Swings, hammocks, tree houses, a trampoline and wooden bridges with slats that are painted to like piano keys and actually make music when you step on them are just some of what you’ll find in the recreational park created by youths and locals of the village of Pavliani in Fthiotida in central Greece, at the source of the Asopos River. The Pavliani Cultural Association is responsible for the park’s maintenance and upkeep, as well as for enriching it with new features.
Taking the circular path through the park allows visitors to see and enjoy all of its features: from the waterfalls, tree houses and tree swings to the trampoline, the zip line across a small stream, and the iron throne inspired by the hit fantasy series Game of Thrones, placed to afford a regal view out over the foothills of Mount Oiti. Walking among the plane trees and the towering firs is easy – the only uphill bit is the ascent to the iron throne – allowing you to enjoy the landscape at a leisurely pace.
For great views, stop at either the summit known as Misoracho or at the spot marked by a log cabin and known as Zeus’ Throne. The park also has lots of picnic areas with wooden picnic tables set out in different clearings, where you can enjoy a snack brought from home under the shade of the trees – just make sure to clean up after yourself!
The peak called Pyra (Pyre) is where mighty Heracles writhed in pain from the venom-soaked garment Deianeira, his wife, had given him. According to the myth, the pain was so great that the hero entreated Philoctetes to light a bonfire and he threw himself in the flames to end his suffering. Unable to watch his son in so much agony, Zeus cast a bolt of lighting to the ground, bringing forth the river known as Gorgopotamos, which cooled down and saved the burning Heracles.
Who’s it for?
The trail is ideal for the entire family. It’s easy enough for novice trekkers and is suitable for young children as well.
There’s another circular trail that runs from the village of Pavliani, up through the fir forest to Heracles’ Pyre and back. It’s a bit more demanding as it takes you from an elevation of 985 meters all the way to 1628m, and it’s 14 kilometers long. You could also make a small detour to visit Katavothra Cave. Another interesting route from Pavliani takes you through the settlement of Kouvelos and to the Asopos railway station. You’ll find many trails starting from the Oiti Refuge, which sits 8km southwest of Pavliani. Among the great spots that these trails take you are the peaks of Pyrgos (2152m), Greveno (2114m) and Alykaina (2052m).
Follow the signposts from the park’s entrance, located between Ano (Upper) and Kato (Lower) Lavilani. At the crossroad, take the left to Aghia Triada instead of the right to Pavliani to reach the trail that takes you to Zeus’ Throne on Misoracho Peak and circles back to the park’s main path. The total distance is around 6km and it takes no more than two hours at a leisurely pace, with stops.