Timeless Towers of Faith

The area around Meteora, with its breathtaking views and the monasteries that hang over the edge of cliffs is actually much smaller than I expected it to be. However, the views from the viewpoints are absolutely breathtaking

We all know how lovely it is to wake up in your own bed after a good night’s sleep. You feel fresh, rested and safe, in familiar surroundings. I always have a problem getting a good night's sleep when I am away from home, at least for the first couple of nights. After this, things get a bit better. However, there is something that we landscape photographers can trade in – instead of our comfortable beds, we prefer starting the day staring at a splendid sunrise in a location which is out of this world.

As I mentioned in my previous article, I was on my way from Zagoria to Meteora in Greece. I managed to get there early and drove around, so I had a good idea of what the place looked like, especially in warm sunset light. However, nothing prepared me for what the location had in store for me the following morning – even though I generally prefer a stunning sunrise to a sunset as the air is cleaner, everyone is still sleeping and only nature is waking up from its deep night trance.

Having left the hotel behind me, I took the narrow, winding and slightly steep ring road that surrounds the main area of Meteora. The area around Meteora, with its breathtaking views and the monasteries that hang over the edge of cliffs was actually much smaller than I expected it to be. Taking the ring road, one can drive around it in less than thirty minutes. As you can understand, within five minutes I was on location and ready to compose a picture.

The area used to be inaccessible to humans. The only way to the monasteries was by using baskets and ropes from the cliffs below. At some point there was a decision to create a ring road. Anyone could now visit the area and admire the incredible views, something that used to be a privilege that only the local monks could enjoy.

However, building a ring road in such a location comes with compromises. Due to the way the grounds are paved, the main and best views can be enjoyed from the series of lay-byes. Easy access, I hear you saying and I would partly agree. On the other hand, though, this means that there are few choices when it comes to composition. It is extremely difficult to come up with a completely different version of the classic compositions. Nevertheless, I found that this did not worry me too much and it did not stop me from taking photographs for almost the whole day.

Once I was out on location that morning, I chose to be content with one of the classic compositions. It was my first morning after all. Very soon, dawn was breaking and there was a lovely soft light across the horizon; pure bliss… There was one thing missing though. I was expecting some mist to cover the valley at this time of year – this changes the breathtaking views to something extraordinary. Well, it never happened as the weather had been extremely dry in the past two months. In all honesty, I couldn't believe my eyes. Was this a location in Greece, the country I was born in or was it a far distant place from a fairy tale book?

I stayed at Meteora for three more days and every time I was on the ring road, I kept pinching myself, just to make sure I was awake and not floating in a faraway dream.

I will be back there again in October this year and I hope to have this outstanding experience again. There is no way to do the place justice through a two dimensional picture, no matter how good the picture is. You need to be there, to stand by the cliffs, to breathe the fresh early morning air and to experience a breathtaking sunrise for yourself. Join me, I guarantee you will be in for a once in a lifetime experience!

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