Karpenissi: At the speaking mountains

At the high mountains of Zacharias Papantoniou we met the beauties of Evritania during  Holly Week, when the peaks and the spruce-covered slopes were still waiting for spring to come and liven them up. Plane valleys, canyons and vertical cliffs everywhere.... Water rushing along rivers, torrents and waterfalls. A place for those who love nature. Numerous trekking paths in a most imposing scenery ... A few visitors here around these days. The definition of calmness! Few smoking chimneys, as the weather was demanding it especially in the morning.

  Evritania and Karpenissi are not exclusively winter destinations. Although it’s considered the "Switzerland" of Greece and it is mainly known for its ski center, Velouchi mountain and the surrounding area are a great destination all around the year. It’s an ideal spring and summer destination especially for those who love walking in nature. The land here also boasts of its great history and folklore, which has been depicted in the many folklore and historical museums of its villages.

We stayed in Megalo Chorio, in the Guest House "Archontiko", (tel: 2237041414 - 6977389078).  We found ourselves with a wonderful room view and a fantastic host, Panayiotis who served us the greatest handmade breakfast and leaded us with information and suggestions about places worth seeing in the area. Thank you Panayiotis!

We tried and suggest:

Day 1:

 Walk around the narrow, cobbled streets in Megalo Chorio, which is built at the foot of Mount Kaliakouda, in a lush landscape, 20 km from Karpenissi and at an altitude of 720 meters. The village with its traditional architectural mansions, its narrow streets and its abundant running waters is one of the most beautiful villages in the prefecture. Stop at the church of Agia Paraskevi and the chapel of Agios Thanasis, just before the entrance of the village, offering a stunning view. At the bottom of the village take the path to the left leading to Kefalovrysos. Proceed a little in the ravine with the high planes and bridges. The village played an important role during the Revolution of 1821, with many battles taking place here. The revival of the past of Megalo Chorio, is well depicted in its Folklore Museum, which is housed in an old stone mansion of three levels, completely renovated. The exhibited material is an offer of the Megalochorites, showing the representations of Megalohoritic House, the traditional occupations of the residents, household utensils and agricultural tools, folk art objects, traditional costumes and a library with more than 5000 titles of various thematic categories. (Open at weekends – tel : 2237 041502). Stop at the square with the incredible view for food or coffee. For dinner we were suggested "Vakaki" and galaktoboureko in "Karveli". But we ate at Nasiopoulos, in Neo Mikro Chorio. He is famous for his meat dishes, but we ate Lenten dishes because of the Holy Week. Tasted indifferent.

 Walk to Neo Mikro Horio and Palaio Mikro Chorio (altitude 900 m),  on the slopes of Mount Helidona, opposite Megalo Chorio, at 3 km distance between them . A place of great historical significance, as here on December 1942 a battle took place between the rebels of Aris Velouchiotis and 2000 Italians. The rebel conquerors burnt alive and executed 13 people. This battle is considered pan-European as the first battle of resistance against the fascist regime. In Palaio Mikro Chorio there is the Historical and Folklore Museum, which is housed in the building of the former Primary School, where you will see videos of the village's history and a very remarkable library. (Museum Tel: 22370 - 41023- Information: https://www.mikrohorio.gr/ and https://info-karpenisi.gr/karpenisi-portal/tourism/sights/preview.jsp?id=11.  On its beautiful square you can eat or enjoy your coffee. Studio Merses hotel is also a point of magnificent view.

 An evening walk to Karpenissi, which was recently groomed and changing its "aura" as its most central streets were paved and the square Markou Botsari, with the church of the Holy Trinity was reformed, adding positively to its image! Otherwise it is not famous for its beauty but only for its hills and for the surrounding nature: at the foot of the imposing mountain Velouchi, with numerous trekking / hiking trails, and the ski resort.

Day 2:

 Head to the famous monastery of Panagia Prousiotissa (17km - 20' far from Megalo Chorio). Cross the village of Gavros (fresh trout served from the local fish farm) and enjoy the nature along the way. The road passes from a point where the valley broadens and Karpenissiotis river meets Krikelopotamos and give birth to Trikeriotis river (at Dipotama as the locals say) and continues along with the flow of Karpenisiotis to the location of "Kleidi", passing beneath the huge rock which is so impressive that makes you unconsciously bent. Perched on the rocks above the gorge, the monastery is known for the miraculous icon of the "Virgin Mary Prousiotissa", which originates from Proussa (Bursa) of Asia Minor and is presumed to be the work of the Evangelist Luke. In 1821 the monastery was a refuge for many fighters, George Karaiskakis, Markos Botsari e.t.c.. Climb the hill of the stone clock to enjoy the breathtaking view to the Monastery and the canyon.

 And once you get here do not turn back! At the edge of the village, you will find the gorge of Mavri Spilia (Black Cave), a wild and exciting setting, a path that passes through waterfalls and bridges and leads to a cave over a double waterfall. 30' hiking on a path through the woods! Next to is the “Stremmenou” salami shop, where a great prosciutto is made.

 Return from the same street. After Dipotama, on the left, the road leads to Chelidona (8 km from the junction). Pulses go up on every turn of the road admiring the landscapes. A dreamy route on a road hit by continuous landslides. A unique pass over the river is an iron bridge bailey-painted with wooden beams - which we would hesitate passing if we hadn’t seen a car passing by the moment we arrived! Read more about the unique Chelidona (meaning: swallow bird) here: https://www.greek-crossroads.gr/en/evritania-helidona-village/

  Noon finds us in the picturesque Koryschades (5 km far from Karpenissi), having a nice coffee at Villagio overlooking the fir covered slopes, next to the National Resistance Museum, where the National Council of Free Greece met on May 14, 1944. It is housed in the building of the Primary School and houses remarkable material of the time with photographs of the great photographer Spyros Meletzis and newspaper clippings to remind us that the Mountain Government was set up here in 1944. Check the opening hours (Museum: 2237024996). Particularly impressive are the old mansions and the church of Agios Athanasios (1865). There is another cafe and tavern in its lovely square.

 The other villages sound impressive mainly by their names: Klafsi, meaning “cry” (nice plateau with cafe and tavern), Voutiro “sounding like the greek word for butter”, Nostimo, (meaning “tasty”)  ... Ideal for a  mini road trip. It is worthwhile to drive/ walk around them and enjoy the journey. Besides, the distances from the main road are so short!

 The day ends with a delicious dinner in Messostrati (tel: 2237 041118) cooked by Mrs Antigone, on the way to Meg. Chorio. Rooster with noodles and green pie ... We fully recommend!

Day 3:

 We wanted to see Lake Kremasta before we left. The largest artificial lake in Greece was created after the construction of the Kremasta dam in 1965 , concentrating waters from four rivers: Acheloos, Agrafiotis, Tavropos and Trikeriotis.  Panagiotis suggested the route to Fidakia (village built at 980 meters) and Tsagaralona location with the unobstructed view of the lake. After a 35' drive from Karpenissi we reached the entrance of the village. Paved alleys, old stone houses, blooming courtyards, all characteristically clean and tidy. The picturesque square with the imposing church of the Birth of the Virgin complete the image of the preserved settlement built in a magical spot. Opposite the church tavern "Ochalia" offers food and coffee and accommodation as well in the homonymous hostel on the other side of the settlement, under the hill with the threshing floor. It is obvious that the people are united by the love and care for their village! A little further down to the "Tsagaralona" location, enjoy the amazing view to the lake, and if the weather is "dry" you'll take impressive photos.

 The senses awaken in Evritania. Everything we explored this weekend is engraved in our memory and photos and written here for those of you that wish to follow the same path. The natural beauty of the area does not end there. And we long for the next time we return here to discover the rest of its beauty.

TIPS

  • We set off from Veria. We needed 2 hours to get to Karditsa region and 30 minutes to the end of Central Greece Highroad (very well-built road with cafe and Shell station) at the exit to Makrakomi. ATTENTION at this point because there is neither a junction nor a shaped exit. You will need to revert. (Drive at a low speed and follow Google maps instructions) There is no signage and you are in danger of finding yourself on the stream to Karditsa !!! From then on, the road is slow. Another one hour for 60 km.
  • We paid adout 9 euros for tolls
  • Read more on the official websites: www.karpenissi.gr and www.evritania.gr

 

EXTRA (information we collected from the internet)

Activities

> For rafting, canyoning, organized trekking, mountain biking and other activities, contact Trekking Hellas Evritania (22370-25.940, 6978-187.863, www.trekking.gr) and Ef Zin (22370-80.150, 6945-396.808, www.active.com.gr).

> The ski resort is located in Velouchi (22370-21.112, www.velouxi.gr) and has 18 ski slopes, a snowboard track and 4 off piste routes.

> For the Toronto trails look for the local map or contact Gerasimos Palaios (6944-151-508).

> For children there are two wonderful places for activity: Salon (22370-24.606, www.saloonpark.gr), with climbing tower, archery, air passage, riding etc., and the brand new Karavaki Park (22370-24.614, www.ninemia.gr/park), within the hostel Ninemia bungalows resort, at the 7th km of the national road Karpenissi - Prousou. This is an extremely interesting and original park, where the theorems and laws of science meet their practical application through impressive interactive games. Of great interest is the fact that everything is made of everyday materials, proving that physics is next to us. The Archimedes screw and spindle, the principle of maintaining the spin, Einstein's theory of relativity and a whole host of other phenomena are framed by fine toys such as labyrinth, air passage, trampoline etc. Recycling department, livestock farm and sports facilities complete the ultimate educational and yet entertaining experience.

Taken from KATHIMERINI newspaper

 

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