The Prefecture of Karditsa:
Karditsa from air
THE TOWN OF KARDITSA. The capital of the prefecture is Karditsa with 45.000 inhabitants approximately 300 km from Athens and 210 km from thessaloniki. Other important town of the prefecture are Palamas, Sofades and Mouzaki with 5.000 - 7.000 inhabitants each. Karditsa is a new town built at the heart of the Thessaly plain, with modern hotels, ouzeri (ouzo places), taverns, department stores, quality merchandise, original local products and opportunities for relaxing, pleasant and enjoyable moments all year round. It also features a Town Museum, known as the Municipal Historical Folklore Museum "L&N Sakellariou", exhibiting rich folklore and historical material, an archaeological museum and a municipal gallery with works of local painters ispired by the lives and activities of the people of the Thessaly countryside. At the center of the town there is the beautiful park "Pafsilipo".
A century-long history
The geographical position of Thessaly and more specifically Karditsa prefecture, was the main factor that favoured human settlement thousands of years ago. The oldest settlements in the arrea of Karditsa prefecture dating back to the first Neolithic era (6800-3200 BC) and more than 50. Tombs and other kinds of antiquities bear witness to the long and rich history of the area. Dolopes, Athamanes and other tribes werre active in the wild mountainous areas of the prefecture. Important traces of human life dating back to the Middle Paleolithic period were found in areas araound Plastiras lake.
The Thessalian Agrafa
The mountainous part of the prefecture of Karditsa, part of the Pindus mountain range, belongs to the Thessaly Agrafa. It is a vast mountainous park of incomparable natural beauty consisting of inaccessible and harsh mountains. Many of the the mountain peaks, such as Karava (2.184 m), Delidimi (2.163 m) and Voutsikaki (2.154 m) are over 2.000 m in height.
A journey in history
Among the mountain peaks, the gorges, the caves and rivers the forests and alpine meadows and the many gushing springs, the rich vegetation and the innumerable footpaths that cross over the slopes of the mountains and gorges, thousands of people have lived throughout the centuries. Numerous small housing settlements have been built and their inhabitants created a rich folk culture. They have built chapels, churches, monasteries, stone bridges and other monuments that have survived the passage of time and today adorn the vast "picture" of the Thessaly Agrafa. Inhabitants' activities: The main activity of the people in the mountainous and inaccessible areas of Agrafa was stock raising and mainly goat raising. Dwellings: Their activities influenced their general way of life, such as the way their dwellings were set up, their "furnishing", the auxiliary areas and their household appliances. The dwellings of the people at the mountainous regions were made of stone, using the local grey-green stone and clay. They had thick walls strengthened with timbering (two pieces of wood placed along the wall - "zounaria" - with vertical wooden joints, the so-called claps). The windows were small with wooden shutters to protect people from the wild weather phenomena. The doors were heavy and sectional, bolted with a thick plank that rested on a wall recess. Most of the houses were two-storied, with a loft, usually with an inside staicase and very few were three-storied. Goats and sheep, which were the source of dairy products, meat. wool for "tsolia" (covers), woolen blankets and clothing items woven in their looms, were put in the ground floor. The traditional architecture was preserved until the last war when stone and wood were gradually replaced by armored concrete and aluminium. An important turn has been noticed during the past years, mainly as regards structural materials. In many constructions in the mountainous regions, they use today materials and techniques based on tradition. The loom was their most valuable tool for most of the Agrafiote families. The distaff, spindle, reel were working incessantly in order to process the animals' wool and were "flokates" (wooven rugs), woolen blankets, rugs for the houses' floors and the girls' dowries, clothes, nose bags, saddle bags, bags for the household harvest etc.
Churches - Monasteries
During the Post-Byzantine period, 15th and 16th centuries, when the wild Agrafa mountains were not "attractive" for the Ottomans that had subjugated Greece, manu monasteries were built with beautiful architecture and wonderful paintings. These monasteries became extremely active in the area. Many of them are found int the wider area of Plastiras lake and were open to visitors.
There are more than 40 stone bridges in the prefecture of Karditsa, the most important of which are found in the wider area of Agrafa. There are, however, many bridges dispersed in the municipalities around lake Plastiras (Rahula, Apidia, Amarantos, Aghios Georgios, Katania, Moschato, Katafygi etc). The "arches" of the bridges built with endurable carved materials, are elaborate and their statics is an amazing feat.
Water health
Numerus streams running among thw Thessaly Agrafa mountains end up creating the big tributaries of the Acheloos river. One of the biggest is Megdovas or Tavropos. The water element of the mountainous range of the prefecture of Karditsa was considerably enriched when Plastiras Lake was created by blocking the waters of Megdovas at "Kakavakia" at the end of the 1950's. Its name derives from Nikolaos Plastiras who envisioned the project in the mid 1920. The landslides at the beginning of the 60s created the small Stefaniada Lake, at the area of Eastern Argithea, which also enriched the water landscape of the prefecture. Another lake enriching the waters of the ares is Smokovos Lake that has been recently created at the borders of the prefectures of Karditsa and Phthiotida. These elements, in combination with the general environmental and climate conditions of the mountainous range of Karditsa prefecture, have decisively contributed to its tourist development. The prefecture of Karditsa, therefore, is today an important tourist destination all year round. The numerous rivers and the creation of the lakes have contributed to the development of rich flora and fauna.
Flora fauna
The area's flora includes approximately 650 species and subspecies. It is rich in aromatic plants, herbs, wild flowers, bushes and trees depending on the altitudeof each area. There are vast alpine meadows at the mountain peaks which are used by the stock farmers for their animals' grazing during the summer months when the herds return from the winter pasturelands. Numerous species of birds, reptiles, rodents, butterflies and small mammals find refuge in the "embrace" of Agrafa. Approximately 70 species of birds have been recorded in the riparian areas. Hares, foxes, wild boars, ferrets, few deer and even fewer wolves live in the forests of the area. According to many searchers, the name "Nevropoli", the name of the plateau prior to the creation of the lake, comes from the ancient word "nevros" which means "small deer". There are 10 fish species in Plastiras Lake (trout, prawn, eel, carp etc.) caught by hundreds of amateur fishermen that come to the area.
From a plateau to an extremely beautiful lake.
Plastiras Lake is unquestionably the water gem of the Agrafa region. it is located 25 km west of Karditsa at an altitude of 800 m and covers an area of 25.000 stremmata (2.500 hectares). Its maximum length is 14 km, its width 4 km and its maximum depth 60 m. Prior to the creation of Plastiras Lake, Nevropolis was a fertile plateau. This big flat area, with the extensive wheat crops and garden produce and the green pasturelands, supported thousands of people living in the 14 villades of the wider area. The Thessaly Agrafa and the wider area of Nevropolis have a long and rich history. The living conditions in the area were harsh and the families' financial means restricted. Wheat, pulse, vegetables and dairy products were the determinant source of income and survival. During the Turkish occupation, the Ottomans settled in the fertile valleys as the barren and inaccessible areas of the Agrafa region were not attractive. With the Tamasion Convention (1525), the Agrafa area acquires administrative autonomy with Neohori, the main villae of the area then, as the seat. The privileges of freedom enjoyed by the people of these areas due to the treaty contributed to the development and movement of revolutionary-liberating ideas. The Agrafa region gave birth to the chieftains and revolutionaries. The people of Agrafa significantly contributed to the liberation of Greece from Turks and also participated in all the other national liberating wars. The peak was the fight against the German concuerors and their allies during the National Resistance period (1940-1944). The setting-up of the partisan airport of Nevropolis (1943-44) is the brightest example of the fighting attitude and participation of the people of the area in the National Resistance. Allied airplanes would land during thw night at the airport, specially set up by the partisans and after the conclusion of their mission, they would take off again for Africa or Sicily. With the help of the people of the area, the partisans would hide the airport landing strip before the dawn using fake vegetation for camouflage. The Germans, thus, could not realize the existence of the airport during the day. Upon the end of the war and the civil war followed at the end of thw 40s, the financial conditions of the people of the area deteriorate. The creation of the lake in 1960 deprived the people of the wider area of a big and fertile agricultural valley. The bad financial conditions deteriorated further as the arable areas and the pasturelands were covered by the waters of the lake. The people of the area immigrated to the big urban centers, mainly in Athens and the Thessaly plain. The villages amptied and were deserted.
Plastiras Lake today
More than 30 years passed before the first signs of financial recovery became apparent with the tourist development of the area. Plastiras Lake today is the tourist destination for thousand of visitors. the tourist infrastructure created around the lake meets the needs and demands of every visitor. This is not an accidental fact. The Nevropolis plateau was endowed by nature with high mountains. impressive gorges, beautiful valleys and streams with gushing waters. The rich vegetation (firs, acorn trees, chestnut trees, planes, herbs, etc), the great variety of the landscape with the numerous alterations impress and enchant. the created lake - imposing in size - was assimilated in the natural environment transforming the historic Nevropolis plateau into a clear blue enchanting landscape. The cultural and historical monuments of the region, in combination with the range of activities offered around the lake, give the possibility to thousands of visitors to enjoy the beauty of the landscape either in group or individual tours and activities. The visitors can tour the area, creatively exploiting their free time and enjoying the extremely beautiful natural environment; to find pleasure in the original hospitality of the people of the area's villages and the tasteful local products.