Visiting Meteora with Kids
We went on a day trip to Meteora with kids, to visit the Orthodox monasteries that are situated on the top of cliffs. If you want to enter these mystical monasteries, be ready for a lot of climbing. We all know that climbing the stairs is excellent for motor skills development in early childhood and for losing weight in parenthood.
Six monasteries to visit
In former times, there were twenty-four monasteries, but today there are only six – one being female (for nuns). Meteora is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In other words, this is a magical place worth visiting (at least) once in a lifetime.
This supernatural combination of nature and architecture is not on some other planet like it looks. It is located about 360 kilometers from Athens.
How did they do it? This is the first thing most people ask when seeing Meteora. I still haven’t figured out how these monasteries were built on top of these cliffs. It is truly mystical. This is one of those places where you and your kids have something in common because you both start believing in unbelievable stories. There are many myths and legends related to Meteora. According to one of them, the founder of the first monastery did not come up alone but was brought up by an eagle.
There are also some more realistic explanations: The actual construction of the monastery would take a month, but to bring the building materials to the top of the rocks using the coils, ropes, and baskets took more than twenty years! Stone by stone.
These rocks are up to 550 meters high and with the monasteries built on top of them, they are absolutely breathtaking to look at! Monks who fled the Turks in this part of Greece around the 12th century decided to build the monasteries on these rocks to find peace and, of course, be closer to God. Literally and spiritually.
There are currently six fully-functional monasteries with monks and nuns living there, and each one is open for tourists. We managed to visit 3 of them: The great Meteoron (although we saw it just from the outside), Rousannou Monastery and the monastery of Agia Triada.
1. The Great Meteoron
The Great Meteoron (Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ) is the oldest, highest and largest of the six monasteries of Meteora. We didn’t go inside mainly because we didn’t want the kids to see the skulls and bones of previous residents that are neatly stacked on its shelves. Also, there are too many steps. Not to worry if you can’t climb though; you can still enjoy this amazing place from the outside.
2. Nun monastery
Rousannou is the only monastery in Meteora that is run by nuns. It stands on a lower rock and is easily accessible by a bridge built of wood, so maybe that is the best one to go to with kids.
Inside the monastery, there is an old mystical chapel with 16th-century frescos. I got the impression that these nuns don’t have enough peace because there were so many tourists around.
3. James Bond movie in Meteora
One of the best James Bond movies, “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) was shot on the impressive cliffs of Meteora and particularly in the monastery of Agia Triada.
One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is taken on the high cliffs of that monastery. James Bond reaches the monastery in one of the baskets which are indeed high above the ground.
Bond is afraid of heights and the word on the street is that he had to drink a bit to calm his nerves down.
It wasn’t easy to make a movie of this content at this sacred place. Many of the monks were opposed to the shooting of the scenes and attempted to sabotage the filming by hanging their laundry outside and preventing the crew’s helicopters from landing. After many protests, the production found a solution by building a similar scenographic monastery at a nearby unoccupied rock.
James Bond told the monks that “once he was a saint himself”. It is hard to believe, but one thing is certain – children are already saints.
Our kids also wanted to go in the basket but we told them that cats have 9 lives and people only have one. A good thing is that this place inspires you to believe that life is eternal.
Details about visiting the monasteries in Meteora, opening hours and other information can be found here.
If you travel to Greece, you might find some inspiration in our travel stories, because we aim to look at things from a unique point of view.