Our small-ship Aegean Odyssey takes her guests to some of the most historical and beautiful places in the world in true style and ultimate comfort, and two of the regions that we sail – the Adriatic and the Aegean – are always firm favourites. To celebrate these fascinating areas of our world, we wanted to highlight some of the wonderful things you can see and do with us on voyages here, and today we are taking a closer look at the Monasteries of Meteora, an incredible site that can be visited on our included tour in Volos, Greece.
The sight of the Byzantine masteries, built atop almost inaccessible sandstone peaks, is quite possibly the main highlight of any trip to Greece. The word Meteora literally means “suspended in air” and that word fits beautifully.
The sandstone columns project high into the sky above the town of Kalambaka and soar up over 1,000 feet above sea level. The peaks themselves and incredibly impressive, but it’s what you will find at the top that is most satisfying. It is estimated that there were originally 24 monasteries at Meteora, but only 6 of them have survived through the centuries and remain operational – the majority of which date to the 14th and through to the 16th century. These monasteries were built by monks whom had previously lived in the area in individual caves, essentially, they lived a very much secluded life away from the rest of the world. It took the monks years to carry the construction materials that they would need to the top of the rocks, but with much determination they succeeded. With that determination and the equipment they needed, they proceeded to build incredible monasteries atop the highest peaks.
As previously mentioned, 6 of the monasteries have survived over the years and are still inhabited – 2 of them are nunneries. They are: Great Meteoron Monastery, the biggest and oldest of them all; Varlaam Monastery, the second largest; Roussanou Monastery; Holy Trinity Monastery, the most difficult of the 6 to reach; St. Nikolas Anapafsas Monastery, the first you will come across; and St. Stephen’s Monastery, the easiest of all 6 to reach.
The drive to Meteora from the ship is approx. 2 hours and takes you across the fertile plain of Thessaly, the country of the mythical centaurs and the site of a battle between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great. The journey time is certainly worth the end result, there’s nothing else on earth quite like Meteora.
Aegean Odyssey will be transporting her guests to this amazing place on several sailings this Spring, including ‘The Black Sea & Greek Islands‘, ‘Grand Black Sea & Southern Italy‘ and ‘Grand Classical Greece & Black Sea‘.