Messariá - Moní Panachrántou - Messariá

Evaluation: This is a variant of the long hike from Chóra to the monastery of Panachrántou via Ménites and Messariá. This hike is much shorter and can thus easily be made in half a day. The monastery is really worthwhile and the trail up and down is absolutely wonderful. This trajectory is part of the long hike [1] and all the way long it is very well signposted. This hike gets an evaluation of ***.

Estimated time: The marvellous climb from Messariá till the monastery takes about 1h20 and for the descent you can count the same. This actual hiking time of 2h40 refers to a hike of half a day: we took the bus to Messariá at noon and we hiked till 6.30 pm – with a break of almost 2 hours for the visit to the monastery and our picnic in the beautiful front yard (this is thus a total walking time of 4h30).

Route description: The busses from Chóra to Batsí and Gávrio or to Ormos Korthíou also pass Messariá. Usually, but not always, they then take the road running underneath the village. You should ask the bus driver to stop where the trail to the monastery crosses the road ("Boríte na stamatísete kondá sto monopáti pou paï sto monastíri?"). The correct trail is easily recognisable by the trail markers [1].

[If the bus would go through the centre of Messariá, it stops near the large outdoor terrace of the tavern of Diónysos; slightly further you notice the residential tower of Kaïri. In order to start the hike [1] to the monastery of Panachrántou, you continue on the asphalt road for a little while, until you arrive at the large residential tower (pýrgos) of Kaïri, which you see in front of you. Just before this tower you find the beginning of trail [1].

The tower of Kaïri in Messariá.

You follow the concrete path for about 3 minutes and then you cross the asphalt road – the trail continues on the opposite side of the road.]

A little further down the concrete path becomes a nice gravel path; it runs between walls and it descends into the valley with a great view on the monastery and on the village of Fállika. You can hear the splashing of water and indeed, slightly further you get to a small river.  After 12-13 minutes going down you reach a marvellous bridge, the bridge of Stichioméni – about 20 minutes after your departure from Messariá.

The bridge of Stichioméni

After the bridge you keep to the left almost immediately ([1] + signpost); you continue to follow the dry bed of a river, keeping an eye on the trail marker [1].

Next, you leave the valley by going up on the left and by following the meandering trail you climb up quickly – behind you there is a great view on the villages of Messariá and Ménites and in front of you the views on Fállika and the monastery get clearer. After climbing up steadily for about 15 minutes you reach some flatter grounds. Further on you arrive at a three-forked junction between walls: on the left (red arrows + a trail marker with a little red triangle) there is an alternative trail to return to Chóra via Livádia; you continue straight ahead.

Good signs on our way to the monastery.

A beautiful trail with rocky steps brings you higher and higher: you keep going straight ahead, with the trail markers [1], and you ignore the paths off the right (there is a wooden sign post to Fállika), off the left twice and again off the right.  

The monopáti with, still far away, our goal, the monastery.

You should also note the rustling of the black and green grasshoppers and beetles under your feet and on the walls.

After another 18 minutes of climbing up on a beautiful trail you stop for a while on a beautiful spot: nearby you can see the ruins of the deserted village of Petriás, close by, also on the left, there is the village of Fállika, and far away, on the opposite side of the large valley you can distinguish: the village of Pitrofós and the church high up on the left, the village of Aladinoú a little lower, the village of Ménites midst the cypresses, the houses of Messariá (with the blue dome and the tower at our point of departure), then also the villages of Lámira and Ipsiloú and the town of Chóra all the way on the right!!

You continue for almost half an hour on this marvellous and unambiguous climbing trail, sometimes between yellow broom, high up above Fállika till you get to the monastery.

Some two hundred metres before the monastery you arrive at a gravel road – you have to come back to this spot for the return route. Via the gravel and concrete road you walk along the back side of the monastery till the modern white arch indicating the entrance. You go down the staircase and you get to the beautiful terrace with the large plane trees.  A marvellous spot to picnic!

The inner yard of the monastery.

The Iera Moní Panachrántou - also called Agios Panteleïmonas - is situated at an altitude of 500 m; one out of the six still living monks welcomes you with refreshing water and loukoum and shows you around. He tells you that the monastery dates from the 10th century, but that the oldest historical indications go back to the 16th century. You can admire a wonderful icon in the church and also a beautiful wooden ikonostási from the 18th century. On the inner yards there are some wells with streaming water and also the large dining room and the old kitchen are very interesting. Unfortunately, the rich library is not accessible.

The beautiful ikonostási in the monastery of Panachrántou.

When strolling around you should definitely walk all the way up, because the view over the terraces is really beautiful.

View of the dome of the church - with deep under Chóra.

For the way back you have to go through the entrance arch and then you have to take a left sharply. You thus get to the side and the backside of the monastery. You reach a small concrete road, but at the first curve – so at the beginning of the gravel – you go straight ahead up the stony slope and in this way, when getting to the top about 80 metres further, you will discover the red arrow on the cliff. This arrow is an indication of the return route – the hiking sign "Gefíri Stichioménis 50' / Messariá 1h10" lies broken off on the ground.

The following descent is absolutely wonderful; you follow a rocky trail with steps, some 23 minutes till the look-out above the ruins of the old village of Petriás - you should also notice the terraces on the right of and underneath Fállika. Deep down you can even see the bridge of Stichioméni, which you will pass again later on.

You keep following the main trail: this means that after 4-5 minutes, at the ruins, you take a right at the junction (red dot); slightly further you go left, after another 5-6 minutes you DO NOT take a right, but you continue straight ahead; one minute further you keep to the right at the junction (the path to the left goes towards Fállika).

Another 2 minutes later you arrive at the grassy junction between walls, where there is an alternative trail to Chóra on the right; this trail goes via Livádia (note the red arrow and the sign with a little red triangle). See my hike Chóra - Panachrántou - Livádia - Chóra.

You thus go straight ahead (red dot and trail marker [1]): the beautiful trail descends quickly into the narrow valley underneath Fállika via countless steps. After some 10 minutes you reach the bed of a river midst blooming oleanders (on the 12th of May 2005) and you follow this bed for a couple of minutes. In this way you get to the marvellous arched bridge over the Megálos Potamós – your small bed of a river ends in this larger river. You can take some rest here and watch out for frogs and tortoises in the water.

The Stichioméni-bridge with in the background the monastery and Fállika.

On the other side of the bridge you descend on the right to the bed of the river, which you follow downstream on the right-hand side of the wall – for a short while you walk between oleanders and other bushes next to the water, but very soon you find the staircase and the trail on the left – you thus rise above the valley.

Some five minutes after the bridge you continue straight ahead and you DO NOT go up steeply on the left. The following climb is quite strenuous and after 14 minutes your trail turns into a narrow gravel road. This gravel road becomes concrete and it leads to an asphalt road. You continue straight ahead on an overgrown trail. Very soon the trail gets clearer and it leads to the main street of Messariá, near the living tower of Kaïri.

You go slightly to the right and you get to the tavern of Diónysos, a welcome place to have a rest. Over here you can wait for the bus or for a taxi. If the tavern is closed, you can go a little further to the right, just past the church, and find an old café + shop, which is basically always open.

[If you still have the courage you can continue to Chóra on foot, via Lámira. You can find this return route in the long hike Chóra - Ménites - Messariá - Moní Panachrántou and back.]

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