Heavenly heights

Visit the mysterious monasteries of Meteora

There are few sights as enigmatic and inspiring as Meteora, in the heart of mainland Greece. These vertical pinnacles and sheer cliffs reaching hundreds of metres up towards the sky from the valley below are not only a natural wonder, but they are the site of a network of ancient Eastern Orthodox monasteries that have been shrouded in mystery for centuries, the perfect location for isolation and religious contemplation.

The pinnacles were first home to an ascetic group of hermit monks in the ninth century, who fashioned their living spaces in the hollows and fissures of the rock towers, some teetering as high as 550 metres (1,800 feet) above the plain below. By the 12th century, a fully-fledged monastery community had been created at Meteora, and as a way to escape the oncoming Turkish raiders of the Byzantine Empire in the 14th century, the number of monasteries at the site swelled to 20.

For centuries, the only way of moving people and goods between the monasteries on the pinnacles and the plains below was by way of baskets attached to ropes and pulleys, or removable ladders, though this was upgraded to steps and bridges over time. During WWII, the monasteries were looted and bombed, causing a deal of destruction.

But the monasteries of Meteora remain an unmissable place to visit while you charter a yacht in Greece. Today, only six monasteries remain at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and they are considered a place of Christian pilgrimage as well as a site of archaeological importance.

Their mysterious setting and ambience mean that the monasteries have been used in various books and films, including the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only as well as World War Z and Tintin and the Golden Fleece. Fans of Game of Thrones will be interested to learn that the Eyrie of Vale of the House of Arryn is based on Meteora.

Although Meteora is located well into the mainland, it is still a must-see attraction for anyone chartering a superyacht in Greece, in particular those cruising in the Northern Aegean region. Simply jump in a helicopter for the fastest and most comfortable route to Meteora, where a knowledgeable private guide will show you around this fascinating site. Enjoy a private hilltop lunch overlooking the spectacular panorama and learn about the unique history of this remarkable landmark before returning to your yacht in time for sundowners on board.