Two lakes, very close to one another, but completely different. On the one hand you have minuscule Doxa lake, nested in the fir trees; on the other you have Stymphalia with its endless reed beds. Between them you have Mount Ziria and the Feneos Valley. Contrasting images on a route that, if taken from Trikala Corinthias, is about 60 kilometers in length. This may not seem like a lot, but the time this will take depends on many factors. First, you will find quite a bit of traffic in Trikala on the weekend; then you need to take the serpentine roads into consideration, as well as the snowfall, which can make the crossing between Feneos and Stymphalia a challenge. Nevertheless, you should pray for light snowfall as the images you will enjoy on the lakes are simply magical.
Leaving behind the touristy areas of Trikala and Karya, it is worth taking a detour towards Tarsos and the Panaghia tou Vrahou (Virgin of the Rock), a lovely location that reminds one of Meteora (it is no coincidence that there is a climbing field here), with the cave-like chapel nestled in the cliffs. Feneos village is located a bit further along, where Efharis Filoxenon guesthouse organizes a plethora of nature-loving activities in the area, and at Doxa in particular. The lake was formed in 1966 following the construction of the dam that controlled the waters of the Doxa river. The road around it measures 5 kilometers in length, most of which passes close to the water. The absolute silence, interrupted only by the sound of the birds chirping, will take your breath away. In the middle of the lake, on a strip of land, is located the chapel of Aghios Fanourios, with the ruins of Paliomonastirou nearby. For a special experience in the forest, take a horseback riding experience with the Patsios family (Tel. (+30) 6988.619.915).
Do not miss out on a visit to Goura village, the most developed and beautiful in the area, with its old aristocratic dwellings and a lovely main square, home to the Taxiarchon church.
You then should take a tour of the Feneos Valley or, even better, take the uphill road to Symphalia and gaze at the view from above. The lake that was located here, at an altitude of 700-800 meters, was dried up to make way for 200,000 square meters of arable land where pulses and the famed PDO “vanilla beans” of Feneos, as well as the PDO fava (yellow split peas) and lentils are cultivated. After reaching the mountain village of Kastania, follow the road downhill to Stymphalia. The lake is not easily accessible due to the thick reed beds, especially on the northern side where you will probably have trouble trying to spot it at all. Yet on this side you will also find the ruins of Zaraka Monastery and ancient Stymphalia, as well as the Stymphalia Environment Museum of the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation. Starting from Lafka village, take a drive around the lake – the quiet, the birds suddenly appearing in the middle of nowhere, the thick winter fog between the enchanting reed beds and villages.
Do not miss
The Stymphalia Environment Museum hosts an interesting permanent exhibition that explains the development of Lake Stymphalia and the area over the course of the centuries, from the Middle Palaeolithic Period to the present day. The value of the wetlands is also presented, as well as the fascinating occupations of the people who live and work by the lake. From here you will also admire a lovely perspective of the lake and use the special equipment to observe the birds and reed beds. piop.gr
The well-kept Monastery of Aghios Georgios, also known as “tou Fonia”, was built in the 14th century and boasts incredible views of Doxa lake. In the interior you can visit the space where they say the “krifo scholio” operated (an underground school for teaching the Greek language and Christian doctrine during the Ottoman occupation), but mainly for its impressive gilt templon (icon screen) dating from 1762. The monks will welcome you and offer you a taste of the famed rose preserve dessert, which they have been making themselves for decades.
Take a 12-kilometer detour from Trikala to Ziria Ski Resort, at an altitude of 1500 meters, to flex your skiing skills as it is ideal for novices, featuring 2 slopes and 2 ski lifts, snow sleighs and a chalet. Alternatively, if you are familiar with snow it is also worth hiking to the refuge – the snowy landscape under the summit peaks is a magical setting.