A road trip to the heart of Greece, amid the breathtaking beauty of Evrytania, unlocks the secrets of remote mountain villages and sacred pilgrimage sites.
Two mountains and a river: Helidona, Kaliakouda, and, running through them, the Karpenisiotis river. A 32-kilometer route from Karpenisi to Prousos, also known as Potamia. Next to the river waters and the plane tree forests you will encounter intersections for interesting villages, street vendors selling fine local products, as well as miracles of nature and faith, since the area also hosts important sites of pilgrimage.
The slopes of both mountains are dominated by low fir trees; the morning fog moves through the plane tree forests creating a mystical setting; a thin layer of ice covers the low foliage and the road in the shade, while the sound of running waters is a permanent fixture of the soundscape: rivulets, streams, and small waterfalls cascading around you.
Gorgianades, Koryschades, Voutiro, Klafsi, Mouzilo, Nostimo, Megalo Horio, Neo Mikro Horio and Palio Mikro Horio, Gavros, Ano Karitsa and Kato Karitsa, Prousos: a route akin to a komboloi (traditional worry beads), along which you can stop in various villages at will, as you wish. They are all wonderful for walks and feature picturesque bridges, footpaths, lovely guesthouses and good food.
Yet the natural beauty reaches its peak after the village of Gavros. At first you pass by the impressive slopes and the road becomes narrower, with sharp turns until Kleidi gorge, the most special spot – not only because of the impressive gorge, but also because the road passes under a rock canopy, so it seems as if the car is being swallowed up by the mountain. You will undoubtedly want to make a stop for photographs, though keep in mind that it is rather dangerous – there are signs frequently warning against possible landslides.
Several kilometers later you will come across the Footsteps of the Virgin Mary: marks in the rock the Virgin Mary is said to have left as she took her icon to Prousos, and the countless offerings left along the way – from hairbands to toys and charms – are evidence of people’s faith in this.
The mountains open up further down, and you reach Dipotama, at the point where the Karpenisiotis river meets the Krikeliotis, or Krikelopotamos, to create the Trikeriotis river. Traverse the large bridge and gaze out at the valley, ideal for hiking and various activities. The road forks here: straight ahead will lead to Prousos, where the famous Monastery of Panagia Prousiotissas is located, while the road on the right marks the beginning of another lovely route through the mountains and above the Krikeliotis valley, which leads to the artificial Kremasta lake.
Open up the map and tour freely: there are several villages, viewpoints and beaches to enjoy along the way.
Do not miss
Koryschades is a village built entirely of stone fairly close to Karpenisi. Its renovated buildings form the guesthouse that goes by the same name, which greatly contributed to the tourist development of the wider region. In the old school visit the Museum of National Resistance (Tel. (+30) 22370.249.96) with photographs of Spyros Meletzis and newspaper cuttings reminding that this is where the Government on the Mountain was established in 1944.
If you are traveling with your family, it is worth making a stop at The Newton Park, a special space for children that is inspired by the great physicist Sir Isaac Newton and his laws. Their special activities prove scientific laws and theorems, offering a wonderful experiential learning experience. Tel. (+30) 22370.246.14, open from March.
Megalo Horio and the older Mikro Horio are the loveliest villages in the area, worth visiting for walks along pleasant cobblestone paths and squares surrounded by a verdant natural beauty. They boast great tavernas, which you will also find in the village of Gavros, located on the main road nearby. In Megalo Horio, the most developed of the two, you will find additional stores selling local products and pastry shops, as well as a fine Folklore Museum (open on weekends, 10:30 – 14:30).
The great pilgrimage site of the Virgin Mary is located in Prousos, at an impressive location in the canyon of the Prousian gorge, visited by thousands of people every year who arrive there even by coach. The second most popular site in the village is the Black Cave, located at the end of a 2-kilometer hike with small waterfalls and verdant vegetation. The third most popular is none other than the Stremenos Delicatessen, where you can taste and purchase the finest prosciutto, as well as exceptional cold cuts.