One of the most spectacular sights in Europe, Meteora must be seen to be believed.
The Great Balkan Ride passes many magnificent sights, from historic Sarajevo to the mountains of Montenegro, the surprising beauty of Kosovo to the stunning Albanian Coast. However, for an amazing combination of unusual nature and human ingenuity, it’s hard to beat Meteora, in Northern Greece. Here’s what you need to know.
Even if there were no monasteries, Meteora would still be incredible. This area of giant stone pillars, and rocky columns is majestic. However, there are monasteries, and they make it one of the most incredible places to visit in the Balkans. Meaning “middle of the sky”, or “in the heavens”, Meteora has to be seen to be believed.
In total Meteora is comprised of six important monasteries, all many hundreds of years old. The grandest sights, the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, dates back to the middle of the 14th Century. The monasteries are important sights for the Eastern Orthodox Church. Pictured above is the interior of Agios Nikolaos church, one of the smallest in the area, but still featuring astonishing design.
Meteora is home to sixty monks and nuns. Of the six monasteries, four are occupied by men and the remaining two by women. When visiting Meteora, many tourists stay in the nearby towns of Kalambaka and Kastraki, which have a combined population of less than 10,000.
For How Long?
While the monasteries date back over five hundred years, there are traces of habitation for almost a millennium. And not far away are caves with signs of human life from over 100,000 years ago, and these were where monks originally came to link in the 11th century. The entire area is brimming with history.