“The ocean of Aetolia”
A rippling blue half-moon lies in the heart of Aetoloakarnania. During the winter, when the wind blows, large waves rise to the sky over the royal sea. Seemingly borderless, its surface stretches into the horizon.
The lake was probably named after the ancient city, Trichonio, which is located beside the lake, near the village Gavalow.
From discoveries that came to light, we can assume that millions of years ago, between the mountain of Aetolia and Akarnania, in the Aetolian plain, took shape an enormous lake into which flowed the river Acheloos. The river then continued its journey south through the narrow pass of Klissoura and finally reached Aetoliko bay.
Over the centuries, after geological changes, the river Acheloos changed course and the huge lake was separated into three smaller lakes, the lake Trichonida, the lake Lysimachia and the lake Ozeros. The narrow passes of Klissoura dried up and evolved into the exceptionally beautiful gorge that we see today.
The lake Trichonida, with maximum depth 58 metres and a circumference of 51klms, is the largest lake in Greece. Trichonida is wet land of huge ecological and commercial importance as well as being a favourite place for sight sears because of it’s great beauty.
The lake’s water is enriched by under-water springs and also rainwater that flows down the mountainsides. The surplus of the lake’s water is diverted into the lake Lysimachia, which in turn leads to the Dimikos river and finally to the river Acheloos.
Because of the abundance of water in this region, people over the years have used the many watermills for grinding a variety of grains. They were also able to launder rugs, carpets, blankets etc.
The water is so naturally clean, that two Municipalities, on the south bank use the lake water for everyday domestic uses including drinking.
On the west bank, an artificial channel connects the two lakes, Trichonida and Lysimachia.
Up to the beginning of the 20th century, between the two lakes it was marchland, which flooded during the winter, then the two lakes would join and appear as one, «The lake of Apokouro» as called by the locals.
In 1773 the Turkish ruler “Alabeys” as called by the locals, decided to connect the two lakes with a unique architectural construction called Alabey’s famous bridges; it consisted of 360 arches and wide enough to carry two coaches. This marvelous monument was unfortunately destroyed.
The wildlife found in this region refers to a great variety of fauna and flora that gives an exclusive natural beauty.
Two hundred species of birds have been found in this region, of which fifty of them are very rare and endangered.
One of the most important residents of the area is the Otter, a mammal of great beauty.
Twenty five species of fish live here. Some of these species are endemic to Greece and others to the lake, they can not be found anywhere else in the world. Also exclusive to the lake are one of the smallest vertebrate animals of the planet, the Economidichtys trichonis (in Greek: Nanogovios)
Atherina boyeri, a natural habitat of the sea but also found in the fresh water of Trichonida. This fish is harvested by local fishermen and exported to the Athenian fish-market, bringing great commercial value to the people of Trichonida.
Some of the most rare and endangered ecosystems of the Mediterranean basin are found in this region.
The most important feature of the lake is its Calcareous Bog Fens (C.B.F.), which are protected as “priority sites” by the European Union. C.B.F. appear in the shallow parts of the lake, usually near the shore.
Understandably scientists keep careful visual to ensure its prolonged existence for the future generations.
A tour of the lake,
An unforgettable experience!!!
The region around Trichonida is studded with dozens of important archaeological artifacts, including ancient Greek temples and spas, byzantine and meta- byzantine monuments, monasteries and churches, and is well worth exploring.
The numerous villages that surround the lake give the visitor the opportunity to explore the natural beauties of the area taking in the un-spoilt modern-day Greek country life. Also many antiquities, amidst the lake and olive, lemon and orange groves can be seen. There are many traditional, stone-work houses that you will admire.
SHORT TOUR: Coming off the National Road you will come to Panetolio, which is 6klms west from Agrinio, the largest urban and commercial centre.
Christos Kapralos, the famous sculptor was born in Panetolio and proudly displays his sculpture of “Mother” in the square.
To the east of Panetolio is the small, traditional fishing port of Abaria. Abaria is also home of the old pump-house of Panetolio, renovated by EC programme LIFE-NATURE 1999, in order to protect the C.B.F. and now houses the Trichonida Environmental Centre (KE.PE.TRI.)
Continuing our course we soon reach the village Kenourgio. To the north of the village, built on a high rise, stands the Acropolis of the Thestieis, named after the mythical king Thestios.
The Acropolis is naturally fortified, standing on the highest rise of the mountain top of Arakynthos and Panetoliko. Here you will also see the byzantine monastery of Vlochos. There are many ancient sacred and Christian monumen
A few kilometers east of Kenourgio is the village Paravola, which stands on the ground where once the ancient aetolic city Voukatio was. On a peak are the ruins of the Acropolis of Voukatio. Next to this stands the byzantine church of the Madonna of the Castle.
To the south of Paravola we can take the lakeside road and enjoy a ride through plane-trees, lemon and orange trees. On the way we meet the communities of Dogri, Varia and Myrtia. Just before entering Myrtia we come across the monastery of Myrtia, which contains religious artwork from the 12th to the 18th century.
The village Myrtia was separated into two communities, the main one along the road and Gouritsa (Slavic name), which is built along the lakeside. This area is surrounded by an assortment of olive and orange trees. From Gouritsa we travel through picturesque countryside we come to Myrtia’s spa and the abandoned monastery of Fotmou, built in 1559.
Returning to the village Myrtia and turning off the lakeside, on the road towards Thermo, we soon reach the village of Agia Sophia.
Here a stream flows through the thick plane-trees and an old watermill still works. On the east side of the village you will find the Taxiarchon and St. Nicolas churches, built in the 13thand 14th centuries.
Traveling north and climbing to the height of 360 meters above Trichonida, we arrive at the village Thermo, which in ancient times was named “Acropolis of all Aetolia”. Thermo was the capital of the Aetolian Confederacy, perhaps the most advanced democratic constitution ever created by the Greeks.
The ruins that have been recovered in the village’s archaeological site include a meeting house, the temple of Apollo, two smaller temples and an ancient market. There is also an archeological museum on site.
Three kilometers north of Thermo is the village Mega Dendro, birthplace of Kosmas o Aetolos and Evagellos Gianoulis, the revolutionary head figure of the Greek uprising of 1821. The foundations of the Greek saint, Kosmas o Aetolos, still stand today.
To the southeast of Thermo is the village Petrohori, famous for its wine, with the trade name «Malagouzia».South of Petrohori, in the plains of Trichonida, we find the villages Sitaralona, Pamfio, Marathia and Kato Makrinou. The drive through this area is truly magical and the view is stunning.
Continuing our tour of the circumference of the lake, we now enter the farming communities, on the southern part of Trichonida, on the long, fertile plain that stretches between the base of Mt. Arakynthos and the shores of the lake. The Makrinou-Zeugaraki road crosses the plain. In the village Gavalou the sacred site of Asklipios was recently discovered.
Here is where ancient Trichonio prospered. On Trichonio’s lakeside you can visit the beautiful forest called Nerofraxon. Finally we reach Zevgaraki and our tour ends.
The natural and cultural wealth of this region can not be described with words.
It is well worth visiting the Aetolic lands. Discover the beauties of both, Lake Trichonida and Lake Lysimachia.
Magical and unexplored, full of colors and singular beauty, the lake Trichonida invites you to explore it.