A Special Place called Meteora

by Ann de Bruyn

Lazar Gintchin

Lazar Gintchin

Colorado based, Lazar Gintchin is a landscape photographer who has created a portfolio of nature and landscape images with a wide variety from around the world. Although he lives close to the mountains and often photographs there, he travels both within the US and internationally in search of magical landscapes. He creates “windows to nature” through museum quality large format photo art prints. His goal is to make the viewer of his artwork feel as if they are looking out through a window, into the scene that he captured with a camera.

Gintchin’s fine art prints have been sold in various galleries throughout Colorado and are a prized possession for both US and international art owners. His distinguished style is the classic panoramic (1x3) photography format, which depicts the natural beauty in a wide view.

gintchinfineart.com

History of Meteora

In Greece, the word “Meteora” means “middle of the sky”, “suspended in the air”, or “in the heavens above”. The area is named this way because of the ancient monasteries built on top of dangerous rock pillars. The buildings’ outer walls often come right to the edge of high cliff walls, which can be thousands of feet high. A basic monastic state was established sometime around the 11th and 12th centuries. Even though at some point there were a total of 24 monasteries, today only 6 monasteries remain.

Meteora is located in central Greece near the town of Kalabaka. Athanasios Koinovitis from Mount Athos, Greece, came to Meteora in the year 1344. He was joined by a group of followers, who were drawn to some local hermit-monks. The monks had already been dwelling in the rocks near Meteora. Inspired by the monks, Koinovitis and his followers also settled there. They ended up building the Great Meteoron Monastery between 1356 and 1372.

Amongmonoliths Ancientbeauty

Unique and Different

When it comes to photography my passion is nature and landscape scenes.

These structures are so audacious because of how dangerously close they are to thousands of feet of vertical cliff walls.

Normally I am not drawn to capturing buildings and architecture in general. However, with Meteora, it was different for me. The monastery buildings blend so well with the natural environment and they look like they have been there forever. These structures are so audacious because of how dangerously close they are to thousands of feet of vertical cliff walls. In addition, most of them are surrounded by nothing but vertical cliff walls. All of this creates mystery and beauty at the same time.

The Meteora views are so unique and different from anything else. Yes, cliff dwellings exist all over the world, but this is different. These are entire multi-building monasteries with gardens, yards, and plants on top of giant rock monoliths. When you first see a picture of a Meteora monastery your brain needs a moment to register what you are looking at. It gives you an interesting momentary experience of being confused and attracted at the same time. After that initial moment of shock, you find yourself wondering how that building ended up on top of such a hard to get to place.

Camouflage

I was, and still am, very attracted to capturing images of Meteora. The most striking parts for me personally are the uniqueness of the landscape and its beauty. The cliffs are daunting, yet they draw you in. They look like they shouldn’t be there, but yet they are. They also have this ancient feel to them that you just do not see everywhere. The valleys are gorgeous and full of vegetation, which creeps up in between the narrow openings among the tall towers. There are also mountains just a short distance from there, which also provide a magnificent backdrop for photography.

In addition, the 6 monasteries are spread out throughout the terrain, creating a charming community in nature. They fit the landscape perfectly and in a way compliment it as few man-made structures do. The views are spectacular pretty much in all directions and open nature and landscape photography opportunities around every corner.

Finally, Meteora is just full of charm and that is why it draws so many visitors annually. The summer sunsets are gorgeous and the viewing locations are in abundance. In short, all of the above reasons attracted me and created a desire to visit and capture this beauty with my own camera.

The cliffs are daunting, yet they draw you in. They look like they shouldn’t be there, but yet they are. They also have this ancient feel to them that you just do not see everywhere.

Ancientbeauty

My photographic journey to Meteora

I remember seeing my very first photograph of a monastery in Meteora on a screen saver. It triggered my curiosity immediately. It took me some time to learn what that location was, as I initially had no idea. Later on I found out that it was somewhere in Greece, but it looked like a very remote area that was not easy to travel to. I really wanted to go and shoot there but kept telling myself that it will take a lot of effort to travel there.

Having grown up in Bulgaria I regularly go to visit my parents and family. In 2019 I was on one such visit when a childhood friend of mine told me that he had travelled to Meteora not long before that. He shared his experience in detail with me, which just sparked my interest to a new level. Up to that moment, I had not been planning to go to Meteora. However, when I heard this description and found out that it was only a 6 hour drive from my home town in Bulgaria, I just had to go.

Camouflage Highersolitude

Therefore, I embarked on researching the area and all of the specific locations I could shoot from. I read blogs, articles, and anything I could find on the internet, as I wanted to go prepared and with a plan. In addition, I studied the sunrise and sunset light angles, as well as 3D maps on google. Knowing that I would only have about 2 days there I wanted to be prepared and make the most of my time during the visit.

Lo and behold, a few days later I was on my way. Although I had picked several shooting locations I always like to go and see for myself, just in case I missed something in my prior research. Also, I wanted to do some exploring on my own and see if I could find locations and/or angles that others had not captured.

Some of my scouting activities included exploring areas without a trail, climbing on narrow rocks, and staying away from the crowds. It was brutal in the afternoons as the temperature would rise well above 100F.

I went out shooting early in the morning and late in the evening when the light was soft. However, to use my time to the fullest, I went hiking and scouting throughout the day. Some of my scouting activities included exploring areas without a trail, climbing on narrow rocks, and staying away from the crowds. It was brutal in the afternoons as the temperature would rise well above 100F. Furthermore, the humidity was high also. Nevertheless, I kept pushing through the heat in search of the best places, and am glad that I did.

If I get the opportunity to visit Meteora again, I would gladly do so. This small gem in Greece has captured a part of my heart and I would love to capture more of its beauty.