By Kostis Geropoulos/New Europe.
TRIKALA, Corinthia – Greece is a country full of myths and legends. On the beautiful Mt. Ziria, in a cave by Dasios Lake, the Nymph Maia – one of the “Seven Sisters along with Electra, Taygete, Alcyone, Celaena, Sterope, Merope – gave birth to the Greek god Hermes.
“The myth says that Zeus slept with Maia and Hermes was born — the conductor of souls into the afterlife and the protector of shepherds at the Cave of Hermes,” Litsa Varvitsioti, the President of the Friends of Trikala Association, told New Europe, pointing at the 2,400 metre Mt. Ziria, just west of the Flabouritsa Valley on the Peloponnese Peninsula.
“Hermes was a trickster; the most cunning of the gods and according to our mythology, he went to Pieria in Macedonia and stole Apollo’s cattle. He stole them in a particular way, by pulling them from their tails out of the stable so you couldn’t see the direction of the footprints. Apollo complained to his father, Zeus, to punish Hermes. On the way back from Pieria, Hermes found a tortoise. Using the intestines from a cow stolen from Apollo and a hollow tortoise shell, he invented the lyre, which he gave to Apollo and appeased Zeus, who decided not punish Hermes,” Varvitsioti said.
Ziria features prominently in the landscape, including breathtaking views from the Pleiades Earth Mountain Resort & Spa (Pliadon Gi). Pleiades took its name from one of the daughters of Atlas and Pleioni, who was also born on the strikingly arid and hauntingly beautiful slopes of the mountain.
According to the myth, Orion fell madly in love with both Atlas and Pleioni and wanted to keep them for himself. The Seven Sisters asked for Zeus’ and in order to save them, he transformed Atlas and Pleioni into stars. Orion has pursued them in the night sky ever since but they are always two steps ahead of him and fall into the sea every night so they can escape.
Back at the hotel whose gorgeous stone masonry and wooden balconies give the buildings the feeling of traditional stone structures and where the aromatic smell of embers burning in the fireplaces perfectly mix with the mountainous atmosphere, Maria Papageorgiou told New Europe that the village of Trikala is emerging as a new winter and summer tourist destination due to its close proximity to Athens – only 143 kilometres away; its cleanliness, dry climate, vineyards, and natural water sources.
Trikala is the biggest village in the area and is located on the west side of Mt. Ziria, which was known as Mt. Kyllini in Ancient Greek. Papageorgiou noted that the region is primarily visited by Greek tourists but there is an increasing number of foreign tourists that have started to come in recent years.
The ski center, which is located on the northwest side of Ziria and only 10 kilometres from Trikala, is also a key winter destination. It has a 100-metre-long baby lift and a 400-metre cable lift. The mountain as a location is unique for walks and explorations.
Firs and wild plants surround Dasios Lake, which has a small island right in the middle of the lake. The area has rare species of fauna that are protected by the EU’s network of natural protected areas known as Natura 2000. The mountain also contains many small roads through lush pine forests where you can imagine Zeus sneaking off to meet the Maia for a secret rendezvous.