Last weekend, I took a trip to Meteora and Metsovo: two cities north of Athens.
Before we reached our destination, however, we made a quick stop at Thermopylae. We saw where the mighty 300 led by King Leonidas of Sparta held off the Persians. We also saw where the remaining Spartans had their last stand some ways away. I saw the reconstructed monument to them as well as the modern, more lavish one. And since I struck my knee on the corner of the reconstructed monument, I can now say that I bled with the Spartans at Thermopylae. The only disappointing aspect was that the land had changed over time, so the path wasn’t nearly as narrow as it was in antiquity.
Meteora is known for their monasteries. These monasteries, which have been around for centuries, are located on the very tips of stone mountains. Their fortified walls reach to the very edges, patches of brilliant gardens grace the sides and lower outcrops. Some even made designs out of the flowers.
While we were in Meteora, we went to two monasteries and two nunneries. And while it sounds like this would be redundant (especially since three of them we saw on the same day), each had something unique to offer, whether it be a reconstruction of the cellar that would have been used in antiquity or claiming the title of the largest monastery in Meteora.
The churches had the most beautiful frescoes. In the narthex (or the outer chamber of the church proper) there were colorful scenes of martyrs and how they met their end. In the center panel was always the artist’s idea of the second coming, with some imagined beasts that he believed would come.
We then went to Metsovo, and while we were basically only there for a day, it was probably my favorite place on the trip. Metsovo is further north than Meteora, and for the first time since Olympia, I actually felt like it was fall. All the buildings were made out of wood or stone with woodcarvings gracing the outside and being sold in the local shops. It was the cutest place I have ever seen. And, except for the church bell that would go crazy every hour for about six minutes, Metsovo would be the place I would choose to live in should I come back and make Greece my home.