Discover the mountainous Lefkada

The mountainous part of the island is a beautiful area surrounded by mountains with small and large plains between them, such as Livadi (Prairie) and the plateau of Agios Donatos. The torrents that spring from the mountaintops form canyons that are natural monuments due to their wild beauty.

Here you can see the wonderful changes of scenery, especially in the springtime and in autumn, with dozens of colours, small and large traditional settlements and scattered remains of the past that tend to become one with the natural landscape.

The flora of the region includes rare wildflowers, aromatic herbs, many species of trees and can be an amazing observation field for the nature lovers.

At the central part of the island there are some of the oldest settlements.

Karya is the larger village. It follows the pace of tourist development without betraying its traditions and offers many choices for accommodation, food and leisure.

The village’s churches and museums are worth your attention. Many cultural events are organised there (the Traditional Rural Wedding, the Night of “Riganada”, Carnival events, dance activities etc)

Karya is also known for the famous knitting technique of Karya which the knitters use to create real pieces of art. At the Prairie, the farmers cultivate “lathiria” (horse beans) which are very nutritional pulses.

A little higher there is the abandoned settlement of Rekatsinata that is worth visiting.

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The villages of Sfakiotes, Spanohori, Kavalos, Lazarata, Asprogerakata, Pinakohori are very charming, with an intense traditional character, noteworthy religious monuments, beautiful squares and a growing tourist interest. The national poet, Aristotelis Valaoritis places here the origin of his hero, Foteinos, in his homonymous poem that describes the farmers’ riot against the Venetian conquerors in 1357. The walks in the small streets of the villages are wonderful experiences. In these streets there are many alternatives for lodging, food and relaxation. At Kavalos there is a Folklore Museum while this is also the starting point of the famous canyon of Melissa.

Pigadisani, the place of origin of the soprano Agnes Baltsa, is a gorgeous village that gazes at the Prairie from above. It has picturesque churches, an old Venetian bridge and an amazing view of the east.

Alexandros and Kolyvata, two old traditional settlements with notable religious monuments, an active club that organises special cultural events mostly during the summer months and rare flora, are located on the western edges of the divine Mount Skari.

Platystoma and Vafkeri are also traditional, green-clad villages with important religious monuments. At Platystoma you have to visit the café-museum and at Vafkeri you should enjoy the food at the village’s square.

Finally, Egklouvi, the most mountainous village of the region, is famous for its lentils that are cultivated at the plateau of Agios Donatos. At its square you can enjoy coffee or food. At the plateau of Agios Donatos the Feast of Lentils is organised every August. Around the small chapel you can find the Volti, unique old stone huts for agricultural use. From the small church of Agios Ilias, which is located a little bit higher, you will enjoy the amazing view of the eastern part of the island.

Sights and attractions of the mountainous Lefkada

The monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos at the Prairie of Karya: It was founded in 1605, although there is some evidence that it may be even older. In the centre of the temple there is the grave of the Acarnanian warlord Simon Mpouas Grivas who had been its benefactor. It was one of the richest monasteries on the island. Nowadays it is being renovated and manned in order to open once more.

The old monastery of Kokkini Ekklisia (Red Church) at Platystoma: It was founded in 1478. Its name came from the red clay that was used for its building. It was very rich with a large land property and estates outside its premises. It was abandoned during the first decades of the 20th century.

The old monastery of Agios Georgios on Mount Skari at the settlement Kolyvata: It was founded in 1611 and it used to own the whole forest of Mount Skari. Many of its wall paintings are still preserved. It was a very rich monastery.

The old monastery of Asomatos Mihail at Vafkeri: A monastery of the 16th century, one of the richest of the time. It was fully covered with paintings and some of the frescos are still preserved. It is located south of the village within the forest.

The small chapel of Agios Donatos at the homonymous plateau of Karya: It was built in 1921 and became the continuation of an older, today ruined temple dedicated to the Saviour Christ, where the farmers had started treating lentils to their guests. Nowadays, the Feast of Lentils takes place around this small chapel. και αποτέλεσε τη συνέχεια παλαιότερου.

The chapel of Agios Ilias on a hill above Egklouvi: It is a small church of the 17th century, built upon a privileged high ground in terms of view, on the top of the homonymous hill above Egklouvi. From there you can see the whole north-eastern side of the island and the coast across the sea.

The chapel of Profitis Ilias and the small temple of Agios Stefanos, inside a cave at Spanohori: It was built during the years of the Ottoman Rule on the island and functioned also as a monastery with great land property. Agios Stefanos is said to have been one of the Holy Fathers who lived as monks in the cave. The cavern church is linked with many legends and fairytales.

The old parish churches of all the villages with their beautiful bell towers.

The churches of Agios Andreas and Agios Antonios at the abandoned settlement of Rekatsinata: Temples of the 19th century. Agios Andreas is located just outside the settlement and Agios Antonios among the ruins of the houses.

The Folklore Museum of Lefkadian Knitworks of Maria Koutsohero at Karya: It is dedicated to Maria Koutsohero (Limp-handed) who invented the knitting technique of Karya and made it famous all over Greece. It hosts various folkloric exhibits that cover all aspects of the rural household.

The Folklore Museum of the Music and Literature Cub “Apollon” at Karya: It was founded in 2012. It is housed in the Elementary School of Karya and hosts a great collection of traditional costumes from all over Greece but also more exhibits concerning folklore and tradition.

The Phonograph, Gramophone and Radiophone Museum at Karya: It was founded in 2015 by the collector Hristos Vlahos and hosts a great number of gramophones, radiophones, jukeboxes, rare music records of 33 and 45 rpm etc.

The Kontomihio Folklore Museum of Sfakiotes at Kavalos: It was founded in 2004 and is housed in the building of the Elementary School at Kavalos. The exhibits come from donations and the museum is dedicated to the great folklorist of Lefkada, Pantazis Kontomihis.

The Folklore museum-café at Platystoma: The village’s café that is located in an old olive mill has been modified by its owners into a small folklore museum. You can drink your coffee among everyday items from a different era.

The remains of the old NATO military base at the plateau of Agios Donatos: It was built in 1962 to facilitate the telecommunications between the NATO bases in Greece and Italy. It was considered very modern for its time. The base was abandoned in the beginning of the 90s.

The “Volti” at the plateau of Agios Donatos: There is a settlement that consists of a rare kind of arched huts that were used by the residents of Egklouvi during their agricultural activities. There are more than more than 150 “volti” at the plateau and there constructions dates back to the 19th century.

The canyon of Melissa: It is a dreamlike route along the torrent, with a well shaped path, among the ruins of small settlements and watermills.

The square with the Turkish wells at the site of Fryas in Asprogerakata: At a beautiful square with plane trees you can see the old wells that used to serve the needs of the surrounding villages.

Activities in the mountainous Lefkada

The Traditional Rural Wedding: It is a three-day event in Karya that takes place every August. The Re-enactment of the traditional wedding as it was performed in the villages with all formalities and customs. It is organised as a part of the Literature and Arts Festival of Lefkada.

Feast of Lentils at the plateau of Agios Donatos on the 6th of August: The cultural club of Egklouvi honours the famous agricultural product of the plateau and treats the guests, following the old tradition that started many years ago, when the housewives of Egklouvi began to offer lentils to the worshippers who went to the church on the celebration day of the Savour Christ.

Feast of “Riganada” at Karya in August: This simple yet delicious traditional snack of Lefkada is really popular. Bread, olive oil, tomato and oregano from the land of Lefkada are offered to the guests and are proof that simplicity and pureness can beat any gourmet recipe.

Wine Festival at Pigadisani: Wine has always been one of the main agricultural products of the island and the new production is honoured every year at the beautiful village of Pigadisani.

Traditional feasts at Platystoma and Vafkeri: On the name day of the protector saints of the villages. Furthermore, the local cultural clubs organise many cultural and other events all year long.

Trekking routes on the paths of Karya and the surrounding areas: The landscape of the mountainous part of Lefkada creates natural pathways that used to facilitate the transportation of the villagers. Nowadays, the paths are being rediscovered, cleaned, signed and offer the possibility to the guest to find out a different aspect of the island. For example, we can mention the path that leads from there to the plateau of Agios Donatos, the path of Mount Skari, the path along the canyon of Melissa etc.

Mountain biking: It is an exciting sport that can be performed on the pathways of central Lefkada. The changes of the landscape and the differences in elevation offer amazing experiences to the cyclists. This is the area where a mountain biking race was organised, with great success, through country and forest roads, old paths and small streets within the villages.

Mountain running races: The first Lefkas Trail Run was organised in October 2014 by the Business Association of Nikiana and the Filandros Sports Club. The athletes can choose from a variety of distances and enjoy the specially paved pathways on Mount Skari, up to the villages of Kolyvata and Alexandros, Kokkini Ekklisia (Red Church) etc.

It is a very important event, not just as a sport activity, but also as a way to further promote and protect the rare oak forest of Mount Skari.

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