ETOLOAKARNANIA - GREAT STORY IN A UNIQUE LANDSCAPE
Etoloakarnania Etoloakarnania is the largest prefecture with Mesolongi as its capital and borders the prefectures of Arta, Evritania, Fthiotida and Fokida. It is also bathed by the Amvrakikos gulf, the Ionian Sea and the Patraikos and Corinthian gulfs. The beauty of the natural environment is complemented by great and important ancient monuments, religious sites, traditional villages and modern cities with remarkable tourist and commercial traffic. Those who love action in the beautiful places of Etoloakarnania can go hiking, mountaineering, kitesurfing, rafting, bird watching and much more. The highest mountain in the area is Mount Panaitoliko with an altitude of 1,924 m., while Lake Trichonida with an area of 95.8 square kilometers is the largest lake in the country.
The city of Messolonghi is the capital, a place full of monuments, traditional color, landscape of the endless lake and glorious history that fascinates. The Museum of History and Art in Markos Mpotsari Square exhibits paintings by Greek and foreign painters, portraits, engravings, maps, etc. The marina, which operates at an ideal distance from the city center, serves a large number of boats. The Garden of Heroes is an area of 14 acres and is the place where the fighters of the Messolonghi guard are buried, where the bones of Markos Botsaris are located. The Byronic Society of the Holy City at the house of Lord Byron aims to highlight the life and art of the lord, but also of many other Philhellenes.
The Speech and Art Center "Diexodos" is one of the few surviving pre-revolutionary buildings in which the collection includes church relics, rare documents, sculptures, paintings, etc. The lagoon with its picturesque "pelades", the small wooden houses above in piles in water, is protected by the RAMSAR treaty and is an environmental park and ecosystem. The lagoon of Messolonghi, the largest lagoon in Greece, has been a source of life, wealth and prosperity for centuries. The Acheloos River and the Evinos River flow into the lagoon, creating a complex wetland system. Inside the lagoon there are 8 islands, which were used during the siege of Messolonghi.
Nafpaktos is a seaside town, with many attractions and unique picturesqueness. The Castle on the hill above the city is one of the best preserved in Greece and all of Europe. The Port was part of the fortification of Nafpaktos and is a registered trademark. Papacharalampeios Public Central Library hosts the collections of the writer and historian Giannis Vlachogiannis and Seraphim Domvoidis. The Museum of Farmaki - Sacred Struggle houses weapons, paintings, documents, engravings and a room dedicated to the epic of the ‘40s. The ruins of the Temple of Poseidon are located at "Elliniko'', above the village of Velvina. The Hellenic Federation of kayaks and activities such as rafting, climbing, cycling, horseback riding, archery, etc. are located at the Bania Bridge.
Amfilochia is an area of stone and tile that dominate its narrow picturesque alleys full of buildings of more than 100 years. Typical are the round on the coastal road, and the boats along the bay that compose a picturesque image. A great attraction is the ancient state of Limnaia, the ruins of which are spread on the hill, except for a part of its walls that enters the web of the modern city. The "Carvasarian Carnival'' is a reference point in the cultural life of the wider area. There are unique destinations in the area such as the waters at the waterfalls of Agios Varvaros that are offered for diving. It is also worth visiting the mountainous Valtos, a route in the interior of Amfilochia, one of the most beautiful routes in the mountainous Etoloakarnania.
Arachova of Nafpaktia, today's Pentakorfo is a mountain village on the border with the prefecture of Evritania, built on the mountain Kokkinia of the Vardousia mountain range. The view of Evinolimni is dominated by the gorge of Fidari which is the largest artificial lake in Greece seven times bigger than the lake Marathon. It has a 32 km tunnel that transports water to the Mornos dam and from there to Attica. The "fir-covered" Arachova is characterized by endless views, abundant running water and dense vegetation. It has 5 lakeside settlements, Trani Lakka, Kranes, Varies, Vamvakia, Paliochori and 2 mountainous villages Pouliana and Paliarahova.
Astakos is a coastal town built at the foot of Mount Veloutsa in the Akarnanian Mountains. It has a great maritime tradition, unique architecture and island aura with characteristics of the carnagio, the wind, the neoclassical, the narrow alleys and the courtyards of the houses. The Byzantine castle of Dragamestos and the archeological site of ancient Astakos in which the ruins of a temple dedicated to Zeus are preserved. At the foot of the hill, is the "Cave of the Cyclops", a huge cave where it is said that Cyclops Polyphemus lived. In the area there are beaches, secluded coves for swimming and the islets of Echinades, where the famous naval battle of Nafpaktos took place. Also, the vast oak forest, unique in Europe, has the rarest species of oak in the world with an area of thousands of acres.
Mytikas is a seaside village which is so named because it is located on a pointed ledge of the land to the sea. It is a popular destination and from there you can visit the islands of Kalamo, Kasto, Scorpio, Meganisi, Ithaca and Lefkada. There are beaches in the area, many of which are accessible only from the sea. It is also of great archaeological interest as Mycenaean habitation has been identified at Kechropoula. The important port of Ancient Paleros is located on the site of today's Pogonia, which was an important fortress that controlled the area to the northwest and southeast.
Vonitsa is one of the most touristic parts of the prefecture built near the ancient Palace, a commercial colony of the Corinthians near Aktio. On the hill above Vonitsa dominates a castle built in the Middle Byzantine period, the church of Hagia Sophia of rare architecture, and the ruins of buildings. The religious monuments of interest are the church of Panagia, the metropolitan church of Agios Spyridon and the church of Agios Nikolaos. The jewel of Vonitsa is Koukoumitsa, the pine-covered island with the small church of Agios Nektarios that is connected through a stone footbridge to the beach of Vonitsa. There are three small lakes with the common feature of high walls above the water level and three beaches.
Antirrio is a village in the prefecture which is associated with the myths and the passage of the Dorians in the Peloponnese. The Rio-Antirio Bridge dominates the area. It is the largest cable-stayed bridge in the world at 2,252 meters, one of the most important construction projects in Greece. The castle is built at the southern end of the prefecture under the modern bridge of Rio-Antirio, next to the port that connected the Peloponnese with Western Greece. It is built in the shape of a rhombus that had a polygonal tower on each of its noses. The ancient port was found submerged in the sea west of Antirrio. Also on a hill, there are ruins of two ancient cities, Makineia and Molykrea.
Thermo is a village built in the old Kefalovriso, an area with rich springs and tall plane trees and is crossed by a small river that flows into Lake Trichonida. the largest, most beautiful and cleanest lake in Greece. It is the most remarkable in terms of natural beauty with many small fertile lakeside plains. Ancient Thermo, next to the city of the same name, is about 35 kilometers from Agrinio. In the classical period it was a religious center of Aetolian worship and the seat of the Aetolian Confederation. Other important monuments in the archeological site of Thermo are the smaller temples of the Lyceum of Apollo and the goddess Artemis, the so-called "Lafria Artemis''.
Menidi is located on the northeastern side of the Amvrakikos gulf and at the foot of Mount Makrinoros 37 km from Amfilochia. It is a beautiful summer resort with its beach becoming a pole of attraction as well as the sunset in Amvrakikos. North of the coastal road is one of the important wetlands of the Amvrakikos Gulf that is protected by several national and European conditions. One can reach the old port of Kopraina and admire the landscape of wetlands with reeds and lagoons and indulge in bird watching, since the Amvrakikos is selected by hundreds of rare species of birds.
Roe is registered as a product of Protected Designation of Origin, while it is one of the top products in the world. Many call it "the gold of the lagoon", both for its amber color and for its commercial value. The salt is also of excellent quality and taste, preserving the valuable ingredients of the sea. The salt flats of Finikia near Aetoliko, the so-called "Aspri'', which is 11,500 acres and that of Tourlida, known as the "Black" salt flat, of 2,500 acres, produce this excellent product. The excellent climatic conditions favor the production of high quality Kalamon olives and olive oil. The cheese is characterized by a huge range from feta and gruyere to kefalotyri and the rest of the cheese that can satisfy even the most demanding.
Ilyosapono is a special product, which presents a uniqueness in terms of its composition, as it is a cosmetic soap with olive oil and thermal mud. Also noteworthy are the fishery products of the area such as sea bream, sole, sea bass, cuttlefish, squid and the only shrimp known as "gambara". Valuable offer of Etoloakarnania is the vintage honey mainly from thyme, flowers and fir. Of particular interest is the production of oak honey. The area has been known since ancient times for its quality wines such as Mavrodafni, Malagouzia and Augoustolidi. Vintage, innovative award-winning spirits are ouzo and tsipouro. The distillery in the area has a history of centuries and is a guarantee for the excellent quality of the distillates produced.