Meteora

The place where divinity meets the miracle of nature

Humongous rocks, monasteries «hanging in the sky» and beautiful paths compose an enchanting scenery that everyone must see. This almost “unearthly state” with monasteries that clambered on the edge of impressive steep mountainous masses, challenge you to discover the majesty of nature. The earth meets the sky, the human intervention the divine element and the traveler finds the emotional serenity and spiritual well being which arises eternally from the atmosphere. Every year, millions of visitors from all over the world visit Meteora in order to admire this unique phenomenon. Since 1988, Meteora is part of the World Heritage sites of UNESCO.
Don’t miss this absolute experience!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 2 of the 6 Holy Monasteries of Meteora
  • Kastraki, in Kalampaka area (lunch-break against the magnificent view of Meteora)

The monasteries have strict dress rules prohibiting entry to male visitors wearing shorts and women visitors with sleeveless sweatshirts.

STARTING POINTS AND DEPARTURE TIME

  • Starting point: WHITE TOWER(Entrance) 08:00
  • Stop 1: MAKEDONIA PALACE HOTEL 08:05
  • Stop 2: ARISTOTELOUS square & EGNATIA (Venizelos Statue) 08:15
  • Stop 3: CAPSIS Hotel 08:20
  • Stop 4: THE MET Hotel 08:25

AVERAGE EXCURSION DURATION

  • 11 hours (6 hours on the road)

EXCURSION DESCRIPTION

We depart to Meteora with the bus of Ammon Express along with our friendly trip attendant-archaeologist,

at 08:00 from the White Tower,

at 08:05 from the hotel Makedonia Palace,

at 08:15 from Aristotelous Square & Egnatia Street (at the statue of Venizelos),

at 08:20 from hotel Capsis and

at 08:25 from The Met Hotel

The distance is 230km and lasts approximately 3 hours. During our way, there is a 30’ stop for rest and coffee.

We reach Meteora at around 12:30p.m; this fascinating complex of huge steep rocks of pennant, arising close to the first elevations of the longest sierra in Greece, Pindos (the “spine” of Greece). We visit two of the six operating Holy Monasteries depending on the schedule of each one*:

  • the women’s monastery of Saint Stefanos with the impressive wood-carved iconostasis and the magnificent view of the city of Kalampaka, the river Lithaios and the plain,
  • the monastery of the Holy Trinity at the steepest rock of Meteora, through stairs cut through the stone,
  • the women’s monastery of Rousanou with the extraordinary wall paintings of the small church, and the verdant path leading to it,
  • the Varlaam monastery with the valuable surviving frescoes of the painter of icons Frangos Katelanos and, among others, the thirteen-ton wooden barrel,
  • the monastery of the Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) of Christ, which is the largest monastery of Meteora,
  • the monastery of Saint Nicholas Anapafsas, with the frescoes of the famous painter of icons Theophanes the Cretan, which has a balcony that is a stone’s throw away from the huge rocks.

*Every Monday we visit the monasteries of Varlaam and Rousanou, every Wednesday and Sunday the monasteries of Saint Stefanos and Varlaam and every Friday the monasteries of Rousanou and Saint Stefanos.

The monasteries are built οn the peak of the huge rocks, and form the second most important complex of monasteries after Mt. Athos. In the past, there were twenty four monasteries but today only the six of them operate properly. In 1988, Meteora joined the list of the World Heritage sites of UNESCO.

For your convenience, the bus stops in front of the entrance of the Holy Monasteries.

During our visits to the monasteries we make a short stop to admire the stunning panoramic view of the Holy Monasteries from up high and capture the mystique of the landscape. The wild unapproachable area with the sandstones of more than 65 millions years old is majestic and at the same time unearthly and divine as until today their origin cannot be explained.

Next, we enjoy our greek traditional lunch break in Kastraki, at Kalampaka area, against the view of the astonishing Meteora.

We depart to Thessaloniki at around 15:30p.m and we have a last stop for 20΄ for coffee and rest. We are back at about 19:00p.m, making the same stops where we started from.

THE PRICE OF THE EXCURSION INCLUDES:

  • Round-trip transportation to Meteora
  • English speaking trip attendant-archaeologist
  • Basic travel insurance (during transport)

NOT INCLUDED

  • Entrance fee 3€ per monastery (only in cash), valid for all non-Greek citizens
  • Tour-guide inside the monasteries
  • Cost of lunch at the restaurant

The monasteries have strict dress rules prohibiting entry to male visitors wearing shorts and women visitors with sleeveless sweatshirts.

A perennial cluster of huge sandstone rocks rises in northwestern Thessaly. At the end of the Thessaly plain, between Chasia mountain and the mountain range of Pindos, Meteora are a splendid landscape of natural beauty and an ideal destination for those seeking the uniqueness of the works of nature and man. They are located at the foot of the town of Kalambaka.

Over millions of years the rocks took their current form with the constant erosion of wind and rain, and because of other geological changes. Current studies show that the Meteora were formed about 60 million years ago. Strangely, the Greek mythology that gave a wide interpretation to many physical phenomena and imagined a beautiful woman living in every tree and bathing in the river waters, did not address the creation of the landscape of Meteora. Neither the ancient Greeks nor any stranger historian had tried to solve the riddle of the formation of the imposing rocks up to the first millennium AD. Since then a dynamic center of Byzantine monastic life begins its creation.

The name “Meteora” faithfully describes the landscape as the monasteries that are built on the rocks seem to hover in limbo, between earth and sky. Meteora were named after Saint Athanasios Meteorites, hermit who built the monastery of the Transfiguration (the “Great Meteor”) on the highest rocks, which was first staged in 1344 AD

The first hermits began to inhabit Meteora in late 900 AD. According to tradition, the first of them was the monk Barnabas, who founded the Hermitage of the Holy Spirit. In early 1000 AD the establishment of the cloister of the Transfiguration of the Cretan monk Andronicus followed, while a century later a small ascetic state was well established in the area of ​​Meteora. The first worship center was the church of the Virgin Mary that constituted the “Kiriako” or “Protaton” which still exists and is located south of Doupiani rock.

The first monasteries were built with great skill during the 14th century and up to the 15th century Meteora had great monastic heyday and the number of monasteries reached up to 24. Then, during the decline and fall of the Byzantine Empire monastic life Meteora decreased, however, from the late 15th century and especially the 16th century, the monastic community of Meteora passed again to a heyday period. New monasteries and buildings were established, which were adorned with unique art paintings. The Meteora temples are crafted with frescoes by monks, priests and the great painters of the time, such as Theophanis and Fragkos Katelanos.

During the Ottoman rule, the monasteries were, due to the particular morphology of the area, a safe place for the monks who preserved monuments of culture and post-Byzantine art. The decline began in the 17th century, having as a result the abandonment of the monasteries one by one. Currently 6 out of 24 are in operation and the rest are uninhabited and desolated. Many of the monasteries also did not escape the looting by the army of the revolutionary Ali Pasha in early 1800.

For centuries, the ascent to the monasteries was with scaffolding rested on beams wedged into the rocks, with net baskets and later with ladders. Today, pilgrims and visitors can climb to the monasteries in safety and comfort, using the stairs carved in the rocks from the 1920s.

A favorite place for climbers, Meteora now accommodate sport enthusiasts from all over Greece and abroad, who find there hundred meters of cliff where they can practice their favorite sport.

The six monasteries that can be visited today are the Transfiguration, the Holy Trinity, St. Nicholas Anapafsas, Barlaam (male) and monasteries Roussanou and St. Stephen (female). Meteora there are preserved treasures, relics and many miniature works as the masterpiece carved iconostasis of the katholikon of the Monastery of St. Stephen. In 1989 Meteora were included in the list World Heritage of UNESCO.

  • Our trip attendant-archaeologist shall wear clothing with the Ammon Express marking so that he/she will be recognisable easily
  • You should be at the departure point 10΄ before the time indicated in the schedule. The bus cannot remain at designated stops, except for boarding
  • The monasteries have strict dress rules prohibiting entry to male visitors wearing shorts and women visitors with sleeveless sweatshirts
  • Wear comfortable shoes to walk around the monasteries of Meteora
  • Please be consistent with the exact appointment times specified by the Ammon Express escort, so that the excursion will remain unforgettable to all participants
  • Have a nice trip and an unforgettable experience!
  • Don’t forget to share pictures and comments from your experience!