Have you ever visited the Meteora Monasteries in Greece? If not, you need to add this destination to your bucket list. The Meteora is a unique area that contains vertical columns of huge sandstone rocks suspended in the air. And on top of these rocks are the Meteora monasteries, which are filled with history and beauty. The area was declared a World Heritage Site and is regarded as one of the most awe-inspiring sites in the world. In this post, I will give you a list of the 9 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do at the Meteora Monasteries you need to check out. Read on!
1. Great Meteoron Monastery
The Great Meteoron Monasteries is the oldest and the most visited of all the monasteries. It was built in 1356 by Athanasios the Meteorite and is often considered the most impressive of them all. For such an important site, it is perhaps not too surprising that it has been the subject of many re-builds, as each new generation sought to make improvements.
There is a museum on the site, which gives you an insight into the role of the monastery in the fight against the Turks, who conquered the region in that period. This museum also has many fine frescoes, along with old manuscripts and other displays.
I had a lovely day here. I spent a couple of hours walking around the monastery and enjoyed the different angles from which to see it as well as views down the valley. This is definitely one of the top attractions in Meteoron Monastery that will leave a lasting impression.
2. Monastery of Varlaam
The Monastery of Varlaam is the second in size after the Great Meteoron. It was founded in the early 14th-century and is particularly impressive for its frescoed interiors. It is perched high atop a large rock, which is 373 meters high. And to reach it, you’ll need to climb a flight of 195 steps, but the views alone are worth the climb.
There is also an on-site museum, which displays the history and art of this monastery. Besides the displays of religious items and manuscripts, you will also see a range of old photos depicting life in Meteora in the old days. I recommend you visit the monastery during the morning, as it is far more peaceful then, with fewer visitors.
3. Monastery of Ayios Nikolaos Anapafsas
Another lovely monastery and definitely one of my favorites is the Monastery of Ayios Nikolaos Anapafsas. It was founded in 1368 and has a rich history that is beautifully illustrated in the frescoes. Some of the murals you will see here are among the finest examples of post-Byzantine art. The highlight is an impressive representation of Adam naming animals in Eden.
This monastery is not as well known to foreign visitors, which means you can enjoy it in relative peace. Also, if you’re interested in photographing some amazing views of the surrounding countryside, this is the perfect spot.
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4. Monastery of Ayia Triada
Another of the top attractions at the Meteora Monasteries is, without a doubt, the Monastery of Ayia Triada. It is also known as Holy Trinity Monastery, built in 1798 and features an impressive interior covered with frescoes and a fine iconostasis.
As you walk the paths around the monastery, you’ll find some lovely viewpoints and enjoy impressive views across the surrounding landscape. I spent at least an hour here, and it was time well-spent. So, a visit to this monastery is a must if you’re in the area.
5. Monastery of Ayios Stefanos
The Monastery of Ayios Stefanos is a popular destination for visitors because of its frescoes and its tranquil atmosphere. The monastery is located on a large natural rock platform that forms the summit of a peak. The views are quite spectacular, with a breathtaking panorama of the entire area.
The church’s interior is covered with beautiful frescoes, which feature a wide range of subjects ranging from the life of Jesus to various Church Fathers. The nuns here were very friendly and happy for me to wander around the monastery taking photos. I was impressed with their enthusiasm and willingness to share their beloved abbey with visitors.
The best part about this monastery is that you don’t need to climb anything to reach it. It can easily be accessed via a footbridge.
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6. Monastery of Rousanou
Next on my list of the top attractions at the Meteora Monasteries is the Monastery of Rousanou. It’s one of the loveliest monasteries in Meteora, perched on top of an enormous pillar. The views across the Meteora rock formations are truly memorable.
This monastery was built in 1288 and is dedicated to Saint Barbara. In 1988, it was converted to a convent and is occupied by nuns who are still actively involved in the church’s activities. You can take part in services here, which is an amazing experience.
Inside, you will find beautifully painted walls and a large collection of Byzantine holy items. There’s a lovely little garden in the courtyard that is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the views.
7. Hiking the Meteora Monasteries
One of the best things to do at Meteora Monasteries is to hike between the different monasteries along well-marked paths. In addition, you get to spend some time away from the crowd of more typical visitors and enjoy a quieter monastic life. Hiking between the monasteries takes more than half a day, and it is advisable to start early in the morning.
I recommend that you visit three or four monasteries on the same hike. Of course, you can alter that number to your wishes. To me, it felt just right to see a few of the most impressive monasteries in just one day. You can do this on your own, but I recommend you hire a local guide to accompany you.
8. Village of Kastraki
On a hill near the entrance to the Meteora is the lovely, old village of Kastraki. It is a great place for a walk, as the narrow lanes and alleys wind their way up to the top of the hill. You can enjoy wonderful views over the valley and the monasteries, as well as marvel at how some of the homes are built into rocks. And since this is a conservation village, most houses are made up of mid-19th century cottages with wooden window shutters and terra cotta tile roofs.
I recommend you stroll through the village as there are some very photogenic views here. And don’t forget to grab a coffee or a cold drink in one of the taverns that overlook the spectacular scenery.
9. The town of Kalambaka
Besides the Monasteries, one of the best things to do in Meteora is to explore the town of Kalambaka. It’s one of the most interesting towns in mainland Greece, as there is a lot to see here. It’s the main town in the area and where you’ll find the bus and train stations, as well as several restaurants and cafes. Although there isn’t much in the town itself, it’s a peaceful place to sit and eat a snack or enjoy a cup of coffee, with the mountains as a backdrop.
The town also offers many opportunities for hiking or biking through its surrounding forests, not to mention visiting some small nearby villages, offering traditional guesthouses and unbeatable hospitality. For me personally, Kalambaka was the perfect place to stay while visiting the Meteora Monasteries. And I can recommend it as a place to stay for anyone visiting this region.
There are many top attractions at the Meteora Monasteries, but I wanted to highlight some of the best. And I think anyone who visits these attractions will be impressed with what they fin, whether it’s the religious sites or the stunning landscape views. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to learn more about this fascinating place, and I highly recommend a visit.