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Greece: Rare Crayfish in Cave

(ATHENS NEWS AGENDA) A rare stone crayfish was found in the Cave of Aggiti’s River – also known as Maara Cave- at the southern foot of Mt Falakros in Drama prefecture. Belonging to “Austropotamobius torrentium” species, this rare crayfish is unusually transparent and has a translucent light blue colour. A team of Greek and French speleologists have actually succeeded in discovering some 25 such specimens at a depth of 2,100-7,100 metres from the surface of Aggitis Cave. This cave-dwelling species is unique in the world and it can possibly form a new variety. Aggitis Cave has been explored – for the first time in 1978 – to a depth of 2.5 km though only the first 500 meters are accessible to the public, while it is estimated that its total length reaches 12km. It is noteworthy that inside the cave there is evidence of human habitation dating back to 3000 B.C. and the fortifications near the entrance are from the 6th century A.D. Hellenic Federation of Speleology: www.fhs.gr 

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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.

Athens: Revamped Monastiraki Square

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Athens residents as well as tourists can finally enjoy in full the newly refurbished Monastiraki square, at the heart of classical Athens. The square – at the foothill of the Acropolis, an intersection between the capital’s ancient heritage and its modern shopping centre which is always extremely popular with tourists – has undergone a thorough facelift that allows visitors to view, among other things, the bed of the ancient Eridanos (or Iridanos) River, while walking over a glass cover. Attiko Metro: Archaeological Excavations per Station

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)

Greece: Ancient Meets Contemporary

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Work on excavating ancient Pellina in Thessaly has begun and is continuing at a rapid pace, local authorities said on July 28, in a project that ultimately aims to create an archaeological park with various educational, recreational and sports facilities around the ancient site. The immediate goal is to clean and display the ancient wall, and to calculate its course. Ancient Pellina or Pellinaion was situated on the left bank of the Peneus River in western Thessaly, between Trikki and Farkadona. The first ancient reference to the city that survives was in Pindar, who cited it as the home of the athlete Ippocles, who won a race in the Pythia Games held in 498 B.C. Ancient accounts and architectural remains yield information about the city mostly during and after the 4th century B.C. Athens News Agency: Ancient Pellina archaeological park; Region of Thessalia: www.thessalia-region.com  (Photo: Peneus River )

Take to the Greek Montains

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Picturesque and culturally fascinating, the mountainous areas offer a wealth of exceptional trekking amongst impressive peaks. Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, at 2919 meters high, located 100 km southwest of the city of Thessaloniki in northern Greece. In Greek mythology, Mt Olympus was the abode of the Twelve Olympians. From its steep rocky summit, the site of his throne, Zeus supposedly hurled his thunderbolts against humankind. Greece’s oldest and most carefully protected national park, Mt Olympus also boasts the greatest concentration of flora and fauna, huge expanses of forest, and the crystal clear waters of the Enippeas river. The Pindos Mountains, situated in the northwest corner of Greece, are a rugged and remote region of peaks, high limestone cliffs, spectacular gorges, and rushing rivers. Visit Zagorochoria, a world of walled villages perched atop and within the thousand-foot gorge of the Vikos River, the deepest one in the world after the Grand Canyon in Arizona.