Monasteries in the Sky

A magnificent formation of colossal rocks that seem to rise relentlessly up into the sky lies some 400 kilometres north of Athens. At the top of some of these rocks are monasteries founded as early as the 1300s.

This mythical existence of a place is Meteora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and historical gem, that was also made famous by a 1981 James Bond movie starring Sean Connery.
Why and how monks, unless hermits, chose to make their cells up there eons ago is a mystery but there are only six functioning monasteries today. We went to three in one morning – Rossanou, Varlaam and St Stephens. The fourth – Grand Meteoron – was closed for the day. Just as well because the walk up the staircase leading up to that one looked pretty intimidating. Heights are really not my favourite thing.
All three we went to had a little church each where mass and prayers were held. They all had what is termed ‘ecumenical radiance’ in the small but richly decorated domes and altars. Their surroundings vary and the views from each peak are completely dependent on where upon they are perched.

The walk up the Rossanou and Varlaam was a bit of a workout but worth the sweat. Access to St Stephens was very easy since it was a straight walk in. But for all, I had to cross bridges suspended near the peak between two rocks. Quite the adventure for someone with acrophobia.


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