The Natural Mystic of Meteora
Few places are as otherworldly as the region of Meteora in Northern Greece. Great stone monuments of natural creation erupt from a peaceful countryside. Made smooth by time and wind, these giant monoliths stand hundreds of feet above the valley below and as if they did not reach up far enough already their peaks are adorned with the climbing spires of medieval monasteries clinging to their remote perches for nearly 1,000 years in the pursuit of the isolation their near-impossible peaks promised.
Below, the sleepy towns of Kalambaka and Trikala play home to the explorers willing to make the journey north from Athens. Such curious wanderers are met with the warm welcome which can only be expected in a small town. Whether based in imagination or experience there is little difference in the reality. Language is no barrier. You are met with smiles and the friendliness of old friends while the illusion of strangers slips away with each exchange.
Those willing to rise with sun find themselves witness to the great sandstone blushing in the pink of sunrise. The light pours a palette of gold, red, and the faintest pinks into the stone. It is a gentle sight to start a day exploring the neighboring heights. Meteora hosts six monasteries, including one convent. Each site is still currently active in their intended purpose, with the oldest dating back beyond the 11th century.
These immaculate examples of Byzantine architecture are forever protected and preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, capturing these masterpieces in time to be observed and experienced. For the exchange of a small fee, each monastery can be toured with the proceeds going to the sustainment of the monks and nuns living there. Perhaps the greatest allure is the prohibition of photography within each site. This is a place you must go and see to understand, not through a lens but with your eyes. It demands your pilgrimage to its steps to understand the gilded, jaw-dropping secrets of their dazzling interiors.
There is a powerful energy to sanctuaries like these. It's the same natural phenomenon which called upon the first peoples who decided to build upon it. It's powerful and draws thousands of visitors each year. It means something different to everyone. While walking through the halls of one monastery the haunting tones of a choir whispered from the inner rooms. Following these notes, to their source, I found a group of travelers, like me, who came all this way to sing in this chamber. I could not understand the words but the time and place of where I was hit me with an unexpected weight. I was a part of something special in this room. Something holy. The congregation of all these people, come together in the celebration of natural wonder.
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