The 15th of August is considered the beginning of the end of the Greek summer and is celebrated, not only for that reason, almost all over the country. Particular celebrations take place in the villages of Pindos Mountains from each side, the Macedonian and the Epirus side. The festivities but also the musicians of the region are famous outside of the country.
The second part of our excursion that follows, although we did it in winter time, here we present it as a summer proposition. As a suggestion where you can combine local feasts with hiking in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Zagori
Unfortunately there is no link, with info for the local festivities, translated in English. Please try this link and use google translate to find through the interactive map when and where are the festivities
The first part of the Zagori excursions can be found here.
Vradeto (Alt.1340m) – Beloi(Alt.1450m)
This short, easy and enjoyable route is one of the most popular in Zagori and leads to the location of “Beloi” where you can enjoy the spectacular view of the Vikos gorge. Besides, the name Beloi, means a nice view.
We started from Vikos and after 44.3 Km, we reached Vradeto, the village with the highest altitude (1340m) in Zagorochoria. Just over the village square, we left our cars and followed the small earth road that is started in front of us. Before the end, on our left, the signs show us the path that will lead us to our destination.
Mild and relaxed in the first steps, it soon transformes into an alley paved with large stone slabs like huge irregular tiles and then on a stone-built cobbled path that after a 90 degree turn, passes between two large rocks and comes out in to chaos. The path, without exaggeration, stops right at the edge of chaos, on a relatively small balcony and the only thing that separates you from the gap, is a wide stone wall. Below us, in front of us, around us, stands the gorge, showing all its splendour. The vertical slopes, hundreds of meters high, and the huge cliffs fill us with fright and admiration, and at the very bottom , lies gorgeous Voidomati’s bedside. This balcony is, in our opinion, the most spectacular of all the views of Vikos. In the far end of the gorge, we can see the village of Vikos and on the exact opposite side of the gorge, the location “Oxia” above Monodendri.
We took a rest, we filled our soul with the images of nature and emptied our minds from the worries. After that we took the way for the next place with view of the gorge, the balcony of Ag. Paraskevi in Monodendri.
Monodendri (Alt. 1060 m)– Monastery of Ag. Paraskevi (Alt. 1050 m)
We save the easiest route for last. This route is more a leisure walk than a hike. From Vradeto and after 31.1 Km we reached Monodendri. Its name is believed to have derived from the large fir tree that existed in the village square until 1840. The paved cobbled streets, the stone-built houses and the great plane-tree of the square are the images we have seen as soon as we arrived. From the entrance of the village there is a sign that shows the way to visit the monastery of Ag. Paraskevi. From this point up to the entrance of the monastery is about 800 m and since the route passes through the village, we had the opportunity to admire it.
Leaving the village slowly behind us and as we moved towards our destination, more and more on our right, the view of the Vikos gorge began to unfold. The cobbled path, brought us to the monastery’s door, 500 vertical meters above the river bed. Built here on the edge of the cliff since 1413, it stands proud over time. We walked in, visited the monastery’s central church, admired the hagiographies that have been preserved for so many centuries and we went to the rooftop for another magnificent view of the gorge.
In front of us, the greatness of nature is unfolding. The view of the canyon from this point, combined with the view of the village, are images that cannot be described in words and a man must see them to understand them and much more to feel them. Of course, the camera was constantly working, and exclamations of admiration were the only words in our vocabulary.
It was already getting dark when we got our way back to our hotel, having knew from so close but also from above, one of the most beautiful parts of Greece.