Sculpted uniquely by nature within the time span of sixty million years, Meteora is a complex of enormous rock columns consisted of sandstone and conglomerate, rising majestically from the ground above a breathtakingly wild landscape in the northwestern region of Thessaly, outside Kalambaka and near the Pineios River and the Pindus Mountains.
Creating the impression of ‘hovering in the air’ (which is what the word Meteora means) from a height of 400 meters, these vast pillars and hill-shaped round boulders were formed when the river waters that covered the area centuries ago started retreating towards the sea, carrying away and piling the rocks on the bottom. Major climate changes followed and gradually the rock formation was molded into this grand and almost unreal spectacle we currently admire. Due to the particularity of the location, Meteora ideally provided shelter for monks since the 11th century, through times of both peace and war in Greece and became a host to a group of thirty monasteries, the second most important in the country after ‘Agion Oros’ (Holy Mountain) in Mount Athos. Today, only six of the thirty monasteries are operating (the Monastery of the Transfiguration of Jesus, Varlaam, St. Nicholas Anapausas , the nunnery of Rousanos, the Holy Trinity and St. Stephen) and are open to the public with an entrance fee of 3 euros for all visitors, except for Greek citizens.
A monumental treasure of archaeological, geological, historical and religious importance, Meteora is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1988.
In the shadow of the gigantic rocks of Meteora lies the scenic city of Kalambaka with its picturesque villages, a very popular all-year-round destination for tourists worldwide over the last years. Ideal for sightseeing, hiking, biking and religious tourism, Kalambaka offers decent hotels, rooms-to-let and camping sites for travellers, interesting museums, temples and churches, hagiography and wood carving workshops to visit and learn about its rich history and also a variety of cafes, taverns and restaurants where visitors can enjoy all the delicacies of the splendid regional cuisine, as well as fine wine and tsipouro from the local distilleries.
Undoubtedly, a highlight of the excursion is our stop at Thermopylae, a coastal passage in ancient times which derives its name from its hot springs (still existing today on the edge of the hill) and the steep and narrow passages through which one could reach the eastern, middle and western gates of the area. In Greek Mythology, Thermopylae symbolized the cavernous entrances of Hades and also the place where Hercules washed off the Lernaean Hydra poison that soaked his cloak, giving the springs their permanent warm temperature, but mostly it is world famous for the battle in 480BC between the outnumbered Greek troops and the substantially larger invading Persian forces. Ever since, the 300 Spartan soldiers ruled by Leonidas have become a global legend for their bravery, strength, discipline and self-sacrifice and a bright example for all Greek generations to come, as they fought for their homeland making the best possible use of their forces from a strategic point of view. To honor them, a memorial has been erected in 1955 by sculptor Vasos Falireas, consisted of the brass statue of Leonidas and on either side of him, the personified marble figures of Taigetos (the highest mountain in Peloponese) and the river Evrotas (flowing through the whole district of Laconia). On the pedestal, the phrase ‘Molon Lave’ (come and get them) is inscribed and it’s the classic phrase of defiance King Leonidas spoke when Xerxes demanded that the Spartans surrender their weapons.
|Meteora - Kalambaka - Thermopylae|
Meteora- Kalambaka - Thermopylae
(Tax Not Included)
– Fridge with beverages, water bottles and snacks.
– Telephone device to communicate with the driver.