Stoic and jagged, this geological phenomenon has stood proudly for over 60 million years. They pop abruptly from the flat Thessaly plain, as surreal as an artificial prop.
Some see them like the Grand Canyon, and others say they’re like Mars, but they can only be known as Meteora: the monasteries that “float in air.”
They’re a holy site, an old battleground, a monk’s haven, and a geologist’s dream. Rock climbers, artists, and simply quiet hermits linger here for the benefit of its peace.
But for us, these rocks bring everything else to a halt. They are a sweet escape; the rat race can wait.
Kastraki village is unspoiled—time stopped here long ago. Kastraki’s air emits a mixture of pine sap and smoked souvlaki. Pickup trucks cruise slowly through the town and kids throw dice on the Tavli board while old women carry baskets full of rosemary. Kastraki, a village untouched by mass tourism and commercialization, is the face of old-school Greece.
Sydney hotel is a cozy stay and accommodated us well. It’s directly across from the bus station that heads for the monasteries or Kalabaka.
Once we arrive at our first monastery, we absorb the morning light. Everything stands still. The structure looks something out of a J.R. R. Tolkien story. A fiery red shrub entangles the stairwell as we go up. We pay a 2 Euro fee, put on a provided skirt, and enter Saint Athanasius’s creation, the Grand Meteoro (standing since 1370). Taking a few steps up, I ponder the towering drop to the valley below. The tower, a feature since 1520, spews out a net once used to hoist up equipment and even monks.
We stumble inside a dark kitchen, where old remnants of copper spoons, bowls, and cups hang. The museum harbors a collection of old Byzantine manuscripts, golden iconography, and romanticized battle scenes of the Greek independence and World War Two.
I step outside to gaze over a balcony and gulp in the thin air. The light unsheathes semi-circular shapes and gnarly crevices on these sandstone giants. Though I am alone, the isolation fades as I soak in the energy around me.
Meteora fosters a subjective divine—religious, spiritual, or atheist, the sight and place will give you chills.