Northern Ziria

In Feneos valley, the valley of wonders

Astounding routes pass by lush vegetation and reveal, turn after turn, the best view to its snowy peaks. Flowery valleys are adorned with small, picturesque villages. Mountain sides filled with fir trees are mirrored in the waters of two marvelous lakes: The one is famous and loved and the other one is secret and seasonal, it disappears in the summer and reappears in winter as a magical image. It comes with no doubt then that most people who refer to Mountainous Corinth they first consider this part of the mountain: Feneos valley, Doxa and Trikala.

 Feneos valley and its villages

Most people reach Feneos from Derveni, at the Corinthian coasts, but we suggest… in a rather unorthodox way, to enter the magical world of the mountain from Kiato so that you pass by Stymphalia first and the beautiful village of Kastania, Southern Ziria  from which the road starts to downhill, to enjoy the fantastic view of Feneos valley that, especially in spring, is a work of art. The first village you meet as you drive towards the valley is the small Mesino, built around the square with the century old plane tree, from the trunk of which sprouts running water.

Next one is Goura, one of the biggest and rightly so popular villages of the entire mountainous Corinth. It is amphitheatrically built at the 900 meters, with picturesque alleys adorned with traditional, stone- built mansions and enjoys a splendid view from its square (that has another thousand year old plane tree) as well as from the monastery of Panagia ton Vraxon (of the Rocks), a few kilometers away from the village.

On the mountain side across the village, the small village that looks like a balcony built on the mountain as you look at it from Goura’s square, is Feneos. The locals call it Sivista, this beautiful village that has as sights the old watermill with the nozzle on its entrance, a small but rather interesting Folklore Museum and the church of St. Spiridon that was built at the beginning of the past century.

Five kilometers away from Feneos there is the bank of probably the most beautiful lake of the entire Peloponnese. With the most transparent waters you’ve ever seen in a lake and with a bushy forest of tall black pines hugging it, the tiny Doxa is the ideal scenery for spring picnic on the wooden tables at the banks, and for lazy strolling at the wonderful path around it. A narrow piece of land breaks its symmetry by cheeky entering its tranquil waters- the church at its end is the many times photographed Agios Fanourios.   

Very close to the lake there is a “pocket” sized village, called Ancient Feneos that has a small but interesting archaeological museum, which hosts sculptures, urns and mosaics that were brought to light by the excavations in the ancient city.

If you are not yet confused by the two Feneos at the two sides of the lake, we should inform you that Feneos is called the entire region of the valley, pretty much like the Athenians who call “Athens” the entire Attica. In that sense (that of the wider area), Feneos includes two villages that carry the same name, Goura, Panorama that has an amazing view of the valley, Steno, Ano and Kato Tarso, where the carved on the cliff church of Panagia tou Vraxou(of the Rock) will remind you something from Meteora, Mosia and Mesino. 

Trikala: Upper, Lower and Middle villages

Perhaps it is the most popular corner of mountainous Corinth and not unfairly: Here gather the most options in accommodation and food, here start some of the nicest hiking trails that cross the mountain, and here you can find at its best the traditional mountainous architecture of Ziria.

Trikala are separated in the Upper, Lower and Middle villages: Three villages in one or, if you like, one village with three different districts. They are all hanging from an altitude of a thousand meters, filled with traditional stone mansions and churches that are here since the Middle Ages, long before the crowds discover their villages. Cobbled squares with gigantic plane trees that you would have been familiar with, if there were still around stone- built fountains that sprout crystal clear water, fulfil the image of the villages.

The routes and the secrets of Northern Ziria

From Trikala also start some of the most beautiful (hiking and more) routes of the mountainous Corinth to climb at the summits of Ziria, cross the dense fir tree forests and to connect all the villages. One of the nicest is the one that starts from Middle Trikala and ends up, after an hour and a half (or 5.8 kilometers), in Dasios Lake.

It comes as a surprise that the lakes of Ziria are not just two throughout the year: In winter and spring there is also a third one, the seasonal lake of Dasios, nestled in 1.460 meters and it is one of the few lakes in Greece in such a high altitude. With its resilient in cold weather anemones sprouting around, and the still waters freezing during winter, Dasios Lake is a small natural wonder that is worth a visit if the weather permits it- you better ask the locals before you go, since the road in winter often closes due to snow.

The paved road from Upper Trikala brings you, after 10 kilometers, to the highly catered Athletic- Ski Center of Ziria.  It is one of the newest ski centers in Greece, as it opened in 2007, and it is perfect for playing in the snow and to try your abilities as a beginner in skiing and in snowboarding. In summer it hosts the really interesting three- day Music Festival of Ziria.

From the Middle Trikala a winding road leads you after 7 kilometers in one of the most mountainous villages of the Peloponnese, the very special Karia, in the 1.300 meters altitude. A beautiful village, perfect for long hours of strolling in the narrow alleys that spread among the stone houses, Karia has remarkable options in accommodation and food, and sights that include the Byzantine church of Koimisis Theotokou of the 13th century.

After Karia, the road leads you to downhill till it reaches the beautiful Evrostini, next to the plateau of Zacholis that the nature lovers will be thrilled by the running waters, the lakes and the waterfalls by the Mylos creek. At the entrance of Evrostini the odd church with the 17 domes is St. George that dates back in 1811. Moving a bit further down towards Derveni, Panagia Katafigion (of the shelters) is another small architectural wonder, carved on the rock. After here you have two options: You can either move towards the Corinthian coasts or you can turn back and follow that small trekking route again. You would have probably missed something.

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