Trail 1 | Neda – Abeliona – Epicurius Apollon
|10,1 Km||3h 25′||2/5|
Starting Point: Neda
Ending Point: Temple of Epicurius Apollo
Main Sights: Abeliona, Stavrouli, Sklirou
Connected to: Trail 2 | Abeliona – Neda Springs – Neda, Trail 3 | Abeliona – Agios Sostis – Neda
The trail starts from the village of Neda – called Berekla in older times. The first part downhill is covered by large yew trees; older residents used to benefit from their shade to make their route easier, especially during the summer months. At the end of the downhill road, there is the stone-built bridge of Berekla.
After crossing under the modern cement bridge, you find yourself in a totally different environment dominated by plane trees. You are walking along the stream’s running water and under full shade, and after a while, you reach the spring of Tritseli, where you meet APOLLO TRAIL 2, and you continue till Abeliona’s square. Abeliona owes its name to the vineyards (abelia or ambelia) cultivated here in the past. Today, this plantation is very scarce though.
Leaving Abeliona behind, the trail enters a very dense chestnut woods. There is a pleasant route uphill, under dense shade almost all year long. When coming out of the woods, there is a majestic view to Mount Lykaion and Mount Tetrazi, which enclose the region. The trail’s highest peak lies at Stavrouli, where you can choose to either visit the church of Saint Iakovos, called Agianakovos by locals, the spring of Filiatro, or the mountain top of Vigla (APOLL TRAIL 1A).
The trail crosses a small plateau, among aged oak trees, where you can see countless dry-stone walls and many threshing floors, proof of the everyday effort of local residents in the past to benefit from every yard of soil for plantation. From Pontika, the trail continues downhill till the village of Sklirou. You can either reach the village through a dust road or a stream covered by plane trees. In Sklirou, you can see the statue of Nicolaos Bozinakis, a local chief of the Greek Independence War. From there a broad, good paved path will lead you to the Temple of Apollo Epicurius.
The Temple of Apollo Epicurius
This is the masterpiece of architect Iktinos. It is nowadays covered a specially designed sunshade tent to make it cope with the pressure of the wind and the snow load. It will be covered for protection for as long as the conservation works go on. Built with local limestone, the temple is marvelously integrated in the surrounding majestic landscape, despite the fact that the tent partially destroys that feeling. Famous during the Antique Era for its architectural beauty and characteristics, as well as for the magical spot that the residents of ancient Figalia chose to build it. The marble carvings of the temple, with depictions of the battles of Amazons and Centaurs, is considered a piece by sculptor Peonius, nowadays exhibited at the British Museum. Plaster copies of the 23 relief marble plaques can be admired at the Library of the village of Andritsaina.
The aged chestnut trees
The chestnut woods of Abeliona counts among the largest and oldest woods of the Peloponnese. The hiker walks among the aged chestnuts, with tree trunks craggy from the snow. The oldest among those, many centuries old, cause a feeling of awe due to their huge trunks and their persistent vitality. The chestnut woods, a significant source helping the villagers make a living, is an important bio reserve with many rare plant species. With a varying density, it calls out the visitor to leave the path, and explore the woods. Do not attempt that, if you are not accompanied by a local that knows his way around. Following the chestnuts, there come the oak trees. The aged oak trees, the threshing floors, the old plantations with the dry-stone walls, the great light, the remote sounds of bells from some herd of goats and sheep, all together provide to the place that tranquil roughness that is inherent to the arcadian landscape. The place causes to the visitor an irresistible charm – the closest to the romantic utopia of the euphoric Arcadia.
The fountain of Tritseli
The trail from the bridge of Berekla till the village of Abeliona is of utmost interest, running next to the river with the gurgling water, under huge plane trees. You will sit in the shade of the plane tree, enjoy the “music” of the gurgling water and admire, among the others, the impressive burdocks, an aquatic herbaceous plant inherent to this region, with leaves tall and huge like umbrellas.
Trail 1A | Stavrouli – Vigla
Starting Point: Stavrouli
Ending Point: Vigla
Main Sights: –
Connected to: –
The trail starts at Stavrouli and ends at the mountain top of Pano Vigla, at an altitude of 1,160m. This is an old footpath used in the past by owners of the surrounding farms. It offers an astonishing view. The footpath reaches at the mountain ridge and continues through aged oak trees, till the mountain top of Pano Vigla. There you can see the remainders of an old smoke sign construction, proof of the participation of local villages at the Greek Independence War.