Posted by: Leap of Faith | November 27, 2009

Monasteries of Meteora


Meteora, a UNESCO World heritage site, was the second place we visited in Greece.  After doing some reasearch in the Internet and seeing some pictures of this place, Pinky and I were immediately convinced that we needed to include this in our itinerary. 

When I initially heard about Meteora, the first thing that came to my mind was a place where celestial bodies must have fallen from the sky. I know it sounds totally outrageous but, after looking at the pictures of these unique rock formation, you will realize that this thought may not really far-fetched. 

To give a brief background, though, the literal meaning of the name is “suspended in the air,” which makes a lot of sense specially when you see how the monks constructed several monasteries on top of natural sandstone rock pillars making them appear to be perched in air. 

Originally, the only access to the monasteries were using long rope ladders, which were tied together and let to dangle loosely on the cliffs, or through  nets, which were used to hoist up both goods and people. More recently, though, they have carved steps into the stone wall for people to pass.  Access to this place was deliberately made difficult in order to keep away all but the most determined visitors – and we were one of them!

Family pose before we leave Kalambaka town for Meteora.  In the background are a few of the many natural sandstone rock pillars, which make this place very scenic to say the least.

Before we left, though, we had to pass by this shop which sold good replicas of religious paintings and statues of Byzantine art.  This served as a glimpse of what we were about to see inside the monasteries! (Cute ng smile ni Rafael, noh?… hehehe!)

More of the cliffs – taken while we were in the bus. 

Two of the remaining six monasteries in this place.  Notice the wooden porch in the second photo – this is where they placed the net which was used to hoist up the monks and their food.  Do you dare ride that?

 

The Grand Meteoron, built in the mid 14th century, is the largest and most visited of all the monasteries because of its well restored interior, which serves as a great museum for tourists.  If I remember correctly, you have to climb around 300+ steps (one-way) to enter the monastery…

 … definitely a much better deal than being hoisted up this net, right?

 

This is a glimpse of how the monks lived back then (storage rooms, wine cellar and kitchen).

Rafael found something interesting… guess what it is?

A room full of real skulls of dead monks! Morbid.

 

The exterior walls of the monastery were adorned by Byzantine paintings such as this one. 

Elaborate ceiling frescoes depicting the lives of Jesus and the saints also decorated the churches.  However, due to strict guidelines, we were unable to take photos inside the worship area.

The monasteries also had a strict dress code – women should wear skirts while men can not wear short pants.  Fortunately, Pinky read about this in advance and decided to bring a shawl to wrap around her waist (my mom did the same).  As for me, the jacket over my waist is just a fashion disaster!

As is customary in most, if not all, of the monasteries in the world, cleanliness of mind, spirit and surroundings are a must.  Despite the many tourist, this place was just very clean and beautiful, to say the least.

 

Even the second monastery we went to, a nunnery this time, was very nice and clean.  By the way, the long log on the third photo was and is used to call the monks and nuns for prayer.  The sound of this wooden plank when struck is enough to be heard around the whole place. Cool right? 

 

The monasteries of Meteora were definitely one of the highlights of our trip.  Definitely a must see for all those who are travelling to this beautiful country.

Coming up next are pictures of our cruise and the islands of the Mediterranean Sea and Turkey. Until next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

   

 

 

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Responses

  1. Meteora certainly tested not only our will but moreso our physical limitations (bawal ang couch potatoes – waahhh!!!). Happy naman that we survived and were able to experience such an awesome and breath-taking place. God is good! 😀

    • Oh yes! Testing our physical limitations is the best way to describe this place. If you think about it, though, I’m still for that rather than riding a net up to the monsateries.


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