One of the most beautiful destinations in Europe is south Pindos: Pili- Elati - Pertouli - Neraidohori! We may have travelled more than once to a place but that does not mean that we have explored it enough! So, let's go...
If on a journey you seek to taste the unknown and the unpretentious charm of a place with all your senses, come with us to an escape beyond the ordinary. We are going to discover together the hidden beauties of southern Pindos.
Text - Photos: Ioanna Paravalou
Do not rush to say that you've gone to these places and you know them well, because you are definitely "wide of the mark", just like me. We may have traveled to a place several times, but that does not mean we know it...
How to get there:
By car you will travel about 330 km from Athens to Trikala and from there another 34 km to Elati Road link up with buses from Athens Bus Station, KTEL Rail connection (from Athens) by OSE Athens
There are enchanting locations that have been discovered by a few travelers by chance and even fewer who have enjoyed them as they should. That is why in this journey we will reveal to you the rare beauties of this generously endowed place: southern Pindos.
A place with a special character, where nature has the leading role. Different types of forest (with fir, beech, black pine, oak, plane trees, etc.) make up a dreamy setting, painted with its own colors every season. So, we put on our warm jackets, sport shoes and... there we go!
The first "appointment" is at Pili
From where will we begin our acquaintance with the region? It's a good question. So, we meet at Pili of Trikala, as the entrance to southern Pindos is literally here. From this point on, its beauty begins to unfold.
We stop for a coffee overlooking the impressive one-arched stone bridge of Porta, which was built by Saint Vissarion in 1514 and joins the mountains of Itamos and Koziakas, bridging the banks of the Portaikos river.
Walk down the footpath along the bridge of Pili.
For many years (until 1936) it was the only passage from the plain of Trikala to the mountainous villages of Pindos. But we will not just confine ourselves to the beautiful bridge.
We climb the stone steps to get to the top and walk across the street, where we stroll on the nicely shaped path that brings us after a short while, to a very important Byzantine temple: 13th-century Porta Panayia, built above the ruins of an ancient temple.
- It is worthwhile to enter the temple, to admire the mosaic images, the old hagiographies, the painted dome, but also to feel the reverence and the mysticism of the space.
Elati set within fir trees
From Pili, the asphalt road takes us to the green Elati. Mysterious, buzzing on weekends and more alive than the other villages in the area. It is usually covered with white veil of fog and it is revealed to us slowly from the wooded slopes of Koziakas. We are already at an altitude of 950 meters.
Elati, formerly called Tyrna, is the seat of the Municipality of Aithikes. In 1955 it got its present name, probably thanks to its natural environment. In earlier years it was set at a lower point, near the river. It is also referred to as "Stavros", in honor of Kosmas of Aitolian, who taught here.
As we are in Elati, we visit the wood sculpture workshop of a young, talented artist, Angelos Patsiatzis. We are surprised how a piece of wood shapes is in his inspiring hands, a timeless creation. It is worth seeing his work.
In the workshop of Angelos Patsiatzis in Elati.
In Elati we find several accommodations for all budgets as well as good taverns with nice atmosphere and fine food. Of course, the best food will be enjoyed at the picturesque taverns located in the surrounding mountain villages, such as Kalogeri, where there are still a few hospitable guesthouses in affordable prices.
-We recommend that you start with fresh salads and trachana in two variants and continue with pan fried pork, rustic sausage and chopsticks. Finish the meal with strained yogurt and spoon sweet.
At the bridge and the waterfall of Palaiokarya One of the hidden treasures of southern Pindos is the verdant gorge of Palaiokarya, located between Pili and Elati. The area of Palaiokarya (Upper, Middle and Lower) is filled with lush vegetation, while a babbling river accompanies us all the way.
Forest roads on the slopes of Koziakas, full of colors and smells of the forest.
Between the steep slopes, the 16th-century one arched stone bridge brilliantly stands out, and behind it a beautiful waterfall of 12 meters form a green lake and continues to a smaller waterfall of 2 meters.
It is one of those moments that you bow to nature and applaud the man-creator who managed to master, in adverse conditions and with little or no means, the natural environment and to magnify once again...
At the top of the stone bridge of Palaiokarya.
Being curious about the view from the top... we drive until the point from which we must continue walking (very carefully because it is slippery!) to the top of the bridge to admire the scenery from both sides. We are now just a stone's throw away from the waterfall and that's what we like!
The surprises in Palaiokarya`s gorge are not over here. In Kato Palaiokarya we will visit the traditional water mill (dristella for the locals), where local people wash their rugs and blankets even today.
The old watermill is still in operation thanks to the power of the water and the persistent efforts of the smiling Mrs Chrysoula. We had the pleasure of watching the traditional corn milling process and then learning how to make a delicious potato pie, which was also traditionally baked in a wood-burning oven in the yard. Finally, we saw the washing of carpets in the same way as the old days.
The mansion in Pertouli and Neraidochori
If we continue the road from Elati (about 15 km), we will reach our next station, Pertouli. At the famous Pertulian meadows many horses are grazed. In some organized units we can, if we want, do horse riding.
The "mansion Chatzigaki" in Pertouli.
Pertouli is built at an altitude of 1,200 meters between gently slopes covered with fir and it is famous for its impressive mansions and high-standard guesthouses (such as "Archontiko Chatzigaki"). It is stretched out on the slope, while dense forests of firs surrounded by clouds of fog, adorn the village with their presence. Alpine landscape.
A beautiful chapel in Pertouli.
Even in the settlement we see green fields with cows and sheep. High on the white mountain peaks are the facilities of the Pertouli ski resort, where we can play with snow and do ski on the slopes.
One of the most famous villages in southern Pindos, is Neraidochori which stands on a verdant slope and enjoys beautiful views. Of course, we have to say that the settlement is not distinguishable for its traditional physiognomy. However, it has its own hidden grace, which we are eager to discover.
In the river below Neraidochori.
In Neraidochori there are many lodgings and good taverns. So we leave the village to descend to the ravine, where we discover Hatzipetros's stone arched bridge which is "playing hide and seek" behind the foliage of the trees. Enchanted, we enjoy the idyllic scenery...
-Continuing to Pyrra, we will see another old bridge, crowning the banks of a river with crystal clear waters.
The stone bridge below Neraidochori.
On the mountain of Asclepius
At Pindos we will have the chance to walk, do mountain biking or just pick up mushrooms (many incredible varieties). We do not forget, of course, that we are in the beloved mountain of Asclepius, the god of medicine, whose origins were from the ancient Trikkis, today's Trikala.
Flavored by all kinds of aromatic and herbal remedies, Koziakas (Kerketion Mountain) is a beautiful mountain that enchants you with the incredible variations of its colors and the variety of trees (fir, beech, black pine, plane trees, walnuts, chestnuts...) and of its plants.
Many species of mushrooms grow in the mountains of Pindos.
From the rich flora of Koziakas is worth mentioning the mushrooms, which grow here in a wide variety. Of the animals that survive on its green hills are mentioned several bears, wild boars, deer and wolves.
Wild trout is fished in the rivers of the area. If you love fishing, you will have the pleasure of enjoying it with the best reward.
Fishing wild trout in Aspropotamos.
In Aspropotamos, Trikala
In the western part of the prefecture of Trikala, in the "heart" of Pindos, lies the alpine area of an "unknown" majestic Greece: the area of Aspropotamos. Flooded by forests of beeches, firs, plane trees, oaks, black pines, maple trees and birch trees, it knows how to seduce the "lovers" of the authentic beauty of nature.
In the meadows of Mount Lakmonas (above Chaliki), the river Acheloos is born and its river head is called Aspropotamos, because of its white, clean waters. Here we can do rafting or kayaking.
The area is adorned with picturesque villages such as Krania, Stefani, Doliana, Kallirroi, Polythea (Dragovisti), Gourgia, Polyfyto, Anthousa and Chaliki. We can discover also in the area of Aspropotamos 16 stone bridges and a fantastic waterfall, called Mandani of Daimona (best seen after spring...).
It is worth seeing a small "miracle" between the villages of Doliana and Krania: the impressive monastery of the exaltation of the Holy Cross in Doliana, built in 1770, the roof of which is adorned with a unique complex of stone domes.
In the area of Aspropotamos and more specifically in the traditional hostel "Tower of Mandania", in the area of Kallirroi, three-day mushroom-tasting seminars are hosted, according to the season, with speeches of experts and a collection of mushrooms from the forest. It is worthwhile to live it with your company or your family.
It is worthwhile to see:
- The bridge and the waterfall of Paleokarya.
- The Byzantine church of Panagia of the Great Gates (Porta Panagia).
- The bridge of Porta at Pili.
- The bridge of Hatzipetros under Neraidochori.
- The waterfall in Desi.
- The Monastery of the Assumption of Theotokos Goura, in Itamos.
- The Monastery of Dushikos in Koziaka.
- The mansions in Pertouli.
- The monastery of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Doliana.
- The picturesque Drosohori.
- The villages of Krania and Doliana.
- The stone church of Agia Paraskevi, next to Neraidochori.
- The wood workshop of Angelos Patsiatzis in Elati.
With the right organization, you can manage to see everything!
To enjoy what we have described and to make safe tourism activities, we recommend having your tour organized by the local professionals who know their own place and job very well.
Pertouli Extreme Sports
Address: Livadia Pertouliou Trikalon (Ski Center), ZIP 42032