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After visiting the monasteries of the Meteora, you may find it a relief to know that there's only one church to see back in Kalambaka: the 12th-century Cathedral of the Dormition of the Virgin, which is often locked. If it's open, take a look at the frescoes, which date from the 12th to the 16th centuries. Keep an eye out for the ancient marble blocks and column drums pilfered by this church's builders from the earlier Temple of Apollo. An admission fee of 2€ is sometimes charged.

For a complete change of subject and mood, head to the Center of Contemporary Art, 38 Patriarchou Dimitriou (tel. 24320/22-346), which houses the extensive private collection of Leonidas Beltsios, the important contemporary Greek art collector. The museum is officially open daily 9am to 3pm and 5 to 9pm.

The Meteora Monasteries

The road from Kalambaka through the Meteora takes you past Ayios Nikolaos, Roussanou, the Great Meteoron, Varlaam, Ayia Triada, and Ayios Stephanos. Perhaps most impressive about the Meteora is the visual from the plain, as one approaches, of the bizarre and stunning visual melding of monasteries and cliffs. If you have time to visit only one monastery, it should be the Great Meteoron. You can chat with the monks and enjoy stunning views through the forest of rocks from monastery to monastery. You'll find souvenir stands and places to buy bottled water or soft drinks (but usually no food) outside most of the monasteries.

We've listed the individual phone numbers for each monastery, but don't be surprised if no one answers: Telephones and the monastic life are not compatible, although an increasing number of monks have cellphones tucked in their monastic robes. There is a central number for the monasteries (tel. 24320/22-649); again, do not be surprised if no one answers. And (sorry) also don't be surprised if you find one or more of the monasteries closed -- usually the one you've just climbed a long series of rock-cut steps to reach.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.