Best things to do in Meteora Monasteries
Find out more about those top places in Meteora Monasteries
Situated in the heart of Greece far from the tourist hot spots of the Cycladic islands or the Athenian Peninsula, the precipitous monasteries of Meteora are Greece’s true hidden gem. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988, Meteora is home to twenty-four monasteries perched atop granite pillars that rise from the surrounding countryside like Corinthian columns. First settled by monks in the 11th century, the monasteries of Meteora reached an artistic climax in the 15th century when they perfected the art of post-Byzantine frescoes. Today, the monasteries look torn from the pages of a fantasy novel. The best known attraction is the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, which became the richest and most influential of the monastic retreats thanks to the patronage of the Serbian emperor. Beyond the monasteries themselves, Meteora is a center for adventure sports in Greece with the sheer granite rocks providing perfect conditions for rock climbing.
Built atop the highest pinnacle of rock in the valley, the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron was founded in the 14th century and quickly became the richest religious institution in Meteora thanks to the patronage of the Serbian emperor. While atop the narrow rocky stack make sure to pay a visit to the katholikon, the primary church of the monastery, which is bedecked in vibrant frescoes detailing the persecution of Christ subservient to the Romans and has a rare polygonal dome.
The Monastery of the Holy Trinity may have rose to international fame thanks to its starring role in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only but the rich history of this Orthodox religious institution goes back to the early 15th century. Rising 400 metres above a remote part of the Meteora valley, the Holy Trinity is the most isolated of the region’s monasteries. As a result, it receives fewer visitors than other easier to access monasteries making it a hidden gem best explored with the help of a local guide.
Besides hiking the many trails that surround the Meteora monasteries, there is no better way to get a unique insight into the region’s jaw-dropping landscapes and wildlife than through the Natural History Museum. What is more, the museum offers the rare chance to take a tour with local truffle hunting dogs to find the rare ‘black diamonds’ of Meteora that are prized by chefs across the globe.
Combining the best of Meteora’s breathtaking rock formations and its fascinating history, cliff-scrambling tours give adventurous visitors the opportunity to hike, rock climb and scramble their way up some of the region’s most precipitous rock pinnacles. Beyond simply being an adrenaline pumping experience, the isolated rock climbing routes take you past usually inaccessible monasteries, such as the ruined Monastery of the Twelve Apostles.
Given Meteora’s unique landscape it is no surprise that adrenaline junkies from across the world come to climb the region’s sheer rock faces. On rock climbing tours guides will help climbers of all abilities make the most of their time in Meteora through specialist training and safety conscious instruction. What is more, climbing the rocks at Meteora allows you to experience the jaw-dropping scenery in a way not possible at ground level.