Greek: Μετέωρα (meh-tay-orr-a)
This is a considerably longer trip, and can be arranged to include an overnight stay for convenience.
The monasteries of Meteora are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and a truly breathtaking sight for all, although the journey through the Peloponnesian countryside is in and of itself something to behold. The history of Meteora stretches much farther back than the monastic buildings of the 14th-16th Century—in fact, the oldest human structure in the area dates to the Ice Age, 23,000 years ago!
While the Eastern Orthodox monks that built the monasteries are believed to have inhabited the caves of Meteora’s rock formations from as early as the 11th or 12th century, the largest and most impressive structure, the “Great Meteoron,” was founded by Athanasios the Meteorite, who first climbed the rock upon which it lies in 1344. The sheerness of the cliffs and rock formation that house the monasteries made them nigh impenetrable to the invading Ottoman forces that threatened the Greek monastic communities, and for hundreds of years, ropes and baskets were the only way of transporting anything—objects or people—to the very top.
There are few architectural equivalents to the monasteries, built into rock of the mountains themselves. At their peak, there were up to thirty functioning monasteries, and today, there are six that remain in use and can be visited. A museum dedicated to the history of the site can be found within the Great Meteoron. Although it is a long trip, everyone agrees that it is always worth the time. If you have the time, be sure to spend some time exploring Kalabaka, the town below, perhaps visiting its Mushroom Museum—the only one of its kind in the world.