Meteora cliff-top monasteries & beautiful northern Greece to Albania

“Middle of the sky”, “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above” are literal translations of Meteora, which is one of the most significant and largest Eastern Orthodox monastery complexes in Greece. Six monasteries sit amazingly built on top of sandstone pillars. Caves in the area were continuously inhabited between 50,000 and 5,000 years ago. A group of hermit monks moved onto the pinnacles in the 9th century AD, and became the first inhabitants since Neolithic era. They led lives of solitude and had very few visitors because of the difficulty getting up. Nobody knows when the monasteries were started, but from 1356-1372 the Meteoran monastery on Broad Rock was founded by a group from Mount Athos. When the Byzantine Empire started losing control over Greece, with the Turks threatening, the location was a perfect refuge for the monks. In the 14th century they began building over 20 monasteries (six are left).

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I got in as the sun was on it’s way out and had a little while to take a first look around. What a beautiful place. The stone monasteries sit perched on the tip-top of high crags looking over the valley and far-off mountains.

The multi-colored rock, orange tiled roofs, and lush green below creates a gorgeous contrast of colors.

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A couple of viewpoints set you up perfectly to look down through all of Meteora as the orange sunset fades away to the west.

Just up from Meteora, there’s some nice spots to set up camp overlooking the lowlands backed by the Pindus Mountain range.

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As the road curls down, the first morning rays hit the cream-colored stone of the monasteries.

Some places end up not being as amazing as the pictures you’d seen, but not here. The beauty and impressiveness of it definitely can’t be captured in a picture.

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The rock is a outcroppings are a blast to climb around on. Spring has brought out wild-flowers and the beautiful purplish-pink blossoms of the Judas trees.

Instead of poking around in all the monasteries, I picked one. The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoran won because it’s name sounded the best and towered above the rest.

The hand-signs in the paintings are so similar to other religions.

A cool place to experience.

And a tour-bus from Taiwan got quite the kick out of me, and apparently I was “very photogenic”.

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A day riding over pretty mountain passes took me towards the west coast of Greece. Instead of traveling on the new motorway full of long tunnels through the mountains and pesky tolls, I took the old road, which runs close to the new one. The main difference is instead of riding through the massive peaks you ride over them, and instead of long straightaways you have twisting hairpin curves. The main pass had signs at the two ends saying it was closed, but I had no problem getting over and had the entire thing to myself.

It used to be the main route and had cafes and shops along the way, but after the new motorway was built, they were all abandoned. It was actually a cafe owner who had recommended the route to me, and had pics of a friend going over it five days before when it was covered in snow. It has virtually all melted by the time I rode over.

All through Greece you see roadside shrines. Rusted steel, crumbling concrete, bright-colors, and stone create all shapes and sizes. Different meanings or dedications are behind each of them. Inside they range from empty to full of candles, portraits, and random tid-bits.

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I camped on a beach just north of Igoumentisa with views out to the island of Corfu.

My idea was to catch the ferry out the next morning, but ideas change. Over the night, a storm began to push in and the skies grew eerily dark grey. Corfu was now barely visible. A peak at the weather online showed two and a half days of rain, and riding up into Albania became the new plan. After a stretch of camping, a hot shower, comfy bed, good company, and a place to hide out from the rain sounded pretty good. Thus I said goodbye to Greece and made the short ride along the coast and up into the hills to the Albanian border and on towards Sarande.

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About Trueworldtravels

Following my heart around the planet. Bringing to life the unique world around us through writing and photography.
This entry was posted in adventure travel, camping, greece travel, Kawasaki KLR650, Motorcycle world travel, Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Meteora cliff-top monasteries & beautiful northern Greece to Albania

  1. ellengerl57 says:

    I would live to see that area in person and walk around those monestaties. Your pictures are beautiful & I know it must be even better in person.

    Like

  2. Tiffany Kreitzberg says:

    I love everything about these photos, especially the blooming Judas trees. What a spiritual place.

    Like

  3. Janet Hill says:

    What a beautiful photo journal of an ancient and remote land. The roadside shrines are very fascinating! Travel safely, and continue keeping your followers up to date on your adventures!

    Like

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