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Falakro: The local villages

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The south and longest part of Falakro Mountain is  naked. However, a dsc01836real treasure was hidden inside it, for the people of the area. This treasure was the exceptional marble of the region, which gave the opportunity for many people, to take advantage of it and stay there. The marble’s mining was a job with perspective, so that the place was economically developed. This caused the damage of the natural environment and especially, the wild vegetation of the steep slopes of Falakro. On the other hand, this place offers the greatest ways through deep gorges, rocky slopes and gorges of lush vegetation, in order to reach the tops of Falakro, in 2,000m. It is so high there, so that you have the sense that you are «in the arms of the wind». In addition, this area has a long history and a wide range of traditions.  2

At the east foot of Falakro and north of Drama, is Monastiraki village, 6km far from the town. There, live today, 700 people and many of them have been working from the past, in marble factories. In Monastiraki, we find the church of the village, which is dedicated to St. Georgios (1842). It is a three-aisle church of vasiliki rhythm, with women’s quarters and chagiati (a roofed verandah). The church is decorated outside, by the bell-tower (1890).

  1Leaving Drama from the west, after 5km, on the road for Nevrokopi, we reach Xiropotamos with the 2,500 residents, the majority of which occupy with the marble elaboration. There, still remains one of the oldest churches of Drama. It is a three-aisle, wood-roofed church of vasiliki rhythm, dedicated to St. Theodori (1815). We also find the ruins of an ancient castle, close to the «Kalelik» hill. Its role was to control the pass ways of the region. Going back, on the road for Nevrokopi, we will try a new way at the foot offaraggipetrousas05 Falakro, in order to find the wonderful Gorge of Pyrgi. From Stavros residence, we reach after 3km in Petroussa, where the ruins of the temple are still there. This temple of the 19th century was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and has loads of Roman and Byzantine sculptures on the walls, as building materials.

We continue our drive north and we find the Gorge of Pyrgi, after 8km. It is not difficult to reach there, because of the smooth turns and the passable road. It is easy to see in front of us the highest tops of Falakro and we can’t wait to approach there. Turning on the right, we see the Gorge of Pyrgi. Driving on the central road of the village and looking at the tops, the view is magnificent and breath-taking.

In Pyrgi, we search for the road that leads us to the Metamorfosis Tou Sotiros (Transfiguration of Christ) Church and we go on the earthen road in parallel with the gorge. After driving or hiking 4km, we reach the bouno08falakro«Sousitsa» location (dry threshing floor), as the locals call it. Then, we are obliged to leave our vehicle there, in order to continue on foot 500m, till the location of «Kapi», «Stala» (trickle), a name, related to the moisture of the small cavity in the mountain.

In this position, begins a unique walk in the gorge - which is still not exploited - for 3 hours, before we make sure that we are dressed appropriately to.

Even the fact that there are narrow spots among the mountains and lush vegetation in the path; we have an easy walk that leaves us to enjoy the beautiful landscape. Being captivated by the nature’s beauty, we stbouno06falakroeadily approach the territory that leads us to the tops of the mountain. Vegetation here is denser, we see loads of fir-trees, willow-trees and beech-trees on the slopes and glades inside the gorge, while running waters flow through the trees. In front of the gorge and the imposing tops, the visitors are emotionally touched by the majesty of the nature’s scenery. If people take into consideration to avoid visiting the place - when it is rainy weather and in the early part of the spring - because there is danger of rock sliding - then the way into the gorge is accessible.

If we have a jeep or another appropriate vehicle and we desire to watch the Gorge of Pyrgi and the Falakro tops from a higher point of view, we follow the way to «Sitna». We are going to have a nice drive till the little church of St. Loukas, which is 500m far from the village. Then, we ascend and our drive becomes harder, because of the rocks and the mud that cover the surface of the road.

On the left, we can see the gorge and just in front of us, we can make out the tops.

bouno12falakroFollowing the north-east course, we leave our vehicle at the little church of St. Anargiri, 12,5km away from Pyrgi, and we continue on a slope another 400m, till the peak of «Kato Vardena». There is a spectacular view. Just in front of us and on the right, we can make out the highest tops of Falakro. On the other side, we can see the «Kartalka» peak of 2,035m and on the right, are the «Chionotrypa» in 2,111m and «Profitis Ilias» in 2,232m. These tops create a kind of a very impressive wreath. There is a gull of lush vegetation in front of them, which ends to the gorge. We will not forget to play with our echo that is created on the surfaces of the steep slopes; because the latter is a kind of a natural sound box.dscf0133

Our next station is Volakas on the west side of Falakro. We will follow the road for Nevrokopi, having an interesting course on the west, through the slopes of «St.Pavlos» and on the central complex of Falakro at east. When we pass the manganese mine, we turn right and ascend the plateau of Volakas at 830m, 36km far from Drama. The indigenous, hospitable residents of Volakas occupy with the mining of the worldwide known marble of the area and with logging. In the centre of the village dominates the temple of Profitis (Prophet) Ilias (1841), with its stone-built bell-tower of the last century.

After our visit in the village, we return in the junction which leads us to the Ski Resort of Falakro, 48km far from Drama.

We enjoy an exciting course, passing from the beech and black pine forests, getting close to the neck of dscf0112«Kouri». The way offers to the visitors, every season, so beautiful icons of a special green Spring scenery, till the golden-yellow scenery of Fall and finally, the white scenery of Winter. We leave ourselves free to enjoy the extraordinary view of Falakro slopes and the mountains of the other side. When we see the meadows and the pasturages, we can stop our course for a while. Higher, on the plateau of Agio Pnevma (Holy Spirit), 12km far from Volakas, those who adore winter sports, are going to have ax.k falakrou 1 3 great time in the natural place, where they can ski at an altitude of 1,745m, usually from December to April. This place, of the ski resort, is available to offer ways for each level - lower or advanced. So, it is the appropriate one for beginners and athletes, too. Having a big, drag lift of 1,200m and other two for children, of 480m and 120m, ski becomes the most exciting experience for the whole family. The most experienced skiers start to descend on the natural, snowing surface of 1,250m length, at 2,000m altitude. A part of the ski way, can be used for «snow-board», for young people who like winter sports. There is also, a special place for those who like driving «skidoo».

In the ski resort, visitors who ask for sport’s equipment are going to be trained by experienced xionodromiko kentro falakroutrainers. They are also going to enjoy a walk on the snow till the neck of the mountain at north-east, having a nice view of the artificial lake of Nestos and the tops of Rhodope. Then, they can have some rest in the café and the restaurant. The whole area is offered for hiking on the marked paths, each season of the year and it is required to be fit, in order to ascend easily. The ski resort has many rooms available for those who want to stay overnight and a parking area for 800 cars.xionodromiko kentro falakrou 158

A phenomenon of the region is the bloom of wildflowers during the spring, which starts from the last days of April. The transition from winter to spring is very slow, while the snow is melting on the high tops of the mountains, at about 10m away; we find a colorful place. This is full of yellow and purple crocus, which is a very beautiful mountain flower. On the early part of the spring, demanding visitors will enjoy another natural environment of Falakro, which differs from the other, during the winter months; however, it is the same charming.

Among the traditions of the villagers, in the central Falakro, dominate those, which are relevant with masked people in the early part of the year. In Monastiraki, on the day of Theofania (Epiphany), 6th     g 62of January, the young people of the village are disguised in «Arapides», «Giliges or «Girls» and «Tsoliades». A festival takes place in the square of the village, early in the afternoon; they enjoy listening to the local musical instruments, such as lira (lyre) and dayres. In Xiropotamos, another festival, 7th of January, takes place, with masked people, named «tseta», which is accompanied with local music, dancing, drinking wine and eating boiled goat. Similar events and local festivals take place in Volakas and Petroussa, on 7th-8th of January and in Pyrgi, on 6th-7th the same month.

There are also other important local festivals in the area, during the whole year. A very successful festival in Xiropotamos is the international one, of traditional dancing, in the end of July. Very close to Petroussa, an amphitheatrically structured place is opened to the visitors (known as a stone Theatre of Petroussa), which is located inside the gorge, as it passes through the village and it is offered for cultural events in the summer-time.

In Pyrgi, on 6th of August, people have fun during the festival of the village. In Volakas, people participate in another event, known as «moularodromies» (mule races), on the mountainous region. bolakasThis happens, the day of Agio Pnevma «Holy Spirit» and during the days, known as «Iliana», where people celebrate for Profitis (Prophet) Ilias, from 17 to 20 of July. The dwellers of Volakas honor every fall, Armen Kouptsios, a young person, who fought and died during the Macedonian Struggle.

Generally, all the villages of the area offer tasty foods to the visitors. In Monastiraki and Pyrgi, we are going to taste grilled goat and in Volakas we can find delicious sausages. There is a guestroom there for the visitors. If they choose to stay there, they will have the great opportunity to visit Falakro and have fun at the ski resort. They can also enjoy hiking on Falakro, or driving with an appropriate vehicle north of the mountain, in order to reach Livadero.