This in an unremarkable market town in the middle of Roumeli, notable less for its own merits than for what’s around it. The chief attraction, in fact, is the Karpenisi Ski Centre eight miles out of town on Mount Velouhi, perched nearly 6,000 feet above sea level at a spot called Diavolotopos – literally, Devil’s place. This centre has ten pistes, seven ski lifts, the requisite number of restaurants and first aid facilities, and a stunning view of a good part of the central Greek mountain tops that has been compared to the view from near the top of Mont Blanc. Most of Greece is arid and dry but in Karpenisi there is much greenery and forestation. While far away from the sea and the world renowned islands of the Aegean and Ionian, Karpenisi has become an important ski center and an outdoors person’s play ground. In fact during the summer it is a great place to escape the heat.
This is a great place to get a flavor of what traditional Greece is like. We recommend that you add this destination to your itinerary.
Saloon: “a wonderland for children and adults”
No visit to Karpenisi is complete without a visit to this theme park in a bucolic setting.
The Saloon is a year-round dude ranch just one mile south of Karpenisi that offers all the activities you will need to make this an unforgettable visit. There is horseback riding, a kid’s train ride, shooting gallery, archery, scaling wall, mountain biking, trekking, canyoning, playgrounds, shopping, country music concerts and of course a great bar to boot!
Telephone: +30 22370 24606
Located at 4th km south on Karpenisi to Prousos road.
There are two possible explanations for the origin of the name “Evritania”. The first is that is formed from the Greek word “ev” for “well” and the verb “hreo”, for “flow” so that altogether the word “Evritania” means the place where there is plenty of fresh and “well flown” water. The second explanation for the names origins, comes from the verb “evrio”, meaning “stretching the cord of the bow”, hence the name of the first king of the area, Evritos, who was an excellent archer.
In later Roman and Byzantine years, the area became better known, especially after the battle between the Roman and the Aetolian Commonwealth (Greek) armies, in the location of “Kokalia”, which ended in favour of the former. During the Byzantine times, the people of Evritania had the rare privileges of self-government and tax exemption. For this reason the northern part of the district was also called “Agrafa” (unwritten), because the residents were not listed in the Imperial tax registers.
During the Turkish occupation of Greece, this area remained relatively free, especially the very remote areas in the mountains. For this reason, the population of the villages grew. During the 18th century a famous school was created here by Evgenios Yannoulis the Aetolian, a school which had a great contribution in awakening the ethnic consciousness of the nation. The Turks and Albanians raid the territory many times. However one of the turning points, at the historic site of Kefalovrisso, on the night of August 8, 1823, was when General Markos Botsaris was killed by the Turkish army sent by the Sultan to stop the Greek Rebellion. The Greek troops won the battle and, although the great shock from the death of the hero at first, the soldiers were to fight more bravely from then after.
During the Second World War, when Hitler’s Nazis and Mussolini’s fascists were occupying the whole country, the “Government” was established in the village of Viniani during the Spring of 1944 and it proclaimed elections for a National Counsel. This Committee was convoked at Korischades, in the school building in 1944 with representatives from all over the country, and made substantial decisions about the Resistance war. These mountains became the stronghold of the Greek freedom fighters (Hellenic Liberation Army – EL.A.S.) against the German occupation during World War II. In the path of history, Karpenisi faced many destruction, the latest being its burning by the German army in the 1940’s.
Monasteries that are built on high rocks can be visited by anyone. The monks are ready to offer their hospitality and blessings from God to the visitors. The best known are the monasteries of Prousiotisa and Tatarna. They are preserved as part of Greece’s national, religious, and folklore inheritance.
One day should be spend touring the area around the village of Fidakia. You will need to travel about 12 kilometers (on the road towards Agrinio) and once approaching the western ridge of Karpenisi (you know you have passed it when you start down a massive spiral of twisting road). The photo on the right shows the intersection at the ridge you will make a left turn. The photo on the left shows you the sign saying “Fidakia”. You will then travel 17 kilometers on what is now a paved road. When you arrive in Fidakia take the time to tour this tiny coble lined village. On the spot of this village numerous ancient findings have been made. Head towards the Church and try to go inside. Visit the town square and the local tavern. Head to the hill top to see the sunset. From this hill top, if you look all the way down towards the bottom, you will see the area called Kastri — this is where additional ancient findings have been made (pre-Christian burial sites, Roman-Greek battleground, fortifications, etc.). When you get finished with the hilltop go below the Church (left side when facing it), there are two water fountains. Refresh yourself with this cold spring water. Thereafter, we insist you drive about 2 kilometers, after the village, to the ridge over looking the lake. This is an incredible view. If you like you can go another 2 kilometers and overlook from the ridge above the village Ag. Vlacherna.
If you love to hike and mountain climb we recommend you leave Karpenisi around 7am and go to Fidakia. Immediately after Fidakia, about 200 meters, park your car near the mountain stream. Head straight up the stream to the top of the round bald mountain. From there walk over the ridge and up to the tall peak Pikrouvouni. This is a great area bear pack. Be warned that its tougher to come down than go up. For your safety, return the way you came up but if you are an experienced climber, come down the right face (when facing from Fidakia) of Pikrouvouni. When you are finished with this area we are sure you will be amazed at its beauty, yet just 50 years ago it was an area plagued with famine, disease and civil war. We hope no area in the world has to know such strife and that in the end we all live with such peace and beauty as found here in Fidakia.
Megalo Xorio and Mikro Xorio
10 miles south of Karpenisi are also the beautiful villages of Megalo Xorio and Mikro Xorio. You must visit these beautiful towns. Mikro Xorio is divided into two parts, the old and the new (both are very picturesque). Half of “old Mikro Xorio” was wiped out in a mud slide, there after a “new Mikro Xorio” was constructed. Once you have toured these two you should go about 1.5 kilometer past them to the village of Gavros and have lunch at the Petalo +30 (22370) 41487 — you will find it on the left side of road. Make sure to order “xoriatika loukanika” (village sausages) and lamb chops.
After you have stuffed yourself, drive on to Prouso. While going there do notice how the terrain switches back to the what is typical in the rest of Greece. Prouso is a historic monastery and as long as you are properly attired, you must go see the small Church built into the mountain. This scared site contains the Holy Icon Proussiotissa, the Virgin Mary painted by the Apostle and Evangelist Luke. It has been protected here since the 9th century. The monastery’s church was built in 1754 and contains remarkable icons, woodcarvings, sacred treasures and silver utensils. There is also a small museum in the monastery containing several personal things of Karaiskakis, general during the Revolution of Independence in 1821.
On the way back, go by the Old Mikro Xorio. Ask for directions from the locals for the “raxi Xeilidona”. In our opinion this is probably the most breath taking scene of all of Evritania. To get there you will need an off road vehicle, that is a 4×4. There are numerous mountain roads intersecting each other as you ascend, don’t despair keep heading up and towards the ridge. Once there, stay to see the sunset over the lake. This is the ridge of Xeilidona mountain. It is also the grazing grounds for the villages of Ag. Vlaxerna, Fidakia and Mikro Xorio so please do not disturb the sheep or shepherds.
Evritania has historically been an inaccessible area. In fact so rugged was this area it was one of the few areas of Greece that the Ottoman Turks could not enslave. It was to this area, particularly the extremely remote and beautiful area of Agrafa, that Hellenic culture and religion for four centuries was preserved until its emancipation from the Turks in 1821. If you decide to go here, make sure to have a 4×4. Also make sure to go to the villages of Agrafa and Trobato. Access to this region starts about 3 kilometers after the village Kerasshori.
Monasteries and museums worth visiting are:
• Proussos Monastery
• Tatarnas Monastery 9
• Osias Marias Tis Egyptias Retreat
• Korishades National Resistance Museum
• Megalo Horio Folklore Museum
• Palaio Mikro Horio Museum
• Proussos Monastery Museum
• Agia Triada Folklore Museum
• Granitsa Folklore Museum
• Domnista Museum of Folklore and History
Operating hours: Daily from 9:00am till 15.30pm from mid-December till the end of March.
On weekdays you will need €12 while on weekends and holidays €18. The weekly card will cost you €45 except for the dates from 24/12 till 6/1 that the card costs €60. For a group daily card the cost is €8 per person and €12 for holidays. For children till the age of 12 the price ranges from €5 to €12 while the lifts will cost you €8 for Takis Flegas and €10 for Anemos 1.
In an altitude of 1850 m you will find the retreat of the climbing confederacy which is named after Takis Flegas who worked for the creation of a contemporary and modern ski resort in Velouchi. This shelter can accommodate about 30 people for €12 per person and it also has a restaurant with traditional food which will cost you €5. At the same altitude you will find the large two-floor chalet. It includes a cafeteria, a snack bar with two fireplaces, a boutique with ski accessories and a store with traditional products such as sweets, jams and home-made liquors. This year a total renovation has taken place on the premises. At an altitude of 1860 m you will find a small snow bar right next to the ski schools. Relax and get your strength back by eating a sandwich or having a hot cup of chocolate.
Inside the ski center right above the chalet there are many ski instructors waiting to share their knowledge with you. Private lessons will cost you €30 while group lessons for 10 people cost €15 per person, tel no. (+30) 22370-22002.
Ski equipment rental
Inside the chalet you will find ski sets from €15, snowboard sets from €20 while discounts are made for groups of twenty people (from €10 per person). Alternatively you may prefer the slays for €5 an hour or extreme routes with a snowmobile (€30 for 20 minutes).
Try rafting in Tavropos, canoeing in the artificial lake of Kremasta, descending the gorge of Vothonas and jeep safari in Trikeriotis. Alternatively try skiing outside the ski resort with a guide for €20 per person.
The most difficult ski site in Karpenisi is Iraklis 1 which is 800 , starts from the top and ends at the bottom of the lift with the same name. It is a real challenge for experienced skiers.
Accommodation – Velouchi
In Voutyro you will find Amadryades guest house in a picturesque environment of narrow cobbled streets, beautiful gardens and grass surrounding the premises. The studios and suites can accommodate 2-6 people and the prices range from €80 for a double room. Tel no (+30) 22370-80909.
In Agios Nikolaos, in a forest full of chestnuts and only five kilometers from Karpenisi you will find Maritina Chalet which combines luxury, design and warm hospitality. The prices range from €80 for a double room.
Medical Center available on the premises of the ski resort.
Useful telephone numbers
Velouchi ski resort (+30) 22370-23506, 22370-21111, 22370-22002.
Karpenissi City Hall Tel.: 0030 22370 21012-4
Tourist Office Tel.: 0030 22370 21016
Karpenissi Police Station Tel.: 0030 22370 23666, 22966
Hospital Tel.: 0030 22370 80680-3
Ski Center Offices Tel.: 0030 22370 21111
Ski Center Chalet Tel.: 0030 22370 21113, 22002
Ski Center Slopes Tel.: 0030 22370 21112
Ski Center Shelter Tel.: 0030 22370 22114
E.O.S. (Hellenic Mountaineering Association) Tel.: 0030 22370 23051
Sources: karpenisi.com, greek-islands.us, evrytan.gr