Detour Worth Making: Get High in Meteora, Greece

The Greek word meteora means “suspended in the air,” and one look at the images of the monasteries here, and you’ll know why the Greeks named it that. Pretty much in the middle of — but high above! — the country, the rock here has eroded into fantastic, weathered peaks struggling for the heavens.

The monasteries of Meteora were originally settled by monks who lived in caves lower down the rocks during the 11th Century. Over time, however, to avoid conflicts in the rest of the region, the monks retreated up the rock face until they were living on virtually inaccessable peaks that they built on by bringing material and people up via ladders and baskets.

Today, six monasteries remain, and all of them are open to visitors. Many people who visit Meteora stay overnight either in nearby towns, though there is limited accommodation in Meteora. Buses to Kalampaka are available from Ioannina, Trikala, Thessaloniki and Athens, and trains run there, too.

For a little information about each monastery, check out Greece Travel. For some stunning images, check out Tom Dempsey’s photo gallery or, of course, Flickr.