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Granitis – Agios Pavlos – Ochyro

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Granitis village is located on the road axis Drama – Nevrokopi, at the foothills of the north side of Falakro, in granitisits south-west part. It is 11km far from Nevrokopi and 31km far from Drama. In the past, it was built lower, at the two banks of the stream with the same name. However, today, it has been removed and as a result, reached the road. Granitis was known from the past for its excellent climate. That is why; there was the sanatorium, during the prewar years and the children’s camp by the Metropolis of Drama, during the postwar ekklisiayears. We find the village at a narrow place, which joins the plain of Drama with the basin of Nevrokopi. So, it is located in a passage and specifically, at its entrance – which was guarded by the fortifications of Lisse and Pyramid, during the Second World War. The old post Byzantine church of Granitis (1837) is a three-aisle, wood-roofed, vasilikis rhythm one, which is dedicated to Taxiarches. Nowadays, in Granitis, there are two modern hotel units and lively taverns. To get know this place better, you have to go hiking. You can discover many interesting ways through the dense beech and oak trees forests. There are other fruit trees too - such as walnut, perennial chestnut, cherries, hazelnut, pear and other trees – and remnants of old tree crops, as well.

The route which leads to the peak «Agios Pavlos» (1,769m) is the hardest and the most famous one. You can granitis11take the path which starts from the abandoned sanatorium. The latter is located west to the village and there have been sprouted several trees up to the roof of the old building – most of which, are poplar trees. We go on south and take the path, where the observant visitors feel this place, like a kind of botanical garden, because of the various vegetation. It does not seem to be a difficult path. However, we have to ascend, when we exit the forest and get into the false Alps zone, to sanatoriothe neck, known as «Trapezi» (Table). Here, meadows are covered by loads of crocus (saffron), early in the spring, which form bright yellow or blue areas and create contrasting color above the white surface – when it is constantly snows. We continue our way, thus, we go till the foot of the hill from where it starts a real adventure for the hiker. We have to be determined and fit, in order to ascend the peak. There is a path, but, in order to reach quickly, we can ascend vertically, step by step. Through the limestone rocks, there are gulches resulting in vacuum and take our breath away even more. We need 3 monopatihours to ascend, which the longest mountaineering time – however, a beginner needs much more time. As we approach the peak, we can make out the little church of St. Pavlos, which was built by the army in 1952. It is a tiny building and only one person can get in it. When the ascent ends, we feel a need to light a candle. This tiny church has no door. It has fallen down by the storms that happen very often up there, on the windswept peak. A few damaged candles still exist…

It is hard to describe this experience up here on the peak of «Agios Pavlos». Even if the winter sometimes2 lates, it is possible to find one northern side of the hill, covered by snow, towards the basin of Nevrokopi. However, the south side, towards the valley of Aggitis, is dry and sunny. At the side of the basin, we can see from above, the sinkholes of Ochyro, which supply Aggitis River, but from the other side, they are not visible. However, our visual field, allows us to see the whole plain of Drama, till Paggaio Mountain and Fillipi, offering us, a sense of domination. It is a great «pleasure» to drink the cool water or eat an orange, as we take some oxurorest in the sunshine, (before we go downhill – even if it is much easier now to breathe, but maybe harder for our legs, in comparison with the ascent.) If we do not want to walk or it is no possible, we can take an appropriate vehicle of four-wheel drive, in order to reach the location of «Trapezi». There, the visitors have the great opportunity to enjoy the extraordinary view, which simply offers the peak of «Agios Pavlos». We approach the road from Granitis, following the left branch of the road that dentradrives us south. The road passes through old fruit crops and after 3km, we find a cowshed. Then, we ascend, in order to get into the forest. We continue our route under the trees and reach the abandoned quarry and that is the end of our walk.

There is another forest road which starts from sanatorium and leads us to the basin and Ochyro. When we have the first snowfall, this route is offered for hiking and adventure. Trees are drooped by the snow, wild animal traces are visible above the untrodden snow and our legs sink into the snow up to the knee. Finally, the fierce cold wind makes our walk special and interesting. The only thing that we really need is a nice company and thermos with tea.