hiking is spring, but the activity can take place during all seasons. Rainy days must be avoided, because rocks become quite slippery.
Guests can experience the hidden treasures of Meteora with mountain bikes having the ability to choose between paths with different degrees of difficulty.In the area there are professional experts that offer the necessary expertise and equipment.
Climbing is an individual activity with a sense of freedom and confidence. Climbers can climb all rocks apart from those having inhabited monasteries. One hundred rocks and seven hundred trails offer thrills to climbers of all levels. All routes are opened traditionally, from the bottom up and have various degrees of difficulty, from easy to very difficult.All mountaineering schools across the country provide at least a weekend in the area of Meteora, while in the area, there are instructors for anyone who is interested.All four seasons are suitable for climbing; however, rain is a prohibitive factor. Furthermore, it is advisable to avoid very hot summer days.
Rappel is called the abseiling of areas using climbing equipment. It’s an easy sport for which you do not need previous experience.There are experts with full equipment in the area.This activity takes place throughout the whole year.
In the shadow of the rocks, the river Ionas is flowing (part of Pineios river). Get to know or enjoy one more time the rafting activity within a unique natural landscape. Live a truly unique experience across a distance of about 8km next to the plane tree forest by the river with a view of the rocks of Meteora. The river is suitable for all ages and for beginners, with passages of first and second degree of difficulty.In the area there is a school with experienced instructors and the necessary equipment available.This activity takes place from September till June.