Meteora: first impressions for Travel Photo Monday

A panoramic view from above at Meteora, Greece

A panoramic view from above at Meteora, Greece

Meteora: first impressions for Travel Photo Monday

 

The unique landscape and hilltop karst and rocky promontories at Meteora along the Northernmost mountain range of the Greece is so far removed from the loud and touristy islands in the Greek Aegean coast. But maybe being here during the winter also has something to do with the sparse crowds in the village and around the national park.

As part of the Unesco World Heritage Sites, this impressive national park is filled with amazing landscapes, vistas and these bizarre monasteries precipitously perked on top of craggy cliffs and almost isolated karst formations. Built for safety from persecution and seclusion from worldly materials and desires, the monasteries were situated for total isolation and no access.  There are even holes and caves in many of the sheer cliffs that were early conversions of hermits going to the area and leaving everything behind to be in total isolation and absolute focus on the spiritual aspects of their holy lives.

Coming to this areas in the off-season for me is absolutely the right choice with minimal crowds and Disney like lines which I’m sure this place would typically be counting from the myriads of cheap Souvlaki stands and inexpensive cafes closed for the season.  That’s fine with me because the die-hard establishments are the real survivors and live there year round.

 

 

Meteora: first impressions for Travel Photo Monday

Meteora: first impressions for Travel Photo Monday

First solo tour and off the beaten path in Meteora

Arriving late in the afternoon, I couldn’t wait to do my first solo excursion of the area with a suggestion from a local guide on a nearby hike that is truly off the beaten path from the typical visits to the area. I strike out on foot to a hilly trail from the village and begin a quick accent through a small valley and immediately notice these sheer cliffs with strange holes and ladders barely there and not connecting to anything in particular. I learn later that this area housed the many early Christian hermits that came for safety and to be spiritually isolated from the rest of the world.  Except that they had to rely on the handouts of locals that fed them and asked for help and spiritual aid or blessings.

 

 

A road leading to an off the beaten path area in Meteora

A road leading to an off the beaten path area in Meteora

 

The afternoon light is hazy but still warm and rosy. It is starting to fade quickly even though it is only 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I make a hasty trek a little further to investigate some of the deserted cliff monasteries and my first view of an intact monastery which has also been abandoned. It seemed so dark and mysterious seeing these deserted places high up on a hill and only accessible by ladders or later through pulleys and carts to carry provisions. I couldn’t even imagine how stark and basic life must have been, but also very precious so that enabled these spiritual individuals to practice their religious beliefs freely .

 

Unusual geology formations in Meteora, Greece

Unusual geology formations in Meteora, Greece

 

Cave dwellings of the early hermits to Meteora

Hermit dwellings of early Christians in Meteora

Hermit dwellings of early Christians in Meteora

 

An abandoned monastery set in the cliffs

 

Abandoned monastery set in a cliff in Meteora

Abandoned monastery set in a cliff in Meteora

 

The sun had started to fade behind some clouds and suddenly the warm sunset became as cold as rocks and knowing that this was the winter, it would be very cold and windy in no time. I head back down the trail towards the old village called Kastraki and looked forward to another exciting day ahead of hiking and seeing more of these fantastic spiritual castles in the sky. On the way down, the sun had a last hurrah and lit up the orchards and vineyards below, quite a lovely don’t you think?

 

Landscape and vineyards late in the afternoon at Meteora

Landscape and vineyards late in the afternoon at Meteora

 

Looking into the valley below and the dull greyish brown cliffs, I noticed the first monastery sitting on one of the smaller karst and almost hidden from view, it was a very special moment in my book and one I’ll remember well from this first hike.

 

A lonely monastery dwarfed by huge mountains in Meteora

A lonely monastery dwarfed by huge mountains in Meteora

 

Thanks for visiting and reading my first impressions of Meteora, I hope that you enjoyed your visit. If so, please do share this post with any of the social media buttons listed around the post. Please do check out the other bloggers below participating today for Travel Photo Mondays.

, , , , , ,

23 Responses to Meteora: first impressions for Travel Photo Monday

  1. Rahman @ Iran Tours February 19, 2015 at 12:58 am #

    I agree with off-season traveling to certain places. You should have enjoyed the serenity of the palace much more than those who travel in high season.

    BTW, when did the hermits lived in those caves?

  2. Photo(geo)grapher February 18, 2015 at 9:22 am #

    Great post. Amazing photos

  3. bettyl - NZ February 17, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    These are some lovely mountains! I love to see all the layers and colors. It’s amazing that people climbed them to get away from people and practice their religion.

  4. The GypsyNesters February 17, 2015 at 4:46 am #

    Wow, the cliff dwellings are amazing! Your photos are something to look forward to every Monday.

  5. Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru February 16, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    Wow, what great lengths the monks and hermits had to go to. Your photos have such a mystical quality to them, befitting the ancient energy in this place. Lovely.

  6. Suzanne Stavert February 16, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Amazing! Loved the abandoned monastery! You are helping me to create an itinerary!

  7. Carole Terwilliger Meyers February 16, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    Meteora does have an other-worldly feel. I was delighted to see the abandoned early cave sites and especially that one fitted so nicely into the cliff wall. I doubt I’ll ever have the opportunity to see this in person, so thanks for taking me along on your photo journey.

  8. Denis Gagnon February 16, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    Great post. I can’t believe that I have not been there yet, despite all our travels to Greece over the years. Thanks for giving us many reasons to put it on our list.

  9. Cindy - ExplorationVacation February 16, 2015 at 7:15 am #

    What great images! I don’t think I’ve actually seen pictures that show the overall landscape, usually they are just focused in on the structures. Sounds like “off season” is a great time to visit. Looking forward to more from this trip – Greece is still on my must get to list!

  10. Susan Moore February 16, 2015 at 3:56 am #

    Extraordinary and magical place! Your photos capture this amazing landscape beautifully, makes me want to go there. Looks like it would be a wonderful hiking trip for me to take in Greece, and I never associated Greece with hiking before.

  11. Michele Peterson ( A Taste for Travel) February 16, 2015 at 3:41 am #

    A beautiful post! I’ve long wanted to go to Meteora as I didn’t have time on my last visit to Greece. Most images I’ve seen of Meteora show only the buildings at a distance so its especially interesting to see the different perspectives of it closer up. Gorgeous!

  12. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go February 16, 2015 at 2:36 am #

    We also like avoiding the crowds by traveling during the off-season or to off-the-beaten-path places and Meteora looks like a gem! How interesting to learn the history of this intriguing place but, I have to confess, it’s hard to imagine the appeal of actually living as a hermit in a cave dwelling…

  13. budget jan February 16, 2015 at 1:36 am #

    The panoramic view over Meteora is magnificent. It would have been breathtaking to be there. The notion of giving up possessions and living an isolated existence would be OK for a while but is hard to imagine forever. The light on the rocks is captured beautifully. I agree that the off season would be perfect to visit, as long as the weather was good. Lines are not for me.

  14. Amila February 16, 2015 at 12:10 am #

    This place looks wonderful….Amazing views of the mountains and beautiful captures too….

  15. santafetraveler February 15, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

    Never heard of Meteora- thanks for introducing me. It looks wonderful!

  16. Donna Janke February 15, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

    Mereora looks beautiful. Great photos. I didn’t know there were cave dwellings in Greece.

  17. Charles McCool February 15, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

    Great pictures, Noel.

  18. the cape on the corner February 15, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    wow, that is amazing!
    b

  19. rajlakshmi February 15, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    Gosh!! how do you find all these places. The first picture took my breath away. Greece is indeed a must visit place.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Expat homes, Mérida, Mexico | Exploration Vacation - February 16, 2015

    […] post is linked to Travel Photo Monday at Travel Photo Discovery where you can take a virtual tour of Meteora, Greece, and other spots […]

  2. Drayton Hall: South Carolina plantation offers an unretouched look back - More Time to Travel - February 16, 2015

    […] This post is part of a Linkup with Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Discovery. […]

  3. Love & Peace | Travel with Intent - February 15, 2015

    […] Linked to Thursday Special and Travel Photo Monday. […]

  4. Deer and Daibutsu at Nara - February 15, 2015

    […] Go and say Hi to Noel over at Travel Photo Discovery for Travel Photo Monday […]

Leave a Reply