Walks next to the waves, beautiful excursions on wooded slopes with bustling rivers and impressive waterfalls. In the meantime, the octopuses are roasting on the grill, waiting for us, even though it rains.
Text - Photos: Ioanna Paravalou
As if It had to choose between two loves, the island of Evia has been vacillated for years now, between the Evian gulf and the Aegean sea. Mountain or sea? It does not matter... You just let yourself travel to its beauties without any reservation.
It is certain that you are on an island, but you feel that you are in the heart of the most forested mountain. You can easily slip away from the fir trees and the verdant mountain peaks... and sit at the most enchanting beach and drink your ouzo where the waves pops up! This is Evia`s hidden charm.
It is only one and half hours away from Athens and it is an ideal proposition for a weekend getaway, in calm, relaxing rhythms, with walks in the forests and next to the waves, enjoying the mountain, the sea and... your friends of course. The picturesque naval city Limni stands out between the villages of North Evia and it is still retaining its color and personality...
There are two routes to get there (starting from Athens):
- On the first route, we drive on the National Road of Athens - Lamia and we take the ferryboat from Arkitsa to Edipsos. Then, following the coastal road, we arrive at Limni, after passing through the villages Rovies and Chronia.
- On the second route, we arrive at Chalkida and from there, we continue the route to north Evia. A route with many turns of course, but so enchanting that it clearly compensates us. In the area of Psachna, we forget the sea for a while and ascend to the wooded slopes. The car moves along the pine forests that become denser as we approach Agios and Prokopi.
We are accompanied by the river Kireas, flowing with its calm waters along the tall plantains which lean over the banks of the river, laying at this time the most colorful carpet with their golden-red leaves.
Here we stop to light up a candle in the famous Monastery of Agios Ioannis the Russian. The relic of the saint was brought here in 1924 by refugees from Asia Minor during the exchange of populations. The Monastery celebrates on 27th of May and lots of pilgrims come to worship.
At Prokopi we see two wonders of nature: The oldest and the biggest plane tree of the Balkans, as well as the twin plane trees, a truly unique and natural complex. We continue to Mantoudi and Strofilia. At this point the road is branched. We turn left towards the city of Limni.
A stone path with wide stairs leads us to the neighborhoods of Limni Evias.
On the paths of yesterday...
After an interesting route, full of pine trees and olive groves, we begin to descend to the sea. Soon we will have the first panoramic image of the most traditional settlement of Evia.
The tightly tiled roofs of the houses give a unique color to the beautiful village that is built amphitheatrically on the verdant slopes ending at the sea. This beautiful village, gaze the deep blue waters of the Evian Gulf with its tranquil sea, transferring a sweet calmness at your senses...
At the beach of scenic Limni, a walk is a must.
This area has been inhabited since ancient times (from the 2nd millennium BC, according to historians) and the ancient city was named Elimnion. After the corruption of the ancient name, nowadays it is called "Limni". The "bridal Elimnion" (as it is characterized in Sophocles' excerpt) is associated with the first union of Zeus and Hera.
The hill of Kastria is of a great archeological interest. It has been identified as a settlement of the earliest Neolithic period and had a constant inhabitation in the area, until the medieval times.
Panagia is another interesting archaeological site, where the Neolithic settlement that was found, lasted until the Frankish period. It is also speculated that in Panagia, Elymnians, resorted to be saved from pirate raids in 800 AD. According to the evidence we have till today, Elymnion was a small city that was under the political influence of Chalkis and Istiaia.
During the Roman, Byzantine and Frank-Enetian ages, because of its navy, it had often received raids of pirates who had been ravaging the area, as well as from the aspiring conquerors ... These are the reasons that forced the residents to move higher, inside the island, to the places of Kastria and Panagia.
The beach of Limni without its summer guests.
In the middle of the 16th century, settlers from the Agean Sea arrived at Elimnion. In the same period of time, like a miracle, the old icon of the Virgin Mary of Limnias appeared here, through the sea road, and became the religious symbol of the place. It was only in the 18th century that the inhabitants of Kastrinos Elimnios would once again descend to the sea and inhabit the present Limni.
During the Ottoman domination, it continued its ascendant prosperity and its navy skills brought wealth to the place. It has also played a leading role in the battles against the Turks. Angelis Govios who learned the art of war in the court of Ali Pasha, was known for his heroism.
He became the henchman of Odysseus Androutsos and led the revolutionary actions in Evia. He died in Vrysakia after a betrayal, paying with his blood the price of freedom.
The square with the palm trees is quiet at this time of year.
In the years of the liberation from the Ottomans , Limni was prospering again, creating a remarkable commercial fleet. Its ships were ripping the seas by carrying goods and the sailors and shipbuilders were famous for their capability throughout Greece.
However, they had to face again many difficult years in the near future like the World War II and the Occupation by the Germans. Once again Limni lead the national resistance, highlighting great figures such as Lela Karagianni, Kostas Karagiorgis, Kostas Gamvetas and so many others. Limni is the birthplace of the historian and scholar Nikos Bellaras, the author, writer and chronographer Nikos Tsiforos and the painter Haris Vogiatzis.
A stroll to today...
Limni is now a beautiful city that gathers many travelers all year round, combining mountain and sea. Walking in its streets, we discover, among the newly built houses, several stone mansions, with tall walls and blooming gardens, balconies with ornate decorations and iron rails, well-made door knockers and old coats of arms, reminding us that the place was particularly developed in the late of 19th and at the early of 20th century.
Its picturesque neighborhoods are flooded by the happy voices of the children as they return from school...
The Municipality of Elimnion was founded in 1835. Its original name was Municipality of Aegeon (due to the identification of the ancient Aegos with the region) and was later named Municipality of Limni. Impressive is the Church of the Assumption (basilica), built in 1837 - 1859.
The impressive marble bell tower (1879) is made by a sculptor from Tinos. Notable buildings are considered, the old kindergarten (with several neoclassical elements), that was built in 1898 and the renovated Plaza Hotel, with arches on the ground floor with its naval elements, as well as the Beneti`s and Ritsoni`s houses.
Undoubtedly, it is worth to pay a visit to the Historical and Folklore Museum of the city, with the precious heirlooms and the old files, which reveals the history of Limni`s course in time and also a remarkable archaeological collection (vases from various periods, coin collection, burial inscriptions of classical Roman and Hellenistic periods...).
One of the most remarkable exhibits is a sacrificial altar of the Byzantine period. Inside the village, is also the small church of Zoodochos Pigi, built on the ruins of an early Christian basilica.
A stone fountain with crystal clear waters over the Drimonas`s Waterfalls.
Α beautiful path between pine trees and sea will bring us to the famous Galataki Monastery, dedicated to Agios Nikolaos, one of the oldest monasteries of Evia. The original building was made in the 8th century, on the ruins of the ancient temple of the god Posidon.
The name Galataki is newer and (according to the prevailing point of view) was given in honor of a donor of the monastery (a captain whose ship almost sunk in the area) originated from Galatas of Constantinople.
-In the eastern wing of the Monastery there is a medieval tower. It is also worth looking for the St. Andrew's ascetic house (200 m SE), lost between the trees and rocks.
The historic Monastery of Saint David, built in the heart of the forest.
Starting from Limni, we can take a short walk to Rovies with the beautiful beach and fish taverns next to the sea, but also to climb up to the mountainous villages of Skepasti, Dafni and Kechries. It is a good opportunity of course, to visit one of the most famous monasteries in the area, the Monastery of Saint David the Elder, a 14th century building, situated between the wooded slopes of the Kavalari and Xiro Mountains, near the village of Drymonas.
The impressive entrance of the Monastery of Saint David.
At Rovies, there is a junction to the Monastery. One of the most picturesque mountainous villages in the area is Kokkinomilia, built high, on the wooded mountain peaks, almost invisible (for the fear of the pirates).
In the same area, a bit higher, we stop on a wooden sign with the indication "Drimona Waterfalls" and the wooden house of the Forestry authority (for any information call +30 22270 31218), near the homonymous village. We leave the car and walk a path that brings us after a few minutes to a landscape of incredible beauty.
In a verdant gorge with firs, plane trees and black pine trees, we find the Waterfalls of Drymona.
The Kireas River runs its calm waters between the plane trees and accompanies us on our journey.
The Drymonas`s Waterfalls (with more or less water, depending on the season) form a green pond at their base and then continue their long journey through the verdant gorge. We go back to the parking area and we continue our journey driving to the village of Kerasia and from there to Agia Anna, a place that is wide open to the endless blue of the Aegean Sea.
Drymonas Waterfalls create a green pond at their base leaving us astonished in front of their beauty...
We return, taking the upper road, to Limni. We could however continue to the magnificent Agriovotano with the beautiful view and then to Pefki, Oreous and Istiaia and through Edipsos again back to Limni. A circular route, with many pleasant surprises...
The barrels are being prepared by the sea to accept the new wine.
In the wider area of Limni, agro tourism units are located in olive groves where we can stay overnight and at the same time learn about harvesting the olive trees and about the process of producing olive oil in the traditional way.
It is time, however, to rest and having good food. Fresh fish and seafood with ouzo, as well as traditional fried bread or handmade sausage on the grill. Evia has plenty of delicacies. In the evening we have a drink and music in the few but atmospheric bars of Limni. We have no complaints.
Whatever we were looking for during our excursion to North Evia, we experienced it, tasted it, felt it...
- To the coastal village Rovies
- To the Monastery of Saint David
- To the Drymona Falls, near the homonymous village
- To Galataki Monastery and the St. Andrew's ascetic
- To bustling Edipsos, along the coastal route, which runs through the resorts of Chronia, Rovies and the fishing village of Ilia
- To the beach of Agali below the village of Agia Anna
- To Psaropouli, below Vasilica
- To the picturesque Pefki
- At the Monastery of Agios Georgios Ilion, near the homonymous village.
Horseback riding: In the village of Kamatriades in Istiea, we have the chance to enjoy nature on the back of a horse. At the Equestrian Center which is located there, we can stay overnight, ride a bike, and walk on forest paths flooded in the green. On the way back, we enjoy homemade flavors, made with pure ingredients in the tavern in the center of Limni. For more information, please contact: 22260 87201 & 6970207751.
Hiking routes: From Limni we can go on foot from the beach towards to Galataki Monastery, a really enchanting route, through the green of the mountain and the view to the blue of the sea. A walk to the Waterfalls of Drymona We can get information from the tourist pavilion and descend, taking the path that will bring us after a few minutes of hiking to the magical waterfalls of Drymonas.