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Arcadia: A “must” to see in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    The trip to Arcadia in central Peloponnese reveals historical, religious, and environmental beauties little known. Some of these beauties are the gorges of Loussios River, as well as the nearby historic cities Dimitsana and Karitaina.   The rare variety of fauna and flora but also the landscape’s serene life -due to the difficulty of access- made it possible for monastic life to flourish over the centuries.   Monasteries clinging on Loussios rocks and the numerous shrines, chapels and churches, are impressive monuments of the life of Orthodox monks. The best known monastery is the Philosophou, founded in 963 AD.  The monastery served as “a secret school” during the Ottoman rule, to preserve the Greek language and Orthodox faith. Inside the monastery lie frescoes from the 17th century and precious icons. Prodromou monastery, probably founded in the 16th century, is currently the largest monastery with some 14 monks. Almost invisible, literally hanging from the wall of rock, it was used as hospital during the Greek War of Independence.  Loussios River and its many streams have been the source of the prosperity in the region during the 18th century, when economic activity revolved around water. The water mills were used, inter alia, to produce gun powder, fuelling Greece’s independence war in 1821. The city of Dimitsana nowadays hosts an open-air hydraulics museum, which reproduces the activity of the old water mills.

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Greece: Winter Destinations

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Breathtaking cliffs and mountains, rugged scenery, lakes, picturesque villages, and traditional architecture make central Greece one of the most beautiful regions in the country, offering outdoor enthusiasts plenty of opportunities for rock climbing and hiking, mountain skiing, kayaking, rafting, biking as well as cave exploration.  Evrytania, at the southern end of the Pindos mountain range, being dubbed “Greece’s Switzerland” is a very popular destination during the winter months. One can visit the Velouchi skiing centre at an elevation of 1,800 meters, the Mikro and Megalo Horio, two well-known villages, Proussos village, best known for its old monastery with the famous icon of Our Lady of Proussos and the Koryschades settlement which hosted the elected National Assembly, in May 1944, during the German occupation. AthensPlus: The ultimate winter destination  (p.42)  Meteora (meaning “suspended in the air”) in the region of Thessaly, is known for the complex of 24 monasteries on the top of impressive rock towers, a strange but breathtaking landscape that has been sculpted by wind and water over thousands of years. These smooth, vertical rocks have become a favourite destination for rock climbers who can truly appreciate the feat of the 9th century hermits who first climbed them to settle in the caves and fissures of the rocks. The site is included in the UNESCO World Heritage listTrikala, at the foothills of Mt Koziakas, on the eastern side of the Pindos mountain range, is a mostly pedestrian’s town on the banks of river Lithaios. One of the highlights of the town is the 16th century Kursum mosque, a protected UNESCO Heritage site, now used as an exhibition hall. Mt Koziakas and Acheloos river are part of the European Natura 2000 network of protected natural habitats.AthensPlus – Trikala, halfway to heaven  (p.42)