Thank you to the Imperial Palace Hotel for hosting me. As always, all opinions and recommendations are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.I couldn’t believe our trip in Greece was almost over! The final part of our mainland tour included Meteora, Philippi and Thessaloniki. I was very excited because upon reflecting on the trip that started in Santorini, we couldn’t believe all that Greece had to show us! Then there was Athens and it fulfilled a lot on my bucket list in the history department. After our time in Zakynthos, I was just blown away. Delphi and Parga continued to show Greece off as well. Now it was unfortunately time to finish the trip. This is Detailing Greece: Meteora to Thessaloniki!
This is Meteora. It definitely has an inspiring quality to it and was the kind of place where I just stood staring in awe of God’s creation.
This is St. George Madilas which means “St. George with the scarves”. Dedicated to St. George, this is the most popular cave in Meteora. Based on the story that St. George cured a man from a severed hand after he offered his wife’s veil, it’s an annual tradition for believers to symbolize the honor of the act of donation by hanging colorful scarves in the cave. There is an annual climbing competition to take down the old scarves and the successful climbers take the scarves home as a token of good luck.
To me, Meteora looked like the perfect setting for a Harry Potter movie. While I haven’t seen a single one of those movies, it was still my first thought. It looks like a fairytale!
There are several monasteries in Meteora, but one of the oldest still existing and one of the six still occupied is the Monastery of the Holy Trinity. See that little cable car on the line? If you are a member, you can take that across. Otherwise, you have to climb the steps. Hey, it’s only 1,312 feet (400 meters) high! 😉
Out back behind the monastery, we found this cross…
and this view of all of Meteora. It was beautiful and serene!
Dedicated to St Barbara and one of the six still occupied monasteries, the Roussanou Monastery is a nunnery. It has been inhabited by around 13 nuns since 1988.
I was in awe of Meteora. This seriously needs to be on your list. It’s truly different! Thank you to Amanda for this photo!
Next up, Alex our driver from Hellenic Private Tours took us to Philippi. Philippi was a specific location I was excited about seeing. It has so much rich biblical history and I have heard and read so much about it. Here is where the Apostle Paul established the first Christian Church of Europe in 49 or 50 AD.
We started our day visiting an archaeological site. We saw the Ancient Theater of Philippi first.
Keeping the preservation of many of its original artifacts, the theater has undergone several changes along with interventions so that it can host the annual Philippi Festival.
Next we saw the Octagon at Philippi. The Octagon is the metropolitan church at Philippi dedicated to the Apostle Paul.
After leaving the archaeological site, we went to the Baptistry of St. Lydia. This is the octagonal church and baptistry that was built in her honor.
The inside is very ornate and beautiful. It very appropriately had the color purple in it. Lydia was a seller of purple cloth.
This is the inside of the dome.
This is from the back looking out to the front. Isn’t it gorgeous?!?
This is the river Zygakti. This is where it is believed that Paul baptized Lydia who was the first Christian in Europe.
Today, the baptistry is open and they hold marriage ceremonies in addition to baptisms. Every year on May 20 to celebrate St. Lydia of Philippisias, Christians come to be baptized here in the same place as she!
After leaving Philippi, we stopped for a quick look around Kavala. A city in Macedonia, Kavala was previously known in Antiquity as Neapolis which means “like new”. It was renamed during the Middle Ages to Christoupolis which means “City of Christ”.
Kavala (Neapolis then) was the first European city Paul visited and his first steps on European soil. This is the Church of St Nikolaus which has a mosaic dedicated to Paul.
The mosaic depicts Acts 16:9-11 where Paul had a vision of a Macedonian man begging him to come help them and then detailing how they left immediately and came ashore.
Had to go down to the water and check it out!
Good morning Thessaloniki! Although we didn’t have a lot of time here and it marked the end of our time in Greece, we enjoyed this pretty coastal city! If you are needing one, this is a fantastic complete guide to Thessaloniki!
Imperial Palace Hotel
We stayed in the beautiful Imperial Palace Hotel in the Aphrodite Suite. The entire hotel is beautifully ornate.
The room was very spacious with multiple sitting areas.
Great view of Thessaloniki from our balcony! The hotel is located right in the city center so it’s very convenient to most anywhere!
We also had a fabulous and convenient breakfast buffet in the morning. I highly recommend staying here. You can’t beat the convenience, the nice rooms and the very friendly hotel staff!
This shot perfectly symbolizes the beauty of this country and the sunset of a trip that left me with memories of a lifetime!
Just like that, our time in both Thessaloniki and Greece was coming to a close. We flew out the next morning heading for Amsterdam.
Just like it did on the ground, Greece displayed its aerial beauty for us too!
I hated to say goodbye to Greece. I honestly didn’t want to leave. It definitely exceeded my expectations! There are so many reasons to visit this beautiful country with scenery, history and friendly people being at the top. Don’t forget places like Meteora, Philippi, Kavala and Thessaloniki. While maybe not as publicized, they have so much to offer!
As always, let me know if you have been and what your favorites were while there! Don’t miss my 36 Hours in Amsterdam on my home!
‘Til next time…