romantic destinations of the Greek hinterland. To top off their natural beauty, there is their important history and the easy and quick access from Athens. In other words, they are an absolute favourite for an autumn escape that will remain etched in our mind.
Nafpaktos: a jewel of a town
Built between Antirrio and the mouth of the river Mornos, Nafpaktos is the most beautiful town of the district of Aitoloakarnania. Its idyllic beaches face the Corinthian gulf; its mountain attractiveness encompasses Nafpaktia; its rich history is reflected on two fabulous monuments, the Venetian castle and the Venetian port.
The first things that strike visitors in Nafpaktos are its
comfortable plane-shaded roads, its traditional buildings, and its
people of all ages enjoying the sun in open air restaurants and cafés,
often by the sea. Start strolling around the cobbled streets with the naval houses and the well-preserved mansions. Bougainvilleas climb on the stone walls and flowers fill the neighbourhoods with welcoming colours and aromas.
All the streets lead to the port, the smallest and, maybe,
most beautiful in the Mediterranean Sea! At the eastern tower there is
the old lighthouse and the Fethiye Tzami (mosque) of 1499. The built-in
marble plaque reminds us of the famous sea battle of 1571. At the
western part and next to the cannons targeting the sea, there are the
statues of the legendary captain Giorgos Anemogiannis and of the famous
Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. The delicious teasers on the
pedestrian walkway of Stenopazaro, right at the place where the
old market and the small tavernas used to be, provide the perfect excuse
for a long or brief stop.
Strong again and no more hungry, you can climb up the castle,
one of the best preserved castles in five landings, whose story dates
back in the Ancient times. The Venetians used to call its top “the triple tiara of Lepanto”.
Stand there to marvel at the imposing view of the town and the port,
dominated by the cable Rio-Antirrio bridge on the horizon. Your
attention will also be drawn by the chapel of Profitis Elias (11th century) the tower clock, as well as the remnants of the ottoman bath.
Leave Nafpaktos at night, when its lights will be flickering on the
quiet waters. Say goodbye to the beautiful town, but not to a great
travel experience yet.
Through the stunning mountainous landscapes of Fokida
one reaches a town with a feel of posh, tradition, and naval history:
the picturesque pride and joy of the southern coasts of central Greece,
i.e. Galaxidi. Brave seamen used to sail around the Mediterranean Sea to seek refuge in the two natural ports of the little town, Agora and Chirolakas. The naval and the folklore museums bear witness to the history of Galaxidi.
Captains’ mansions and cobbled narrow streets call for and guarantee a
relaxing stroll. Traditional architectural elements conjure up
narrations of the old times: colourful facades, marble arches around the
gates, yards with flowers and pebbles, and stone balconies decorated
with figureheads. The town hall, housed in the Tsalaggyras mansion, the
Folk Art Museum, housed in Aggelis mansion, the Girls’ School, and the
Mpourzeiko mansion, are some of the best preserved old buildings. As for
ancient monuments, you will find them at the park of the town:
the tomb of king Locros and the remnants of the walls of ancient
Oianthi. Through the five traditional squares, you will get to the
highest point in town to visit the church of Agios Nikolaos
with its wood-carved icon screen, its two bell towers and its imposing
dome. It is one of the prominent religious spots of Galaxidi, with the
church of Agia Paraskevi being the other. Visit it to marvel at the sun clock in its yard and the zodiac circle drawn on its floor of 1911.
On the right side of the port, visit the verdant area of Pera Panta, take in the panorama of the little town, and blow your camera with photos! Walking in nature will whet your appetite for seafood.
The nearby Oianthi beach is densely inhabited by restaurants. Among the
local specialties, don’t miss ravani, a kind of syrup cake.
The locals urge us to return at Carnival and to experience the traditional Dionysian custom of “alevromoutzouromata”, i.e. pelting one another with coloured flour, on Clean Monday.
Keep in mind that one of the greatest assets of the little town is its proximity to the unique archaeological site of Delphi.