Hiking at the swinging sketes of Meteora. Between Earth and Heaven
Hiking in Meteora
But how did they live up there?
It’s already scary thinking of them going up to the monasteries in baskets.
What, then, can you say about those who lived here?
The others were at least arriving on solid ground. These here were living over the gap.
The talk was about the sketes of Meteora.
It was there that our steps brought us, as always under the guidance of Kostas, our hiking group leader. Once again he managed to make a well-known destination seem unknown.
Skete of Saint Gregory, Pyxari rock
Who doesn’t know the monasteries of Meteora?
Great Meteoron, Varlaam Monastery, Aghia Triada (Trinity), Saint Nicholas, Saint Stephen, Rousanou Monastery. The second most important monastic complex of Greece after Mount Athos, on the UNESCO list of world heritage since 1988.
Impressive complexes, with valuable paintings and priceless relics (we’ll talk about them another time).
And of course, in a unique natural environment, with hundreds of mysterious rocks.
Monastery of Aghia Triada (Trinity). The most difficult to climb on
Rousanou Monastery. The narrowest rock
Monastery of Saint-Nicholas Anapafsas
Meteora. The unknown side
But how many know the sketes?
In the monasteries, we met thousands of pilgrims from Greece, but mainly from Russia and the Balkans.
In the sketes, in three days of hiking, we saw no more than ten people. From Western Europe and America.
A pity. Those who come to Meteora and only go to the monasteries, don’t know what they miss.
In the sketes you have the feeling of being at the core of the monastic state, at the origins of the Meteora monasticism.
The first hermits came to live here in the 10th century, four centuries before the first monasteries were built. So the sketes were the “yeast” for the thirty monasteries that once existed.
Seeing the dilapidated wooden balconies, you are awe-stricken thinking of the hermits living up there.
Skete of Saint Nicholas Badovas in the rock of the same name
The most spectacular are the so-called prisons.
Wooden platforms on many levels, like a crumbling residential building.
The monks’ prisons, in the rock of the Holy Spirit, from the bottom up. Between Earth and Heaven
Here, it is said, lived the monks who had committed offences. For as long as the penitential period stipulated.
You would say that they put them on the scariest structures to punish them.
Others say they were not prisons, but retreats of extreme hermits, who thought it a good exercise to live floating between Earth and Heaven.
A unique landscape
But the paths of Meteora offer not only the spectacle of the sketes.
I had come to the monasteries twice before. By car. Nothing showed how many things were hiding behind them. Only by walking can you understand it.
From the paths, you can see hundreds of rocks not visible from the monasteries. A variety of formulations, much greater than the one you see if you only go to the monasteries.
But here applies more than ever “one picture equals a thousand words”. Therefore, I stop here and let you grasp through images what we saw on our trip.
About the author http://culturehikes.com/index.php/en/about-me/
Gorilla – rock out of the Varlaam Monastery
Thumb – rock
About the author
Hello! I am Denis, an architect based in Athens, Greece. I teach history of art and architecture in higher education. That’s one passion of mine. The other one is hiking, in and out of town. If you follow me, I’ll share my discoveries with you.
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