Meteora. The poet and painter Edward Lear, once wrote that no pen or pencil is capable of describing the monasteries in the mountains of Meteora. A Daily Mail journalist, who visited the mystical mountains in Thessaly, confirms it and also feels lucky to have lived it!
His three-day trip to the heart of Greece, as he recounts, was a unique experience. Thomas Hodkinson’s trip started at Thessaloniki. Arriving in Meteora, he saw the enormous stones inexplicably rising from the midst of the plains. The first images. The first feelings. The thoughts that became words in order for the travelling tribute entitled “Absolute peace: Mystic mountains, divine view – The monasteries on the peaks of Meteora are heavenly”, to be written.
Describing the place using a short journey through time, the British traveller – because that’s how you experience the journey, whatever your role – explains in a few lines how the huge stone volumes have been there for more than a thousand years. The first inhabitants were the hermits. They sought isolation and calm, but also communication with something superior, something that is inconceivable to the human mind.
The monks followed. Hunted by the Ottoman Empire, they searched and found the perfect place to live. St. Athanasios Meteoritis, as Hodkinson writes, was one of the first to live there. Together with Elder Gregory, they lived in the fissures of the rocks. These were the first residences of Meteora.
The Great Meteor
In the short presentation of this special area of our country, reference is made to the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior, also known as the Great Meteor. It is located at the highest point of Meteora, at 534 meters, and since 1988 it has been included in UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
From his tour, travelling and knowing Greece, Thomas Hodkinson was impressed by the amazing art he encountered in all the monasteries he visited and transferred it to his text, combined with the unique view. He also distinguished the Varlaam Monastery and the mural depicting the Second Coming, in addition to the Great Meteor.
The eagle and the tourist
His lyrical epilogue pushes you to prepare your luggage and make this trip for yourself. Even if you’ve been there in the past, or if you haven’t included Meteora to your destinations, which would be a great mistake. Meteora is less than 4 hours from Athens and more than 2.5 hours from Thessaloniki.
So the Daily Mail columnist writes: “Living like an eagle in the fresh air without anything distracting you from reading books and reflecting upon them, must be an extraordinary way of life and so it is for the monks of the monasteries that are still operative.” Since we are not eagles but bourgeois, let’s keep his last sentence “As a tourist, you will only take a look, but this will be unforgettable to you”.