Pinnacles of Peace

Church in the Sky (Agia Triada)

Church in the Sky (Agia Triada)

Greece’s economy is not the only thing on the rocks.   On a positive note, it can boast about one of its national treasures that is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Meteora sits among a valley of natural rock formations and is home to some of the most interesting history of its religious culture.

Roussanou Nunnery

Roussanou Nunnery

Meteora (“suspended in the air” in Greek) is the site of monastic communities that date back to the 14th and 15th centuries.  During the 11th century, hermits and ascetics were drawn here to seek the divine and settle in rough makeshift caves among the rocks.   Eventually, Meteora grew to be a prominent place of retreat, prayer and meditation for the Greek Orthodox faithful.  Today as you look across the vista of rock pinnacles in the valley of Kalambaka, it’s hard to imagine that on almost every one of them was perched a monastery built under impossible circumstances with no modern construction tools or proper roads.  Today only six remain permanently but precariously perched on a few solid rock columns.

Varlaam Monastery

Varlaam Monastery

It’s hard to believe something like this exists on earth.  You really have to see it to believe it.  How on earth did the monks build these giant stone monuments and manage to keep the insulation of their simple monastic lifestyles?  Before roads were constructed, supplies and pilgrims were hoisted up the sheer rock faces via a series of pulleys and baskets, hooks and ladders.  Some are still in use today.  Maybe not this one…

You first...

You first…

Megalo Meteoro monastery

Megalo Meteoro monastery

The existing monasteries house anywhere from one monk to 28 nuns.  Each has its own distinct presence and in spite of the onslaught of tourist, the monks and nuns carefully guard their monastic lifestyles and go about their everyday life on the rocks.  All of the monasteries have at least a small garden or two tucked into the rocks or fashioned onto a terrace.  Everything is meticulously cared for and beautifully preserved.

Garden at Roussanou

Garden at Roussanou

We visited remarkable Meteora in summertime when the air is still and the light is relatively flat.  Even then, we were struck by the ever-changing beauty of this mystical place.   The first daylight burned away the dewy mist of the morning and the shadows of the late afternoon emerged from behind crevices and lengthened into long fingers covering  the valley below.  It’s in that late afternoon light that the rocks and the monasteries take on a brilliant golden glow long after the valley succumbs to the shadows of dusk.

Roussanou convent

Roussanou convent

After viewing some amazing photographs of the different seasons of Meteora, I long to experience this place in the wild season of winter when snow and ice dust the landscape and the monasteries push up above the low winter clouds into the crisp blue sky.  Imagine this:  A ring of low winter clouds encircles one of the rock pillars separating the cold dark valley below from the monastery  that basks in the sunshine of the blue sky above.  A world set apart, figuratively and  literally.

Sunset over Meteora

Summer sunset over Meteora

Magical, mystical, magnificent Meteora.  Push this one up to the top of your bucket list!





About Melanie A Crane

Quote: "The best journeys ask questions that in the beginning you never thought to ask." (Anon) Here's my journey: Enjoying my short life on this earth one moment at a time by being intentional with God, family, traveling, cooking, gardening, Colorado living and all the perks that come with it, playing guitar, listening more and talking less. I've discovered that both cooking and travel can be messy at times but the risks can have some amazing results. The same goes for life lived with passion.
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2 Responses to Pinnacles of Peace

  1. So cool. I’m headed there in October and can’t wait. Thanks for the great post and beautiful photos.

  2. Kelly M says:

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos! I really regret the fact I didn’t visit Meteora when I visited Greece a few years ago (I was short on time and visited Mycenae and Delphi instead). It’s certainly high on my list of places to visit during my lifetime so I’ll make a concerted effort to go there when I get the chance to visit Greece again in future. 🙂

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