Nafpaktos

1. Welcome to Nafpaktos

Nafpaktos beauty in Greece
Nafpaktos beauty in Greece

Nafpaktos is a beautiful city, built amphitheatrically on a pine filled hillside. It has 18,231 permanent residents and it is the second largest city of the Aetolia-Acarnania prefecture. It is 42km from Mesologgi and 10 km from Rio – Antirrio. Nafpaktos is a contemporary city; able to meet all its visitors yet it keeps its traditional style.
The port, with its watchtowers guarding the entrance, charms even the most demanding guests. Also its well preserved Venetian castle on the top of the hill is one of the most beautiful castles in Greece and a real gem for the city.
Nafpaktos is a city with lots of activity year round that increases during the summer. The visitor can find taverns, restaurants, cafes and bars in the city center but also at the beaches nearby or on the hill of the castle that offers a view of the Corinthian Gulf.

2. Activities on Nafpaktos

Nafpaktos holidays, Greece
Nafpaktos holidays, Greece

For the adventurous, alternative activities surround the region of Nafpaktos, rafting at Evino, mountain climbing, walking, Cross country ridding, paintball and the list is long.

Rafting:  Rafting down Evinos River in inflatable boats, lessons with experienced guides in full equipment and the option to stay overnight at Hani Bania and Poros Rigani.

Kayak:  Kayak in Evinos River, lessons with experienced guides in full equipment and the option to stay overnight at Hani Bania and Poros Rigani.

Hiking in Evinos:  Hiking but also horseback riding and rappel on riverside paths of Evinos is also available. There is an option to stay overnight at Hani Bania and Poros Rigani.

Rock Climbing:  About 90 paths have been carved on the slopes of Varasova; with climaxing difficulty and altitude difference (25- 400 meters). There is an option to stay overnight in hotels in Vasiliki and Krioneri.

Hiking in Ano Chrora:   A network of four hiking trails has been detected and imprinted around the village Ano Chora. It is based on the old trails between the villages Ano Chora, Kato Chora, Abelokiotissa and Krioneria. The trails go through forests with pine, chestnut and plane trees and the riverside vegetation is also impressive. These trails make up a part of a larger network of trails that have been used since ancient times. Although the exact age of the trails has not been defined, archaeological findings indicate that the area has been inhabited in since 2500 B.C. and that the morphology of the ground has not been differentiated to a degree that justifies the development of new paths. Option to stay overnight at hotels and guesthouses is available.

4×4 Routes:  Driving your 4×4 on forest roads that pass through dreamscapes; rivers and small villages of Nafpaktia, you will discover paths that are made for an unforgettable experience.

Climbing:   The best way to get a good sense of Nafpaktia is to get in direct contact with nature, walk the mountain trails, talk to the shepherds, quench your thirst on frozen springs and spend the night in a lodge.

The routes listed below are proposed by the Greek Mountaineering Association of Nafpaktos (+30 26340 23072) and are suitable for climbing or hiking.

Let’s start with Varasova (altitude 914 meters) the sacred mountain of Aetolia. Access to the top is easier from Ano Vasiliki and takes about 2. 5 hours. Interesting elements are the amazing view and the existence of abandoned hermitages of monks found in caves with traces of hagiography. On Krioneri side there is one of the best climbing fields in Europe and climbers from all over the world visit throughout the year.

Nafpaktos history, Greece
Nafpaktos history, Greece

Klokova (ancient Tafiassos) (altitude 1037 meters).The route starts at the crossroad before Ano Kalavrouza and lasts about 1.5 hours. The view from the top looking on Patras Gulf, Achaia and Antirrio plateau is amazing. An interesting feature is the clusters of century old oaks.

Rigani (altitude 1469 meters).Climbing to the top of Rigani, where Prophet Elias chapel is, can either start from the side of Vomvokou (2 hour hike) or from the village Rigani.

Tsakalakki (2 peaks, altitude: 1710 and 1697 meters) is one of the most beautiful mountains in the area. The climb can be made either from Agia Kyriaki side, where the Papadia faucet is or from Kentriki side.

Omalia (altitude 1655 meters) is an extended plateau. Climb to the plateau and then to the top is pretty easy, even for young children and is good for a first experience on the mountains. The climb starts at Charatsi and takes less than an hour.

Tsekoura (altitude 1732 meters) is between Ambelakiotissa, Krioneri and Perdikovrysi. It is a difficult mountain especially toward the side of Koritsa and the climb from the village is about 3 hours. An easier climb starts at the neck, in the middle of the road between Ambelakiotissa-Perdikovrysi.

Ardinis is Tsekoura’s brother (altitude 1698 meters). The climb to the top can start from Hani Liolios where the trail is kept and still used by the livestock herders.

Trikorfo Doridos (altitude 1549) is interesting because its peak is accessible to many. The climb is suggested to start at Agioi Apostoli of Potidania and it takes about 1.5 hours through the thick fir forest. Trikorfo with the many forest roads is also ideal for mountain biking.

A very interesting climb is also the one to Niokastro village (altitude 850) through the gorge of Ska. Routes that can be covered by mountain bike are Agia Kyriaki to Kastanologgo Ano Chora and Potidania to Tritokorfo Potidania.

In the area of Nafpaktia there is a mountain shelter that can guest 40 people at Karvounolaka, Grammeni Oxia. The shelter is found in an altitude of 1700 meters and has 2 fireplaces, a kitchen, and a water tank.

More information regarding EOS Lamia (T 22310 26786).

In Fokida there is a mountain shelter at Panaoula above Korkylio at 1100 meters able to guest 10 people with a fireplace, kitchen and a water tank

See also:

Nafpaktiakos Asteras

Nafpaktos holidays, Greece
Nafpaktos holidays, Greece

Nafpaktiakos Asteras is the representative football club of Nafpaktos. It was formed by the conjunction of two former clubs of the city: Nafpaktiakos and Asteras, in 1958. The club’s (full name: “Papacharalambeios Athlitikos Syllogos Nafpaktiakos Asteras”), as well as the team’s home stadium (Papacharalabeio Ethniko Stadio), are named in honour of Dimitrios Papacharalambous, a benefactor of the city.

Lepanto Runners

Lepanto Runners was founded in Nafpaktos on January 20th 2009 as a non profit organization. Its full name is “Lepanto, Long distances and marathons runners association”.

Objectives of Lepanto Runners are:

  1. Improving fitness and racing skills of members and their friends through the sport.
  2. The uplifting of athletic spirit and development of friendship and cooperation between those who love sports, especially long distances running.
  3. The creation of solidarity and cooperation among the relevant associations across the country and abroad.
  4. Bringing all relevant associations and runners together through sports events.
  5. Advancement of the Marathon.
  6. Creation of basketball, volleyball, triathlon, swimming, cycling and other teams and the organization of sports’ events.
  7. Creation of a sports’ club and a sports’ library.
  8. The organization of athletic conferences and lectures as well as other social events.
  9. Lepanto Runners encourage “fair play” and promote the spirit of sportsmanship

Members’ Rights and Obligations

  1. Member’s can become people over 18 years old regardless sex, religion or nationality. Members should be inspired by the athletic spirit and should accept the statute of the organization and the decisions of the general meetings.
  2. Membership may be obtained following request, a consistent proposal by three members and the decision of the Board.
  3. One that loves sports may become friend of the Organization, with all the rights and obligations of a member apart from the right of vote.
  4. Greeks and foreigners that have contributed in the goals of the Organization may become Honorary Members after the Board’s decision without an obligation of subscription.
  5. Each member has the right to withdraw from the Organization after a written statement, disclosed to the Board. No outgoing member has any right over the property of the Organization.

More info: lepantorunners.gr

Nafpaktos Nautical Club

Nafpaktos Nautical Club was founded in 1964 and aims in promoting nautical sports in general. The Club has occasionally organized regional and Pan-Hellenic Games in Nafpaktos and its athletes have excelled in a national level. The Nautical Club gives the opportunity to children of all ages and adults to engage in water sports.

More info: nonafpaktos.blogspot.com

3. Best beaches on Nafpaktos

Nafpaktos vacations, Greece
Nafpaktos vacations, Greece

East and west of the city are 2 beaches where you can swim. The beautiful beach in the district of Psani is 1 km long with great plane trees and luxurious stores. This beautiful beach has been many times awarded with blue flags by the E.U. During the summer months it is literally flooded by vacationers who enjoy the beach and water by day and a cool walk on the beachside road by night. At Gribovo beach one can enjoy the shade and dew of the perennial plane trees but also can find modern hotels, cafes and restaurants that attract thousands of tourists mainly in the summer months.

4. Sightseeing on Nafpaktos

Castle of Nafpaktos:  The castle is at the top of a hill that overlooks the city. This hill has the shape of a pyramid.

The grandiose fortifications of Nafpaktos built in successive construction phases, climax from the ancient times to the Ottoman Empire and, in spite of the catastrophes and damage suffered remain as one of the most important and best preserved examples of castle architecture in Greece.

We cannot say with certainty what was the form of the castle in ancient times, but it is certain that the walls existed. Remains of ancient walls are still found today on the sea side as well as the western side of the castle. It is quite possible that the castle may not have always had the form it has today with the five levels. This form was given mainly during Venetian rule.

The top of the hill is surrounded by a circular wall that is 100 meters in diameter. Two arms that follow the slope of the ground come down one to the east and one to the west and once they bend they approach again to one another and close the ports entrance with two towers.

Botsaris Tower:  At the North side of the Port Square one can see a group of imposing buildings that attract attention and interest of anyone who sees it for the first time. It is the “Botsari Tower”.

The Tower was built in two phases, within the 15th and 16th century and was many times used as the residence of the local governors. Immediately after the liberation of Nafpaktos in 1829 the building came into the possession of the Soulioti general Notis Botsaris.

Today the tower belongs to the “Dimitrios and Egli Botsari Foundation” and hosts a year-round exhibition of replica paintings, maps and designs related to the Battle of Lepanto (1571 A.D.).

port in Nafpaktos, Greece
port in Nafpaktos, Greece

Port of Nafpaktos:   The small, picturesque port has the shape of a horseshoe with an opening of 35 meters. Left and right to the entrance are two towers. After the city’s liberation in 1829 the port still remained an important transportation and commercial centre that gave live to the city. Transportation to the shore of Achaia, Psathopyrgos and Patras were made by small boat. Also for many years the transportation with the prefecture capital Mesologgi, was made with small boats from Nafpaktos to Patra and from there to Kryoneri – Galata and then through local roads one could reach Mesologgi.

At the outer harbor of Nafpaktos large ships with goods arrived which were transported to the villages of mountainous Nafpaktia and Dorida. These activities gave life to the port and the surrounding area, Stenopazaro. Many families lived off of the port, sailors, marine workers, cart operators and other professionals. This situation lasted until the middle of the 20th century, and more specifically 1947, when the ferry Rio – Antirrio was created. Then Nafpaktos began to lose two of her main sectors of economic life. The port commercial activity and the transit trade which are now easier facilitated by the increased use of cars.

Today the small picturesque port accepts daily dozens of small cruise and sailing ships with European travelers especially during the summer months.

Rio–Antirrio Bridge:  Rio–Antirrio Bridge is the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridge. It crosses the Gulf of Corinth near Patras, linking the town of Rio on the Peloponnese to Antirrio on mainland Greece.

Patras holidays, Greece
Patras holidays, Greece

Its official name is the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge. Charilaos Trikoupis was a 19th-century Greek prime minister; he suggested the idea of building a bridge between Rio and Antirrio. The project was too expensive at the time, when Greece was trying to get a late start in the Industrial Revolution.

The 2,880 m (9,449 ft) long bridge (approximately 1.8 miles) dramatically improves access to and from the Peloponnese, which could previously be reached only by ferry or via the isthmus of Corinth at its extreme east end. Its width is 28 m (92 ft) — it has two vehicle lanes per direction, an emergency lane and a pedestrian walkway. Its five-span four-pylon cable-stayed portion of length 2,252 m (7,388 ft) is the world’s second longest cable-stayed deck.

This bridge is widely considered to be an engineering masterpiece, owing to several solutions applied to span the difficult site. These difficulties include deep water, insecure materials for foundations, seismic activity, the probability of tsunamis, and the expansion of the Gulf of Corinth due to plate tectonics.

Due to the peculiar conditions of the straits, several unique engineering problems needed to be considered. The water depth reaches 65 m, the seabed is mostly of loose sediment, the seismic activity and possibility of tectonic movement is significant, and the Gulf of Corinth is expanding at a rate of about 30 mm a year. For these reasons, special construction techniques were applied. The piers are not buried into the seabed, but rather rest on a bed of gravel which was meticulously leveled to an even surface (a difficult endeavor at this depth). During an earthquake, the piers should be allowed to move laterally on the seabed with the gravel bed absorbing the energy. The bridge parts are connected to the pylons using jacks and dampers to absorb movement; too rigid a connection would cause the bridge structure to fail in the event of an earthquake. It was also important that the bridge not have too much lateral leeway so as not to damage the piers. There is provision for the gradual expansion of the strait over the bridge’s lifetime.

Patras beaches, Greece
Patras beaches, Greece

The bridge was planned in the mid-1990s and was built by a French-Greek consortium led by the French group Vinci, and which includes the Greek companies Hellenic Technodomiki-TEV, J&P-Avax, Athena, Proodeftiki and Pantechniki. The consortium operates the bridge under concession under its G.E.F.Y.R.A., Greek for “bridge”, French-Greek Carrier of Oversea Connection of Rio–Antirrio subsidiary. The lead architect was Berdj Mikaelian. Site preparation and dredging began in July 1998, and construction of the massive supporting pylons in 2000. With these complete in 2003, work began on the traffic decks and supporting cables. On May 21, 2004, the main construction was completed; only equipment (sidewalks, railings, etc.) and waterproofing remained to be installed.

The bridge was finally inaugurated on August 7, 2004, a week before the opening of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Olympic torchbearers were the first to officially cross its length. One of them was Otto Rehhagel, the German football coach who won the Euro 2004 Championships for Greece. Another was Costas Laliotis, the former Minister of Public Works during whose term the project had begun.

The bridge received the 2006 Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering. In 2011 the bridge was featured on TV in an episode of Richard Hammond’s Engineering Connections.

Antirrio Castle:  Antirrio played an important role in the Byzantine and post Byzantine era due to its strategic position. Antirrio followed Nafpaktos’ fate, when it was surrendered in 1499 during the first year of the Venetian Turkish war.

Nafpaktos sightseeing, Greece
Nafpaktos sightseeing, Greece

It was then that Soultan Vagiatzit II realized the strategic significance of the «strait» and secured the entrance with the construction of two forts on both capes (Rio of Moria and Rio of Roumeli), on ancient foundations. The channel of Rion was named during the 17th century as Dardanelia of Nafpaktos, Antirrio was also named as Kasteli of Roumelis, while the opposite Rio Kasteli of Moria for their powerful position.

Today, the medieval castle has been restored by the Ministry of Culture and it is used for cultural events during the summer months.

Ano Chora:  Ano Chora is linked to the great Byzantine family Kanaveoi from which an emperor came. After the Franks conquest in 1204 and later the Ottomans the invasion in 1453 Constantinople many seigniorial families of the city escaped to safer places. The establishment of Kanaveoi in Kravara is unclear as there is no solid evidence. We meet written proof of Kanaveoi in Kravara in 1739. One thing is certain that they were leaders not only in Ano Chora but in all the villages of Kravara. Kanaveoi also founded the great Academy of Ano Chora. But Kanaveoi were banished between 1800 and 1801 by Ali Pasa and were forced to seek refuge in Egio thus the Academy closed. We should mention that Father Kosmas of Aetolia had attended the academy during 1734 and taught in the school until 1738. The last of Kanaveoi family was Ioannis Nikolaou Kanavos (1866-1953) who was elected as Member of the Parliament but also as Senator and Minister for many times.

Undoubtedly the natural environment of the village is its greatest enticement. The forests are a natural mosaic made of many different types of trees such as: chestnut, fir, cedar oak and other. Amongst the fir, chestnut, cedar trees and fern there are many springs.

During these past years Ano Chora is taking full advantage of its natural beauty and social infrastructure like the Health Centre in order to create attractive tourist infrastructure that will make the village a tourist destination. The old stonemason houses but also the new ones have blended in the natural environment; the traditional cafés and the cobblestone streets; the traditionally built hotels and guesthouses under the big plane trees, make up an idyllic atmosphere and grab the attention of the observer. The church of Agia Paraskevi (1918) is also magnificent with its two imposing cruciform bell towers built with carved black stones. The icons of Agia Paraskevi and Panagia SKopiotissa also stand out.

Moreover, there is much to see from the Lakoula Hill to the hill of Aye Giorgi. Even the small bus (Karnavalos) served as public transportation until 1983. Now it is on display by Agia Paraskevi church. During mid-October the chestnut and tsipouro festival is organized where tsipouro is distilled; roasted chestnuts, traditional pies, stew and deserts served (baklava, ravani, kourabie, cherry, chestnut, walnut, and quince).

Nafpaktos sites, Greece
Nafpaktos sites, Greece

Platanos:   Platanos used to be the capital of the original rather small municipality of Proschios (with Klipaida and Pyllini) and then the capital Platanos municipality. Kato Platanos (former Vonorta) also belongs to this district. It is located on the eastern slopes of mount Alonaki (altitude 1418 meters) at an altitude of 860 meters.

It is located within a beautiful forest with diverse flora (fir, cedar, cornel trees and others). It seems that before Platanos was built in its present location there were small settlements in the areas Bourlada, with the church of the Tehotokos (Paliokklisi) Pogoniska with the church Agia Paraskevi, Palialonia, Pognia, Aye Vlasis and Valsamos. There is also a scenario that in addition to these settlements there was a settlement in “Megali Vrysi” area which attracted the other settlements due to its healthy climate. It cannot be ruled out though that from Platanos settlement, which got its name from the plane tree of “Megali Vrysi”, the above small settlements were created for farmland purposes. Traces of ancient ruins have been found at Pougouiska, Pourlada Vonorta (St.Taxiarches), St. Athanasios (Milia), Fteri (St. George) and Megali Vrysi. Some of the findings have been timed at the post classical times by archaeologists.

Platanos has a long history; it was a prosperous and rich village. The number of stores that existed verifies this fact. Platanos is a traditional settlement.

Stone houses are a majority and arouse great interest. Rontiraika (1847), the house of Margarits (1850), the house of Kolotourou (Koletta 1840) and the house of Aggelaki (1850) all with impressive rock reliefs are some of the oldest houses of Platanos. The St. Nikolas church stands out (1846) grandeur and domineering at the centre of the village. Its rythm is basillic with two beauteous and castellated steeples and a triconch arch on the altar, rare structural art. Impressive are the stone reliefs of the doorframes of the southern part of the church. Majestic is also the interior of the church with icons and heirlooms of great value.

Noteworthy at the square of the village are two museums: a) National Resistance museum with photographic archives and a collection of related books and documents, b) the history – folklore museum with a significant collection of historic and folklore elements. As you walk through the cobblestone streets you may see other important buildings of the settlement like the school and the health centre, the rock faucets and the bust statues of Karaiskaki who had militarilize Platanos as well as eminent personalities of Platanos.

Megali Vrysi, a climb to the forest, a visit to the churches (Holy Archangels, St. George, St. Elias, St. Paraskevi) and to other picturesque spots of the village are some of the greater or smaller routes a visitor can take. South of Platanos is Kato Platanos (former Vonorta) settlement. It is a byzantine village and during that times (1454) it was a bit larger (population-wise) than Platanos.

Ayia Kyriaki:   It is situated within an exceptional forest area at 1300 meters altitude surrounded by a dense fir tree forest with a view of the Corinthian Gulf. In this area a 20 kilometer mountain bike trail has also been defined; starting from Livadaki and reaching Ano Chora.

Furthermore there are some hiking routes: one to Tsakalaki top starting at Papadias Hani; another to Makrinorous top (altitude 1560 meters) starting at Agia Kyriaki and even to 2 consecutive peaks Xerovouni (altitude 1500 meters) and Agios Konstantinos (altitude 1450 meters) starting at the neck of Agia Kyriaki.

Papadias Hani is 2 km from Agia Kyriaki and is an area of wild natural beauty that is available for nature watching especially during the summer.

Due to its special natural beauty and the short distance from Nafpaktos (appx. 30 min) the area of Agia Kyriaki is suitable for business activity such as the creation of campsites.

Roupakia:  Roupakia is an oak forest of exceptional beauty in an altitude of 820 meters. The area presents an exceptional biodiversity and is ideal for nature observation, bird watching and environmental study. In this area on the first Sunday of July the municipality organizes the event “Shepherd’s Life” Festival in cooperation with animal farmers and cultural groups. It is the reliving of shepherds life with a re-enactment of traditional life events (i.e. traditional wedding). The event is organized with great respect to tradition and every year draws a great number of visitors.

Loutra Stachtis:   Loutra Stachtis and its sanative springs are known from ancient times for treating illnesses like arthritis, skin problems dermatoses, rheumatism and that they are even appropriate for drinking therapy. Today bath facilities operate along with a small hotel and a restaurant.

Loutra Stachtis are offered for development initiatives that will also contribute in the development of the greater area.

Comparative advantages, beyond the healing properties of water include:

Natural environment. It is located in a verdant area. In the 95 acres that surround it, but also in the greater surroundings plane trees, holly reedbuck, oak trees and many other plants dominate and create a unique environment. The area is a natural hideout of many endemic species like deer, wild bores and other animals and birds that make up the fauna of the area. The complex of the mountains, the stone bridges along the banks of the Evinos and Kotsalos Rivers give the opportunity for hiking and walking.

The eminent position. Loutra Stachtis are in the area which is 30 kilometres from Nafpaktos and 40 kilometers from the Rio Hospital (distances that facilitate visitors of all ages from big residential centres even for the weekend). The location of thermal springs on the tourist map of the area (Nafpaktos, Evinolimni, Upper Town, Thermo, Bursa, Karpenissi) can make it a central Development Center, especially given the radial road connection with the aforementioned city-regions. The area of thermal springs along with Evinolimni and Apodotia and can be one of the three pillars of development of mountainous Nafpaktia.

The integration of the valley that surrounds the thermal spring area in programs those promote biological production (animal and plant). In the valley that is formed between Poriari and Evinos a biological farming program is already in progress.

Thermo Environmental Centre has launched a Environmental Educational program for students that includes visits to the greater area of Loutra Stachtis (Evinos, Kareli, Artotiva Bridge etcetera). Through the educational programs and visits students become familiar with the area and they turn out to be the best ambassadors of the greater area and their hometown.

The small distance of Loutra Stachtis from Evinos River (Poros – Hani Bania) that has become a centre for river sports and activities (Kayak, canoeing, rafting) and gathers a large number of visitors.

The character of the new investment. It is believed that Loutropiyi Stachtis must be a major point of reference for mountainous Nafpaktia. In other words it can be turned into a modern Loutropoli (spa) that will attract: users of hot springs; young people who are looking for escape and contact with natural environment; people who want alternative forms of vacation; hunters; hikers and weekend vacationers.

In order for Loutropiyi to become attractive to the demanding visitor it must be exploited. This means the realization of investments for the building of modern hotel (units), swimming pools, baths, sports facilities, restaurants and cafés, a convention centre, a special unit to organize river activities, special unit for cultural events. All these of course presuppose the appropriate shaping of the surrounding area. The specific area is suitable for the creation of a suburban forest.

Varasova:  The mountainous region of Varasova has been declared as a historical area with special natural beauty. The churches, monasteries and hermitages of the Byzantine era that were developed in the hard to reach slopes of Vararova today are all abandoned. The remaining evidence proves the influence of the monastic life on the mountain.

The most important samples are:

West of kato Vasiliki, on a low hill near the village, south-east of Varasova there are the ruins of a Byzantine church dedicated to Agios Dimitrios. The church is timed in the 11th century and has great architectural interest. Designed with a strong sense of balance and made with diligence and elegance, it maintains to date through its ruins the harmonious combination of lines angles and arches. Due to its dominating construction and the large size it appears to have been a spiritual and guiding centre of the area.

At the southern hidden side of Varasova about 80 meters above the sea level a wide rock shelter cave opens up in which are ruins of an organized byzantine eremite group dedicated to Saint Nicholas. The cave of Saint Nicholas west of Kato Vasiliki is impressive due to it obvious organization and fortress character despite its ruined condition. The fact that such a significant part of the church and the tank are preserved in satisfactory condition shows that the cave was abandoned very late. However, what makes the monument unique is the existence of an engleistra. That is a small cave on top of a bigger one, at a height of 10 meters where the monk stayed in order to devote to prayer or the writing of some ermitage text. This engleistra is the only one in Greece. Access to the cave is possible only by sea.

The hermitage of the Holy Fathers stands out on the north-eastern side of Varasova. The cave was painted with illustrations during the 10th – 11th centuries, but long abandonment destroyed most of the coatings. However, it still presents a great interest.

Saint Peter’s monastery ruins are east of the village Perithori on the western slope of Varasova, within an area of very tall trees and water. Ruins of the single room functioning church are salvaged. This monastery is timed in the post byzantine period and it is the only one that has salvaged the walled Perivolos in Varasova.

At the neck of Varasova and north-east from “Pygadi” (well) the ruins of a church dedicated to Virgin Mary are salvaged. “Pygadi” is at 800 meters altitude at a long narrow plateau surrounded by rock walls and century old oak trees.

Cave hermitages also exist in many other places in Varasova like Ano Vasiliki and Galatas and can be seen from afar.

5. Villages and settlements on Nafpaktos

Ano Chora:  Ano Chora is linked to the great Byzantine family Kanaveoi from which an emperor came. After the Franks conquest in 1204 and later the Ottomans the invasion in 1453 Constantinople many seigniorial families of the city escaped to safer places. The establishment of Kanaveoi in Kravara is unclear as there is no solid evidence. We meet written proof of Kanaveoi in Kravara in 1739. One thing is certain that they were leaders not only in Ano Chora but in all the villages of Kravara. Kanaveoi also founded the great Academy of Ano Chora. But Kanaveoi were banished between 1800 and 1801 by Ali Pasa and were forced to seek refuge in Egio thus the Academy closed. We should mention that Father Kosmas of Aetolia had attended the academy during 1734 and taught in the school until 1738. The last of Kanaveoi family was Ioannis Nikolaou Kanavos (1866-1953) who was elected as Member of the Parliament but also as Senator and Minister for many times.

Undoubtedly the natural environment of the village is its greatest enticement. The forests are a natural mosaic made of many different types of trees such as: chestnut, fir, cedar oak and other. Amongst the fir, chestnut, cedar trees and fern there are many springs.

During these past years Ano Chora is taking full advantage of its natural beauty and social infrastructure like the Health Centre in order to create attractive tourist infrastructure that will make the village a tourist destination. The old stonemason houses but also the new ones have blended in the natural environment; the traditional cafés and the cobblestone streets; the traditionally built hotels and guesthouses under the big plane trees, make up an idyllic atmosphere and grab the attention of the observer. The church of Agia Paraskevi (1918) is also magnificent with its two imposing cruciform bell towers built with carved black stones. The icons of Agia Paraskevi and Panagia SKopiotissa also stand out.

Moreover, there is much to see from the Lakoula Hill to the hill of Aye Giorgi. Even the small bus (Karnavalos) served as public transportation until 1983. Now it is on display by Agia Paraskevi church. During mid-October the chestnut and tsipouro festival is organized where tsipouro is distilled; roasted chestnuts, traditional pies, stew and deserts served (baklava, ravani, kourabie, cherry, chestnut, walnut, and quince).

Platanos:   Platanos used to be the capital of the original rather small municipality of Proschios (with Klipaida and Pyllini) and then the capital Platanos municipality. Kato Platanos (former Vonorta) also belongs to this district. It is located on the eastern slopes of mount Alonaki (altitude 1418 meters) at an altitude of 860 meters.

It is located within a beautiful forest with diverse flora (fir, cedar, cornel trees and others). It seems that before Platanos was built in its present location there were small settlements in the areas Bourlada, with the church of the Tehotokos (Paliokklisi) Pogoniska with the church Agia Paraskevi, Palialonia, Pognia, Aye Vlasis and Valsamos. There is also a scenario that in addition to these settlements there was a settlement in “Megali Vrysi” area which attracted the other settlements due to its healthy climate. It cannot be ruled out though that from Platanos settlement, which got its name from the plane tree of “Megali Vrysi”, the above small settlements were created for farmland purposes. Traces of ancient ruins have been found at Pougouiska, Pourlada Vonorta (St.Taxiarches), St. Athanasios (Milia), Fteri (St. George) and Megali Vrysi. Some of the findings have been timed at the post classical times by archaeologists.

Platanos has a long history; it was a prosperous and rich village. The number of stores that existed verifies this fact. Platanos is a traditional settlement.

Stone houses are a majority and arouse great interest. Rontiraika (1847), the house of Margarits (1850), the house of Kolotourou (Koletta 1840) and the house of Aggelaki (1850) all with impressive rock reliefs are some of the oldest houses of Platanos. The St. Nikolas church stands out (1846) grandeur and domineering at the centre of the village. Its rythm is basillic with two beauteous and castellated steeples and a triconch arch on the altar, rare structural art. Impressive are the stone reliefs of the doorframes of the southern part of the church. Majestic is also the interior of the church with icons and heirlooms of great value.

Noteworthy at the square of the village are two museums: a) National Resistance museum with photographic archives and a collection of related books and documents, b) the history – folklore museum with a significant collection of historic and folklore elements. As you walk through the cobblestone streets you may see other important buildings of the settlement like the school and the health centre, the rock faucets and the bust statues of Karaiskaki who had militarilize Platanos as well as eminent personalities of Platanos.

Megali Vrysi, a climb to the forest, a visit to the churches (Holy Archangels, St. George, St. Elias, St. Paraskevi) and to other picturesque spots of the village are some of the greater or smaller routes a visitor can take. South of Platanos is Kato Platanos (former Vonorta) settlement. It is a byzantine village and during that times (1454) it was a bit larger (population-wise) than Platanos.

Nafpaktos holidays, Greece
Nafpaktos holidays, Greece

Ayia Kyriaki:   It is situated within an exceptional forest area at 1300 meters altitude surrounded by a dense fir tree forest with a view of the Corinthian Gulf. In this area a 20 kilometer mountain bike trail has also been defined; starting from Livadaki and reaching Ano Chora.

Furthermore there are some hiking routes: one to Tsakalaki top starting at Papadias Hani; another to Makrinorous top (altitude 1560 meters) starting at Agia Kyriaki and even to 2 consecutive peaks Xerovouni (altitude 1500 meters) and Agios Konstantinos (altitude 1450 meters) starting at the neck of Agia Kyriaki.

Papadias Hani is 2 km from Agia Kyriaki and is an area of wild natural beauty that is available for nature watching especially during the summer.

Due to its special natural beauty and the short distance from Nafpaktos (appx. 30 min) the area of Agia Kyriaki is suitable for business activity such as the creation of campsites.

Roupakia:  Roupakia is an oak forest of exceptional beauty in an altitude of 820 meters. The area presents an exceptional biodiversity and is ideal for nature observation, bird watching and environmental study. In this area on the first Sunday of July the municipality organizes the event “Shepherd’s Life” Festival in cooperation with animal farmers and cultural groups. It is the reliving of shepherds life with a re-enactment of traditional life events (i.e. traditional wedding). The event is organized with great respect to tradition and every year draws a great number of visitors.

Loutra Stachtis:   Loutra Stachtis and its sanative springs are known from ancient times for treating illnesses like arthritis, skin problems dermatoses, rheumatism and that they are even appropriate for drinking therapy. Today bath facilities operate along with a small hotel and a restaurant.

Loutra Stachtis are offered for development initiatives that will also contribute in the development of the greater area.

Comparative advantages, beyond the healing properties of water include:

Natural environment. It is located in a verdant area. In the 95 acres that surround it, but also in the greater surroundings plane trees, holly reedbuck, oak trees and many other plants dominate and create a unique environment. The area is a natural hideout of many endemic species like deer, wild bores and other animals and birds that make up the fauna of the area. The complex of the mountains, the stone bridges along the banks of the Evinos and Kotsalos Rivers give the opportunity for hiking and walking.

The eminent position. Loutra Stachtis are in the area which is 30 kilometres from Nafpaktos and 40 kilometers from the Rio Hospital (distances that facilitate visitors of all ages from big residential centres even for the weekend). The location of thermal springs on the tourist map of the area (Nafpaktos, Evinolimni, Upper Town, Thermo, Bursa, Karpenissi) can make it a central Development Center, especially given the radial road connection with the aforementioned city-regions. The area of thermal springs along with Evinolimni and Apodotia and can be one of the three pillars of development of mountainous Nafpaktia.

The integration of the valley that surrounds the thermal spring area in programs those promote biological production (animal and plant). In the valley that is formed between Poriari and Evinos a biological farming program is already in progress.

Thermo Environmental Centre has launched a Environmental Educational program for students that includes visits to the greater area of Loutra Stachtis (Evinos, Kareli, Artotiva Bridge etcetera). Through the educational programs and visits students become familiar with the area and they turn out to be the best ambassadors of the greater area and their hometown.

The small distance of Loutra Stachtis from Evinos River (Poros – Hani Bania) that has become a centre for river sports and activities (Kayak, canoeing, rafting) and gathers a large number of visitors.

The character of the new investment. It is believed that Loutropiyi Stachtis must be a major point of reference for mountainous Nafpaktia. In other words it can be turned into a modern Loutropoli (spa) that will attract: users of hot springs; young people who are looking for escape and contact with natural environment; people who want alternative forms of vacation; hunters; hikers and weekend vacationers.

In order for Loutropiyi to become attractive to the demanding visitor it must be exploited. This means the realization of investments for the building of modern hotel (units), swimming pools, baths, sports facilities, restaurants and cafés, a convention centre, a special unit to organize river activities, special unit for cultural events. All these of course presuppose the appropriate shaping of the surrounding area. The specific area is suitable for the creation of a suburban forest.

Varasova:  The mountainous region of Varasova has been declared as a historical area with special natural beauty. The churches, monasteries and hermitages of the Byzantine era that were developed in the hard to reach slopes of Vararova today are all abandoned. The remaining evidence proves the influence of the monastic life on the mountain.

The most important samples are:

West of kato Vasiliki, on a low hill near the village, south-east of Varasova there are the ruins of a Byzantine church dedicated to Agios Dimitrios. The church is timed in the 11th century and has great architectural interest. Designed with a strong sense of balance and made with diligence and elegance, it maintains to date through its ruins the harmonious combination of lines angles and arches. Due to its dominating construction and the large size it appears to have been a spiritual and guiding centre of the area.

At the southern hidden side of Varasova about 80 meters above the sea level a wide rock shelter cave opens up in which are ruins of an organized byzantine eremite group dedicated to Saint Nicholas. The cave of Saint Nicholas west of Kato Vasiliki is impressive due to it obvious organization and fortress character despite its ruined condition. The fact that such a significant part of the church and the tank are preserved in satisfactory condition shows that the cave was abandoned very late. However, what makes the monument unique is the existence of an engleistra. That is a small cave on top of a bigger one, at a height of 10 meters where the monk stayed in order to devote to prayer or the writing of some ermitage text. This engleistra is the only one in Greece. Access to the cave is possible only by sea.

The hermitage of the Holy Fathers stands out on the north-eastern side of Varasova. The cave was painted with illustrations during the 10th – 11th centuries, but long abandonment destroyed most of the coatings. However, it still presents a great interest.

Saint Peter’s monastery ruins are east of the village Perithori on the western slope of Varasova, within an area of very tall trees and water. Ruins of the single room functioning church are salvaged. This monastery is timed in the post byzantine period and it is the only one that has salvaged the walled Perivolos in Varasova.

At the neck of Varasova and north-east from “Pygadi” (well) the ruins of a church dedicated to Virgin Mary are salvaged. “Pygadi” is at 800 meters altitude at a long narrow plateau surrounded by rock walls and century old oak trees.

Cave hermitages also exist in many other places in Varasova like Ano Vasiliki and Galatas and can be seen from afar.

6. The history and mythology of Nafpaktos

Nafpaktos harbor, Greece
Nafpaktos harbor, Greece

In its 3500 year history, from the descent of the Dorians to this day, Nafpaktos and the greater region have always played an important role in history as well as in culture. The founding of the ancient city is lost in the centuries, where it is hard to identify where myth ends and history begins.

The statue of Nike (victory) that was sculptured by Paionios of Mendi in Chalkidiki, was a dedication of the Nafpaktians and the Messenians after their victory over the Spartans in Sfaktiria in 421 B.C. It is considered to be a masterpiece of ancient Greek sculpture. The monumental statue is 10.92 meters tall and it represents the winged goddess, ethereal, radiant and full of life as she’s coming down of mount Olympus to announce the victory of the two allies. The thin cloak clings to her body thus one can see the perfect shaping of her body. It is the first time in the history of Greek sculpture where the illusion of flying is depicted. The wings, the cape as well as the face of the statue have been destroyed. The statue of Nike was found in 1875 in Olympia after archaeological excavations and it is exposed in the Olympia museum.

Nafpaktos history, Greece
Nafpaktos history, Greece

In the end of the 12th century B.C. the coastal city becomes affiliated with the Iraklidians (Dorians). It was in Nafpaktos where the Iraklidians built their ships to cross over to Peloponissos.

Nafpaktos’ strategic position in the Corinthian Gulf was the reason that made it “the apple of discord” among the powerful throughout history.

Ancient writings give us evidence that Nafpaktos was the centre of the dispute of ancient Greece and played a significant role in the Aetolian confederacy. Lokri, Athenians, Messenians, Achaeans, Thebans, Macedonians and Aetolians alternate in the city’s leadership throughout centuries.

During the Roman period Aetolia went into decline and there aren’t any records of Nafpaktos’ status for this period. Nevertheless, archaeological findings reveal a fully organized city with public roads and private buildings all built during the Roman era within the city centre close to where the 1st elementary school is today located.

In the post Christian centuries, due to barbaric invasions (Visigoths, Huns, Normans, Slavs, Syracusan, Bulgarians and others); disasters such as earthquakes and others, Nafpaktos passed to obscurity for many centuries.

The city bounced back dynamically into the spotlight after 1204, when it was a part of the Principality of Epirus. During this time the archbishop of Nafpaktos later archbishop of Arta, Ioannis Apokafkos (1204-1232) played a significant role in the ecclesiastic and political history of the Principality. In 1407 Nafpaktos was conquered by the Venetians, and met a period of embellishment and prosperity; it became a commercial centre that competed Patra’s commercial motion. During this period the castle was restored and took on the form we see today.

Nafpaktos vacations, Greece
Nafpaktos vacations, Greece

After the Venetians it was Ottoman Empire’s turn to rule the Balkans. After repeated attacks from the Turks the city surrendered to Soultan Vagiazit II in 1499. For the protection of Nafpaktos the Turks built two forts at the entrance of the Corinthian gulf, Rio and Antirrio, called the “small Dardanellians”.

The constant expansion of the Ottomans forced the leaders of the European countries to unite in order to face the threat. After continual effort, Pope Pius V succeeded in creating the Holy League (Sacra Liga Antiturca). Spain, Venice, Rome, Savoy, Malta and some other Italian states gathered to a sacred crusade to cut off the Ottomans’ expansion.

The Christian fleet with Don Juan Prince of Spain, the King’s brother as fleet admiral and the Ottoman fleet with Moezin Zante Ali Pasha as fleet admiral had an incredible naval battle on October7, 1571 on the outfall of the Achelous River near Echinades that remained in history as the Battle of Lepanto. The victory of the Christian fleet was a milestone for the further course of Western civilization. After the battle many pirates from the Mediterranean gathered in the area turning Nafpaktos into a “small Algiers”.

In 1687 the Venetian Morozini along with the Austrian allies took Nafpaktos from the Turks and turned her over to the Venetians. A second small period of Venetian rule followed (1687-1701). In 1701 Nafpaktos was surrendered to the Turks again according to the Treaty of Karlowitz and was enslaved until April 1829.

When the Greek revolution broke out in 1821 Nafpaktos became a Turkish military base because of its strong fortifications. This is the reason why Nafpaktos was freed in the last year of the revolution. On April 18, 1829 as the Turks and Albanians were unable to withstand the siege they surrendered Nafpaktos to the Greek governor Ioannis Kapodistrias.

After its release, Augustine Kapodistrias brother of Governor Kapodistrias as deputy governor and the administrative, military and political authorities of the province and the city developed significant activity and settled the administrative and military organization. The 5th National Assembly in 1832 decided granting of homes and national land to approximately 500 families from Epirus and Souli. With these foundations Nafpaktos and the surrounding area came into a period of free life in the newly founded Greek State offering services to the subsequent national liberation and social fights of the Greek State.

By the decree of 31.08.1949 (Official Gazette vol. 202) Nafpaktos was characterized as a tourist city. Also with the Decision of the Ministry of Culture no.Φ 31 \ 5434 \ 3888 18/02/1973 was characterized as a historical place and place of exceptional natural beauty.

7. Rent a car on Nafpaktos

Avance rental agency, Nafpaktos: +30 210 9200100

8. Useful information about Nafpaktos

map of Nafpaktos, Greece
map of Nafpaktos, Greece

Nafpaktos is a beautiful city, built amphitheatrically on a pine filled hillside. It has 18,231 permanent residents and it is the second largest city of the Aetolia-Acarnania prefecture. It is 42km from Mesologgi and 10 km from Antirrio. Nafpaktos is a contemporary city; able to meet all its visitors yet it keeps its traditional style.

The port, with its watchtowers guarding the entrance, charms even the most demanding guests. Also its well preserved Venetian castle on the top of the hill is one of the most beautiful castles in Greece and a real gem for the city.

Nafpaktos is a city with lots of activity year round that increases during the summer. The visitor can find taverns, restaurants, cafés and bars in the city centre but also at the beaches nearby or on the hill of the castle that offers a view of the Corinthian Gulf.

Nafpaktos is ideal for summer vacations, as it has beautiful beaches within the city limits as well as within a short distance away. In these widespread crystal clear pebbly and sandy beaches visitors can find the appropriate services such as hotels, rooms to let, for a comfortable stay and seaside taverns with fresh fish. Apart from swimming, the Corinthian gulf is suitable for water sports such as water skiing, windsurf, kite surf and sailing. Refueling and mooring services are also available in the area. Specifically, Nafpaktos’ port is deep, mechanical refueling is also available, but with limited berths for mooring your boat. A large neat and deep enough port for your boat (not a sailboat) can be found at Chiliadou. In Marathia there is also a pretty but shallow port with enough empty berths. The best port in the area is the “inner port” on Trizonia Island for it is suitable for sailboats and larger boats. Night life in Nafpaktos is also exciting and offers unforgettable moments to locals and visitors. Charming, elegant and full of life bars located around the port and the surrounding streets are full of young people especially during weekends. During the summer there is rich cultural activity that includes artistic and sporting events, theatrical and musical performances that take place in the majestic castle, in Botsari Tower garden and the port pier. Interesting cultural activities are also organized in the mountain villages.

Moreover, during October several festivities and a traditional fair that lasts an entire week are organized in order to celebrate St. Dimitrios that is patron saint of the city.

Nafpaktos port, Greece
Nafpaktos port, Greece

The area of mountainous Nafpaktia is ideal for short getaways. The area is ideal and draws demanding tourists that seek various forms of alternative tourism throughout the year. For those who want to combine their vacation with a return to nature or those who enjoy a good workout during their holidays mountainous Nafpaktia is heaven on earth. Mountainous Nafpaktia can be driven across or even hiked across through beautiful trails through the woods, small canyons, streams, graphic villages and amazing flora. Your choices are unlimited in Nafpaktia as are her beauties.

Evinos River is a favorite place for those drawn to river sports; kayaking, rafting, canoeing. There are organized facilities for such sports found at least two points, Poros in Rigani and Chani Bania. The climate of Nafpaktia is considered one of the best in the country. It is temperate Mediterranean with a relatively light winter and cool summer. There is increased rainfall, short periods of summer drought and lots of sun. The average temperature of the area is 18 C.You may travel to Nafpaktos with a car or with a bus. Driving from Athens to Nafpaktos one can either follow the National Road (E94) to Korinthos and then towards Patra (E65) and Rio – Antirrio Bridge (or the ferry), that is a distance of 218 km, or alternatively one may follow the National Road (E75) towards Thebes and reach Nafpaktos through Leivadia and Galaxidi, that is a distance of 270 km.

Routes in the city

Upon arrival in Nafpaktos you can enjoy a coffee or drink at one of the charming cafés that are around the port square. The shade provided by two giant plane trees can cool you off while you enjoy the view of the small scenic Venetian port.

On the western arm of the port are two statues of heroes that serve as reminders of nautical events from the long history of this small town. The first is of the famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes (1547 – 1616) who took part in Nafpaktos’ (Lepanto) Naval Battle in 1571 at the age of 23 and lost his arm. The second, higher up in the ramparts of the port, there is the statue of Georgios Anemoyiannis (1796 – 1821) from Paxoi, who took part in a nautical attack against the Turkish ruler in May of 1821 and attempted to set a Turkish corvette on fire but that cost him his life.

Walking in the castle

Nafpaktos sites, Greece
Nafpaktos sites, Greece

Going north of the Port square you will find yourself in front of a building with impressive form, which causes the attention and interest of everyone who sees it for the first time. It is the Botsari Tower. This building was constructed in two phases within the 15th and 16th centuries. It was many times used to accommodate the city’s governor. Immediately after the city’s liberation in 1829 the building came into the Soulioti general Notis Botsaris’ ownership. Today the tower belongs to “Dimitrios and Egli Botsari Foundation” and hosts a year round exhibition of replica paintings, maps, and sketches related to Lepanto Naval Battle (1571).

Passing under the arch formed in Botsari Tower you come across “Sideroporta” a unique communication gate between the fortified district of the city and the harbour district. To the left there is a Turkish faucet built into the wall. Across the faucet, a protective wall rises supported on the main walls protecting the gate and at the same time hiding it from the side of the sea. The decoration of the gate as well as a part of the wooden double door that still exists today is very interesting.

If you continue your tour you will find yourself in the Mosque district with its small stone houses where the Soulioti militants who contributed to the liberation of the city settled after the emancipation. On the rampart of the castle’s second level the town clock was built in 1914. Further up from the clock on Souliou Street is the Tzavella family mansion. It is one of the few surviving old homes within the fort. It has two floors and rich interior design. Lately it has been fully renovated and houses the 22nd Ancient Byzantine Tax Office. At Yiannis Vlachoyiannis Square, the esplanade of the old mosque district, with the great plane tree and the stone fountain, you can see the remains of the Turkish mosque and a Turkish baths complex in relatively good condition. Continuing uphill you can either reach the higher levels of the castle or enjoy the beautiful view of the city, the Corinthian gulf and the mountains of Peloponissos from the cafés located at the end of the residential zone.

Walking in the city

Continue to the port there is Stenopazaro, the old town market where formerly traditional tavernas flourished. At the end of Stenopazaro is Agios Dimitrios church and within a short distance the City Hall. Across the City Hall it is the manor of the author Georgios Athanasiadis-Nova with its impressive gardens.

Within a short distance from the City Hall there is Papacharalambos Public Library and the County Court of Nafpaktos. The library is housed in a neoclassical building that was built in 1955 by the benefactor of the city Dimitrios Papacharalambos. It is one of the most organized public libraries of the country with over 50.000 book titles and 2 mobile libraries that visit and lend out books to schools and villages of Aetolia-Acarnania and Dorida in Fokida. It has a rich collection of editions of local interest and part of Yiannis Vlachoyiannis collection. It is a lending library and is open Monday to Saturday from 08:00 – 14:30 and Wednesday’s afternoons apart for summer months.

At Dimos Farmakis square in the city centre you will find traditional cafés and restaurants. Next to the square is a reputable private museum, the “Farmakis – 1821’s Artefacts Museum” with valuable exhibits of the liberation struggle of the Farmakis family.

Nafpaktos sightseeing, Greece
Nafpaktos sightseeing, Greece

Further up, during an excavation in Ovraiolaka district the ruins of a great old Christian royal church were found. The great dimensions of the monument led the archaeologists to believe that it was the church of the Theotokos (greek: Mother of God) which Ioannis Apokafkos, bishop of Nafpaktos mentions in his literary work (1204-1232). If this is valid, then according to the findings, the church was built in the 5th century, five-aisled with transverse possibly shut and was probably destroyed in an earthquake.

East and west of the city are 2 beaches where you can swim. The beautiful beach in the district of Psani is 1 kilometer long with great plane trees and luxurious stores. This beautiful beach has been many times awarded with blue flags by the E.U. During the summer months it is literally flooded by vacationers who enjoy the beach and water by day and a cool walk on the beachside road by night. At Gribovo beach one can enjoy the shade and dew of the perennial plane trees but also can find modern hotels, cafés and restaurants that attract thousands of tourists mainly in the summer months.

On the small hill that is across from the Kefavryso square there is a small opening where there are illegible ancient Greek plaques. This is the point where it is believed that Asklipios’ altar was abandoned since the ancient times when Pafsanias passed through Nafpaktos. Further east, at the top of the pine filled hill is the beautiful church of Saint George.

In Dendro district there is the Gorgopikoou Monastery, founded in 1951 by Archimandrite Arsenius Koumpougia. This is a real den with important social and religious work. Currently 12 nuns are serving the monastery.