If you are a fan of the TV hit series, Game of Thrones, you’ve most definitely recognized Meteora – or more accurately, a small part of it – from season 2. If you are not, you have probably come across a similar picture, like the one below, in your social media feed. Still doesn’t ring any bells? Then prepare for a jaw dropping, how- did-I-ever-miss-this-in-my-life moment.
Meteora comes from the word “meteoros” which by definition means someone or something that has no roots and floats above the ground. No wonder why they named this one of a kind, unique rock formation and UNESCO World Heritage Site after that.
Located in Central Greece, this monastery complex is of great importance for the Orthodox Religion and, no matter which God you believe in or not, you’ll feel the sanctity and spirituality of it. You’ll feel connected.
As with many attractions of historical, religious and cultural value, the best way to see Meteora is by actually having a professional guide with you to show you around and take you to the must-see areas. I couldn’t possibly recommend anyone other than my hosts, VisitMeteora travel agency. Not only are they the best in the area, but they are also one of the top 10 Greek tour agencies (TripAdvisor doesn’t lie).
VisitMeteora runs three different tours daily, all year round. They’ll also put together customized tours, tailored to your preferences. Bonus: They have amazing tour guides that speak excellent English and transport you from and to your hotel’s door in a luxurious Mercedes van.
I went on the Sunset Tour and loved every second of it.
Some interesting tips about Meteora that I got from Jimmy, our guide from VisitMeteora travel agency:
- At the beginning of the 11th Century AD, it was proven that hermits began living in the caves of Meteora. They survived off donations from others, as well as walnuts and berries picked from the forests.
- Meteora is like a state in a state or a city-state, similar to the Vatican. In a way, it does not abide by Greek laws nor does it get any funding from our government. It only answers to the authority of the Patriarch.
- The whole site (rocks & land) is private property and it belongs to the monasteries. If tomorrow, they decide to close the entrance to the public, they have every right to do so. It’d be nice if we, as visitors, respected their generosity to show us around.
- The production companies for “Game of Thrones” asked for permission to film 3 episodes at the site but the answer was a straight no. The monks agreed to let them use only photoshopped pictures of Meteora that didn’t show any of the holy sites or monasteries. The monks believed that, otherwise, they’d destroy the sanctity of the place.
- Unfortunately, there are not many monks left in the monasteries, mostly due to the hordes of tourists that visit the site every year.
The view of this extraordinary, natural phenomenon called Meteora is beyond breathtaking, in any direction you turn your head. One of most impressive man made creations (personal opinion) and the epitome of Meteroa are the 6 remaining monasteries that decorate the gigantic rocks. They are all accessible, however, some easier than others. They each have a small entrance fee, plus their own dress code and photo/video policy.
(find more info at visitmeteora.travel)
We stayed at the beautiful boutique hotel Theatro Odysseon (9,5 Booking rate)right beneath the imposing rocks of Meteora in the little town of Kalampaka. Each room is inspired by a popular theatrical play, like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “The Three Musketeers”. While the interior has been fully renovated, the hotel has kept the historic glam and décor, which maintained its character and uniqueness. Also recommended because they welcome you with a nice glass of homemade sangria!
We picked the restaurant “Meteora”, named after the city-state, and located right in the center of Kalampaka, across the Town Hall. I just can’t describe to you how happy my palate was for this choice. Do order the eggplant saganaki from the starter section and prepare yourself for a surreal moment of foodgasm. To top it off, hop to the patisserie Kyvelia right next door, and ask for their specialty. It looks like a pudding, only tastes better!
I strongly recommend that when you visit Greece for your next vacation, you have Meteora at the top of your list. And since you wouldn’t want to miss all the historical and cultural significance of it, no trip to Meteora would be complete unless you are on a tour with an excellent guide from VisitMeteora.