Elati – Pertouli – Neraidochori
In the southwest slopes of mount Koziakas, 31 kilometers from Trikala and 13 kilometers from Pyli, in an altitude of 900 meters, lies Elati, one of the most popular winter resorts in Greece. Built amphitheatrically in the foot of the imposing Red Rock, it is a picturesque village with traditional buildings made of stone or wood and small squares ornamented with old public springs and parterres. Its population is 950 inhabitants including the settlements of Agios Georgios, Xylochori, Liopistes and Vlacha. Elati offers a great range of luxury hotels, traditional guesthouses, restaurants with local specialties, cozy coffee places, bars and tourist stores with local products and souvenirs.
The village took its name from the Greek word “elatos” meaning fir-tree, since the area is deep in dense fir forests. Based on archeological remnants in Katofli, the ancient town Pytnaio was in the area of Elati while, according to Byzantine findings the village was erected after the fall of Constantinople in a different site close to the river. In the beginning of the 20th century there were three older settlements which were entirely destroyed by fire in 1943, during the Second World War. The village in its current position was built after 1898, as soon as Trikala were deliberated completely by Turks, and till 1955 it was called Tyrna.
Prophet Elias Grove
Situated in the entrance of the village, the grove is ideal for a short walk and relaxation in company of singing birds and the sound of the perpetual roar of the river. Also, in the middle of the park lies the stone church of Prophet Elias.
The market operates in a small paved square adorned with a stone spring and traditional lamps. Producers’ small wooden huts, lined the one next to the other, offer a great variety of local traditional products and souvenirs.
Rising imposingly among the fir-trees in the western side of the mountain offers a panoramic view of the village. It is accessible by a path, requiring 15 minutes walking, and it serves as an organized climbing field with fixed routes and limestone of good quality.
Located deep among the gray cliffs lying in the eastern slope of mount Koziakas, overlooks the village from an altitude of 1400 meters. According to a legend, a big bear lived in the cave many years ago.
In the heart of mount Koziakas, in an altitude of 1200 meters, there is a small plateau crossed by a crystal stream poured deep into the spacious Bay’s Cave while, a few meters away, a kiosk with a fireplace offers relieve to the visitors. It is a pictorial site with ample vegetation accessible by a path after 1 hour and 30 minutes walking.
Pertouli, a stone gem made of human, lies among the imposing mountains of Koziakas, Neraida, Marosa and Avgo in an altitude of 1150 meters. It is surrounded by a unique fir-tree forest, extended to an area of about 35,000 acres, which is managed by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and used by Forestry students for practice. The village is characterized by the traditional mansions with the loggias, the scattered stone springs and the paved narrow streets steepen around the central square. Its population is 200 inhabitants and it is located 46 kilometers away from Trikala and 15 kilometers away from Elati. It is a tourist destination including a great variety of hotels and guesthouses, restaurants, coffee places and souvenir shops.
Pertouli was firstly mentioned in historic writings of the Monastery of Varlaam in Meteora, in the beginning of the 10th century. In 1720 it was entirely abandoned because of plague and reoccupied by Triantafyllos Xatzis Bertas from whom, as it is believed by many people, it took its name. In 1823 it was burnt with Elati and Pyrra by the Albanians to be rebuilt in 1841 while, during the Second World War, and specifically in 1943, it was destroyed again by the Germans because it hosted the headquarters of the Greek Resisting Army.
Vast grasslands crossed by the small river Xerias, tributary of Achelous, small wood bridges uniting its banks, colourful wildflowers scattered around, cows and horses grazing carefree, dense fir-tree forests unfolded up to the steep slopes, all surrounded by imposing summits, sometimes enfolded in clouds and some other times covered by snow. Like a scene from a postcard, the Meadows of Pertouli lie between the villages of Elati and Pertouli, in an altitude of 1150 meters.
Pertouli Ski Center
Situated in the heart of the Meadows of Pertouli, with its pistes lying among impressive fir-trees and small streams, it makes up a small and cozy ski resort, popular mostly for its location and scenery and not as much as for its slopes.
It is consisted of three runs, including a red 1500 meters long, a blue with a length of 400 meters and a learners’, 80 meters long, as well as a dual chairlift, a t-bar and a baby lift. Additionally, there are equipment rental stores, a ski school and two nice chalets, one of which is located at the top of the main piste with a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and the fir-covered slopes. The center’s typical ski season lasts from late December to late March.
In the small plateau of Bakola, in an altitude of 1750 meters, the refuge of mountain Koziakas nestles among the ridges and the fir-trees. It is a stone residence, built in 1959 and reconstructed twice after consecutive damages, with capacity of 20 persons. A few meters away from the refuge there is a natural source with running crystal clear water and troughs for animals while, the mountain’s top, Astrapi (1901 m.) is in a distance of just 25 minutes walking. There are several routes to the refuge, however the classic one is via the path that begins from the Meadows of Pertouli, right opposite the ski center and lasts 2 hours.
It is a stone bridge located in the Gorge of Mana, crossed by the tributary of Achelous, ornamented with carved representations engraved with exceptional delicacy and art. According to a local legend, the bridge had been demolished repeatedly by the rushing waters of Achelous and the craftsman supported that the blood of the sacrificed animals was not enough for the foothold of the bridge. Therefore, a human had to be sacrificed. Indeed, they grabbed an old woman beggar passing through and built her to the bridge’s keystones. Since then, it is called the Βridge of Gria, meaning “old woman” in Greek. As it is said by the locals, many passers have heard her wailing or have seen her sitting on the bridge.
Chrysomilia Folklore Museum
Chrysomilia is one of the largest villages of the area, built in the northwest slope of mountain Koziakas in an altitude of 950 meters, 10 kilometers away from Pertouli. In the village operates a folklore museum with a large exhibition of old houseware and devices, old tools, traditional cooking utensils, traditional clothing, relics, old weapons as well as black-and-white pictures.
Neraidochori is a beautiful village built in the shadow of mountains Marosa and Neraida, from which it took its name, in an altitude of 1150 meters. In the Greek language “neraida” means fairy therefore, the village is called the place of fairies. The houses with the red roofs lie amphitheatrically in the slope gazing at the peaks of the mountains that sweep round the village while, numerous stone springs with running crystal clear water adorn different alcoves of the settlement. Its population is 320 inhabitants and it is located 51 kilometers away from Trikala and 5 kilometers away from Pertouli. Nowadays, it constitutes a tourist destination offering a variety of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and coffee places.
It is the birthplace of Christodoulos Chatzipetros, chieftain of Pindus area during the Greek Rebellion of 1821, and member of the national revolutionary organization called Filiki Eteria. The first name of the village was Veternik from the Slavic word “vetronik” meaning the place of fairies, while till 1978 it was called Chatzipetrio in honor of the local hero. Also, during the past the wool trading flourished in the village due to the great number of the sheep flocks breed in the area.
Legend has it that once lived in the village two very pretty and rich girls called Maro and Neraidoula. One day a gang of thieves tried to get the girls captive however, the girls managed to escape climbing each one on the top of the two mountains surrounding the village. After the thieves had left the girls didn’t return back to the village but got lost forever. The old men and women of the village had narrated that many times, the moonlit nights they had seen the girls’ shadows rambling over the slopes while, the dark nights they had heard their plaintive voices. Since then the two mountains are called Marosa and Neraida while, in the village was given the name Neraidochori.
It was erected in 1750 bridging the two banks of the stream Pertouliotiko, in an idyllic site, just 2 kilometers outside the village. It is a single-arch bridge made of stone, with length of 30 meters, height of 8 meters and arc development of 17.5 meters.
Right next to the bridge of Chatzipetros spreads Vlachostrata, a paved path on the mountains that was connecting Thessaly with Epirus. It has been used for many centuries by the residents of the highlands to transfer their products and the shepherds for the flocks’ movement. A part of the path, about 1 kilometer long being developed along the stream, has been maintained offering a magnificent view of the area, leading visitor a long way back in time and local tradition.
Saint Paraskevi Monastery
The abbey of Saint Paraskevi stands on Tsiouka, in an altitude of 1270 meters, 2 kilometers away from the village. It was built in 1792 by armatolos Gousios Chatzipetros, in the ruins of the older chapel of Transfiguration and its rhythm is basilica with a dome. At the period of its prime the monastery had a rich library, estates and flocks while, it housed the relics of Saint Modestos of Jerusalem. During the Second World War it served as a hideout for the Greek soldiers and suffered great damages.
Pyrra Folklore Museum
Pyrra built in an altitude of 1050 meters, 5 kilometers away from Neraidochori, is a small and picturesque village hidden in beeches and oaks. The old school of the village has been renovated and converted to a folklore museum with unique and interesting exhibits that present and highlight the area’s traditional way of living.
The region is an ideal destination for mountain sports and outdoor activities such as mountaineering in Koziakas and the surrounding summits of South Pindos and trekking on a wide network of trails unfolding in the nearby forests. The Red Rock in Elati is suitable for climbing while, the caves of Koziakas mount serve for caving. The Meadows of Pertouli are offered for horse riding, cycling, archery, as well as snowmobile rides during the winter season. The local ski center operates usually from late December to late March with three small and easy ski and snowboard pistes. In the area there are offices with experienced escorts, specialized in the organization of outdoor activities.
There are a significant number of local goods produced in all of the villages such as, high quality meat, diary products, homemade pies, herbs and spices, wild mushrooms, dried flowers, pure honey, handmade pasta, frumenty, pure honey, traditional sweets, liqueur and wood sculptured ornaments.