PLACES TO VISIT (IN THE WIDER AREA)
The natural seasonal ponds (drakolimnes) at Souvala and Nevropoli on Mt. Kallidromo, above Eleftherochori at an altitude of 1,100 m. On Kallidromo there are three wildlife sanctuaries that are part of the Natura 2000 network. And if you’re lucky, you might catch sight one of the herds of wild horses which roam freely in the forest.
Kastriotissa, the highest village in Fokida (altitude 1,160 m), perched on the slopes of Mt. Oiti. The remains of its ancient castle can still be seen today and the village itself is certainly worth a visit, if only for the charming square with its towering plane tree.
The village of Athanasios Diakos, surrounded by fir, oak, chestnut, plane and cedar trees, with its stone paved square, springs of running water, church and clock tower, quaint tavernas and hiking trails to Vardousia. A classic meeting place for travelers, walkers and climbers.
The stone-built village of Stromi, with its waterfall and stone arch bridge spanning the Rinorema, a tributary of the Mornos river.
Vryzes, on the col between Oiti and Giona, 3 km before the village of Panourgias, for a truly panoramic view of the entire mountain range and the Pyramid, Giona’s highest peak.
The mineral springs of Mt. Kallidromo at Damasta. In the natural open pool of the hot springs, visitors can bathe in waters with a temperature of 33o C. The mineral spas of Kallidromo, like those at Thermopylae (Thermopyles), were widely known in ancient times, when it was believed the goddess Athena had given them to Heracles as a gift.
The village of Sykia, for its privileged location, nestled at the foot of the imposing vertical face of Mt. Giona. The rock faces in the vicinity of Sykia have made the village a climbing center that is unique in Greece and the area is considered one of the foremost rock climbing destinations in Europe, offering extreme ascents with a negative slope and height of 1,500 m.
Kremastos, the highest waterfall in central Greece, at an altitude of 1,400 m, above the village of Kompotades, with a drop of 130 meters.
The mineral springs of Thermopylae, in the location famous for the battle between Greeks and Persians in 480 BC. At the side of the road stands the monument to Leonidas I of Sparta, which features a bronze statue of the king, close to the sacred hill where Leonidas and his 300 Spartans, together with 700 Thespians, made their last stand. In Greek mythology, the Greek god of fire Hephaestus, at the request of Athena, created the hot springs for Heracles to wash in and recuperate after completing his Twelve Labors. The springs began to be operated in an organized way in 1935. The temperature of the water is 40o C.
The Nerospilia cave, near the village of Vriniani. An underground karst cave with stalactites, stalagmites, pools and fossiliferous rocks. Special caving equipment is needed to enter.
Asproneri beach, on the old National Road between Agios Konstantinos and Kammena Vourla, where verdant mountains, clear deep blue waters and the lush green shores of northern Evia just across the gulf present an idyllic environment. The beach and sea floor are comprised of small, light grey pebbles and part of the beach has umbrellas, loungers and refreshments, as well as showers and changing cabins.
Spercheios plane tree forest, one of the most beautiful and luxuriant forests in all of Greece. Covering an area of 100 hectares, it has 17 species of trees and is what remains of the Aenianian Forest on the plain of Spercheios. This ancient forest is mentioned by Homer, who notes that it provided the timber for the finest and tallest masts on Greek ships.
Kouvelos, an imposing mass of rock towering over Asopos gorge, location of the archaeological site of Kastro Orias (‘castle of Orias’). Here archaeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient town and wall which may have belonged to Ancient Trachis, whilst during the period of Frankish rule there was an important fortified settlement. The Loyola University of Chicago has carried out an archaeological investigation of the summit, which yielded pottery dating to the Late Classical, Hellenistic, Late Roman and Byzantine periods. An ancient cemetery, dating to the Hellenistic period, has also been found and partly excavated. During the Greek War of Independence (1821-1832) the mountain served as a launch pad for armed resistance against the Turkish forces under Kioshe Mehmet and Omer Vrioni, who had been dispatched to quell the Greek uprising.
The Asopos gorge, known since ancient times, forms the natural boundary between Mt. Oiti ad Mt. Kallidromo. Each autumn, climbers and nature lovers are drawn to the area with the intention of passing through the gorge. It is a place of extraordinary natural beauty, a narrow defile formed by the towering vertical walls of Oiti and Kallidromo. Waters from Oiti’s eastern slopes flow through the gorge to the Spercheios river before emptying into the Malian Gulf, creating a wetland of enormous ecological importance. The landscape is stunningly beautiful, with water trickling everywhere, vegetation hanging from the walls and rocks forming multi-colored formations due to centuries of weathering. The gorge’s exit, at the foot of Oiti and Kallidromo, was the location of ancient Herakleia (Trachinia). Another interesting hiking path is the route that begins below the Papadia railway bridge and winds its way to the Asopos bridge, which marks the end of the gorge.
Galaxidi, the picturesque harbor town in the Gulf of Corinth which has become a popular weekend getaway for city dwellers attracted by its laid back, island atmosphere. Until the late 19th century, Galaxidi had a sizeable merchant fleet and was a prosperous commercial centre. This is evidenced by the size and elegance of some of its buildings. The Maritime Museum of Galaxidi houses exhibits from this period. Preservation of the traditional architectural style has facilitated the growth of tourism in recent decades. The natural harbor provides docking facilities for yachts and small fishing boats and is lined with restaurants, bars and some interesting shops.
Dounos gorge, near the village of Oiti, which forms the Diakoniaris stream that flows into the Asopos. The gorge has water nearly all year round and ends at the Asopos bridge. For those wishing to make the passage, opinions differ as to the level of difficulty. Obviously it depends greatly on the time of year, but advice should be taken from suitably qualified locals before any attempt is made.
The Railway trail, which dates back to the late 19th century, when the Kato Tithorea-Lianokladi railway line was built and in particular the section between the stations of Asopos and Trachinia. The trail was laid out in order to transport workers and materials by pack animal, parallel to the railway line, which is why it is known to this day as the ‘Railway Trail’. The trail begins at the Asopos bridge, continues to the right of the rural road and ascends to 1,000 m. At the point where the highway ends, a footpath begins on the left, parallel to the gorge (marked by the Mountaineering Club of Lamia). After about two hours, the trail ends at Asopos railway station. The total length is 5 km.
Fokis Mining Park – Vagonetto (www.vagonetto.gr). A theme park that is quite unique in Greece, situated between Mt. Giona and Mt. Parnassos. Visitors to the underground park can see at first hand how a mine operates and become acquainted with bauxite mining and the history of the activity in the region. The tour includes a ride on the vagonetto, the shuttle car used some 30 years ago, to the start of the walk through an underground gallery where visitors will see numerous exhibits, including life-size figures of the miners ‘speaking’ and ‘operating’ machines, virtual explosive charges, etc. This gallery (850) was in operation between 1967 and 1972. The tour continues in the main Exhibition Area, the Interactive Digital Technology Wing and concludes at the Outdoor Machinery Exhibition.
Vargiani, placed under special protection as a settlement worthy of preservation. The village is perched on the northwest side of Parnassos at an altitude of 890 m. It is a typical and well preserved example of the traditional architecture of this region of central Greece (colloquially known as Roumeli), with stone houses, cobblestone streets and an enchanting square. Local sights include the Neraidospilia or ‘Fairy Cave’ with stalactites and stalagmites, in the middle of a steep rock face to the south of the village, as well as the beautiful stone fountain of Bourboula.