The city of Konitsa is located at the northern end of the Epirus Region and includes 46 settlements and villages. Most of the municipality of Konitsa is located in the National Park of North Pindos and in the Vikos – Aoos Geopark. It is surrounded by the mountains Trapezitsa (2024m), Tymfi (2497m) and Smolikas (2637m) while Grammos Mountain (2520m) stands haughtily at the opposite side. The city is on the exit of the gorge of Aoos where there is also the stone-built single-arched bridge, the trademark of the city. Inside the gorge there is the Monastery of Stomio, with 3 centuries of history and it is our destination.
Distance from Thessaloniki: 317 km
Toll: 6,60 €
European Emergency Number: 112
Fire Brigade Dept: 199
Medical Emergency: 166
Konitsa Forestry Dept: 2655022498
Konitsa Bridge (440m) – Stomio Monastery (710m)
Route Description: Hiking
Route Length: 5.1 km
Water in route: Yes
Duration: 1h 40 min (ascent) – 1h 20 min (descent)
The route took place at JUL 2021
Team members: 5 adults
The next day after our hard ascent to Drakolimni, we had planned to visit the monastery of Stomio. After a great breakfast at our hotel we left the village of Ano Pedina for the city of Konitsa, where we had an appointment with two good friends and team members from Trikala. The meeting place is the edge of the stone bridge, where the path begins. All of us are happy, because we met each other after a long time and because a new route was in “front of us”.
Small talk with greetings, teasing and impressions from the climb to Drakolimni for a little while, took us some time before the starting of the route.
Usually for climbers, this route is part of longer routes that are going up to the highlands of Tymfi, but it can also be a separate hiking destination. It starts from the southern end of the bridge, crawls into the gorge and goes in parallel with the river. Aoos River is flowing quietly under the single-arched bridge and we are following the old earth road, having an East course, opposite to the flow of the river.
The beauty of the landscape and the crystal clear waters between the rocks, are images that captivating us. After about 2 kilometers we meet a small dam that marks the end of the dirt road. This is the place where, the path actually begins. There is also an intersection with a second parallel path that goes higher on the slope. We continue the riverside route having the river on our left hand.
Slowly we leave the civilization behind us immersing ourselves deeper in the gorge and in the forest. Beeches and oaks, hanging on the vertical slopes, give us their shadow and make our route more relaxing. The path is neat and stone-paved in many places and the clear waters of Aoos are flowing next to us, sometimes calmly and sometimes loudly, creating small waterfalls and whirlpools. The sound of the water and its coolness together with the shadow of the forest is refreshing us. After about an hour of walking and 3.5 km the path moves away from the river and begins to ascend into the forest.
The ascent becomes more demanding but without much difficulty and in about half an hour we see a clearing where, at the end of it, there is the monastery. It was founded in 1442, and its original location was at the opposite side, on the slopes of Trapezitsa Mountain, where its ruins are preserved and the area is called “Paliomonastiro”. On its current location, on the lower slopes of Tymfi Mountain, it was moved in 1774.
The monastery is well known as a place of religious tourism and a pole of attraction for many pilgrims mainly due to St. Paisios who was a monk in this place for 4 years (ask to see his cabin) before going to Mount Athos and he is considered one of the renovators of the monastery.
The view is wonderful and exceptional, especially at the back of the monastery, where the whole gorge can be seen from above. We took a break in the yard of the Monastery having coffee and “loukoumaki” (traditional Greek dessert) as a treat from the hospitable monks and we had a mini guided tour since we were the only visitors of the place.
After the necessary photos and videos we filled our water bottles in the fountain located outside the monastery and we took the path back to Konitsa.
On the way back, George and Levi tried the second parallel path, which was narrower and in some cases more demanding as they had to climb rocks that had fallen from landslides to continue the hike.
We reached the bridge again, Nikos and Vangelis took a plunge into the river to cool off and we found the rest of the team in a nice tavern in the main square of Konitsa in order to end this excellent mountaineering weekend with great food and refreshing beers. It was late afternoon when we left for Thessaloniki with one promise, to return to the area, to visit and conquer all the other attractions and landmarks …. and there are many.