Mountains and monasteries in Meteora

mountains and monasteries in meteora

Camera IconSt Stephen’s Nunnery, Meteora. Credit: Steve McKenna/Supplied

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Think of Greece and you’ll probably picture Athens, those amazing ancient ruins and the country’s array of magical islands.

But treasures abound, too, in the rugged mountainous interior of the Greek mainland — and there’s arguably no destination more jaw-dropping than Meteora.

Rising from the country’s most fertile valley — 350km north of the capital, a four-hour drive along the main highways — Meteora comprises a series of surreal pinnacles, which were hewn by the elements over millions of years.

Not just visually spectacular — our coach takes a touring route snaking past these other-wordly rock formations — they’re home to a cluster of medieval monasteries which cling precariously to clifftops up to 600 metres high.

Scaled by 007 (Roger Moore) in the 1981 James Bond flick For Your Eyes Only, these monasteries — six remain active — are home to a 60-strong community of monks and nuns. In the old days — we’re talking from the 11th century — holy men would clamber up ropes and nets to reach the top and they’d bunker down here, as hermits, often to avoid religious persecution, as invaders such as the Ottoman Turks, occupied Greece…

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