Parikiá - Panagía Thapsanoón - Agios Minás - Maráthi - Náoussa

Evaluation: This fairly long hike brings you to two monasteries and the marble-quarries of Maráthi. The monastery of Panagía Thapsanoón is a huge building, which is not really beautiful; the monastery of Agios Minás is also a solid building, but it looks much nicer. The marble-quarries of Marathi are famous and still very impressive (do not forget to bring a torch, though). There are few really nice hiking trails, so the hike only deserves an evaluation of **.
[Update by Raymond on the 4th of May 2010.]

Estimated time: The actual walking time to the monastery of Panagía Thapsanoón takes about 90 minutes. It will then take you a little under 40 minutes to Agios Minás and about 15 minutes to Maráthi. After the detour to the marble-quarries, you can continue, usually via the bed of a small river and then via a monotonous gravel road, until you reach Náoussa – a trip of about one hour and a half. The total actual walking time is thus a little more than 4 hours. We hiked from 9.30am to 4.30pm, a total walking time of seven hours, with a long break to talk to an interesting man in Agios Minás... 

Route description: (0h00) From the windmill in the harbour of Parikiá you follow the road running all the way along the bay towards the west (to the right when standing with your back towards the harbour). You thus walk past an abundance of restaurants and bars; at the far end you would eventually get to the rock with first 1 and then 2 windmills and with the hotels of Pandróssos and Nikólas – marvellously situated!
Halfway this road you find an access road to the kástro (note the sign "Frankish castle") and the old town, with on top of the kástro the really beautiful little church of Agios Konstantínos, with also a very nice ikonostási.

The little church of Agios Konstantínos on the kástro.

The actual beginning of the hike is to be found at the large church with the double towers and the blue domes. You can follow the coastal road until you reach this church, but it is much nicer, of course, to first climb up the kástro and then descend from up there. You then go down via the tower with some striking old construction elements of an old temple, after which you turn to the west and you continue zigzaggingly through the old city – however, you should not move too much away from the sea. You then also arrive at the large church, which is the mitrópoli of this town.

(0h10) At the square in front of the church you do not take the road on the right of the church, but the road on the far right, to the left of the Kialoa-bar and the lotto-shop. Via a long, meandering street you walk inland; after 5 minutes you cross the ring road, next to a bridge and then you proceed straight ahead.

(0h15) At the first crossing, already after 15 m, you take a right; you pass two little streets on the right side and at the following crossing you go left, to the left of a wall and a blue wooden gate. In this way the road meanders between villas until, after 7 minutes, you get to a large villa, with palm trees and a pergola with a staircase on the outside – over here the road splits up. You take the narrower concrete road on the left of the green screen that screens off the villa and you follow this road for 5 minutes – you do not descend into the valley, which means that you have to keep a right at every junction. At a very modest chapel with a flat roof, the road turns into a narrower gravel road; after yet another 2 minutes this road gets to another concrete road.

(0h30) You follow this road to the left and going down and after 100 metres you take the small concrete road off the right, near a sports field on your left-hand side. After a few minutes, at the last big villa, the concrete becomes gravel and after climbing up for another 2 minutes you arrive underneath an electricity cable – on your left and right you notice some tumbled-down buildings.

(0h35) One minute later, the gravel road veers left and on this place you finally find the beginning of the ancient trail, straight ahead, climbing up the side of the hill. There is a rather wide rocky road in front of you (red mark), but the path to the right of the road is obstructed by vegetation and comes to a dead end a little further, because of the road. After one minute you keep going straight ahead and in this way you climb up for 10 minutes, until you get next to another electricity cable. From then on the trail starts going down and after 5 minutes you reach the bottom of the valley.

(0h51)You notice a red dot on a rock, but first of all you have to continue clambering over the rocks – you thus stay under the electricity cable. Sometimes you find a small stretch of the trail on your right, thereafter you notice a second dot and then there is also a small stretch of trail on the left. After about 6 difficult minutes you finally arrive at a kind of filling-station or electricity cabin, built out of grey stones.

While clambering in the rocky river bed...

(0h55) You should watch out here: BEFORE this cabin you take a right leaving the bed of the river, just next to a heavy electricity pole (red mark); in this way you find an obvious and narrow path, which soon becomes broader. The following stretch is very beautiful, between flowering broom (on the 22nd of May 2007), while walking next to a deep gorge. A couple of minutes further you get between the two slopes of the small valley, but you do stay on the left-hand slope. Everywhere you look you see beautiful olive trees and flowering broom!

The path to the Panagía Thapsanoón, in spring, with the flowering broom.

After 7 beautiful minutes the path continues on the left of a metal fence and it becomes narrower (red mark). The path keeps going up and you can see a small corner of the sea behind you.
Some 4 minutes later the monopáti narrows again, running between walls; for a while, the trail is overgrown and further on there are also a number of subsidences.
You continue without difficulties and after a few minutes you can spot the chapel of Péra Panagía on the opposite side. Also the battlemented tips of the Panagía Thapsanoón appear in front of you!

The Péra Panagía and the path next to it.

(1h15) Slightly further the trail gets into the bed of the river and – watch out – you cross the bed by keeping to the left, in the direction of the small church and the house next to it.

[This means that you DO NOT continue in the bed of the river, in order to go up the staircase to the hamlet on the right-hand side of the valley. On the other side of the bed, you DO NOT take a right – there is indeed a trail towards the monastery, but it is densely overgrown.]

You thus go up on the left, between walls and in the direction of the house. You walk past the house and then you go up for about 2 more minutes – until you arrive after two obstacles at a small road. You take a right and you proceed for about 4-5 minutes on the gravel road, until you have to open a gate. For the following 4 minutes you walk on a concrete road, until you get to the left of the large monastery.
Almost opposite, on the left corner of the wall surrounding the monastery, you see the beginning of the continuation of your hike. But first you can go to the right to get to the entrance of the monastery. (1h28)

[The gravel road that continues to the right, past the monastery, describes a huge turn through the interior of the island of Páros, to finally arrive at Léfkes! The road to the left (right of the large electricity pole) goes back to Parikiá.]

The huge building only dates from the year 1939 and it is a nunnery – only decently dressed women can get in. You also have a beautiful view of the coast of Páros with in the sea Náxos (to the left) and the island of Ios (to the right).

The monastery of the Panagía Thapsanoón.

(1h28) From the entrance of the monastery, you retrace your steps and you take the path on the right, immediately after the angle of the wall that surrounds the complex. Some 20 meters further, it continues between walls. The trail veers back for a few moments until next to the road, then then it continues to the right as a rocky gravel road, between walls. You have from here a beautiful view of the modern monastery.
After 5 minutes, you arrive at a gate, with a warning for a Rottweiler dog ... - but some 10 meters BEFORE this gate, you find on the right a narrow monopáti, which descends to the left of a low wall (blue arrow and red mark).

The following stretch is really beautiful: after a couple of minutes you gradually descend into the broad valley, carpeted with flowering broom (on the 23rd of May 2007). Some 7 minutes later you go sharply to the right (red mark) and the trail descends steeper.


The monopáti to Agios Minás.

After about 13-14 minutes you thus reach the bottom of the river, and you follow it sharply to the left (red marks).

(1h49) Shortly thereafter you get to a bifurcation. The trail to Léfkes starts to the RIGHT – you could see this trail already from a distance away, see the hike Parikiá - Panagía Thapsanoón - Léfkes. You DO NOT take this trail, though, but shortly thereafter you arrive at a well and over there you do take the trail that goes up on the right.
You walk through a number of small fields and then you go more to the right until you get to a chapel
. It is closed, but maybe you can have some rest at one of the picnic tables? From the south-eastern corner of the chapel (at the back and on the left) you find a trail that goes further up. In this way, and by keeping to the right, you easily reach the small hamlet of Vouniá – it seems that only one of the houses is still occupied. You get to a gravel road, which you follow to the left. Already after a couple of minutes you can distinguish the fortified monastery with the blue dome of Agios Minás, very far away in front of you.
You go down for about 10 minutes, unfortunately usually on concrete, and then the road turns into gravel and it goes up for another 7 minutes. At the bottom you have, of course, kept to the left (sign to A. Minás) and halfway you have kept to the right...

(2h10) Some 20 minutes after you have left the chapel you thus reach the fairly large monastery.

The huge walls of Agios Minás.

At this monastery we were welcomed by an enthusiastic and talkative man who talked endlessly about himself and the monastery. Later this year he will turn 80 and he once worked in Canada. His name is Minás as well, just like the name of the monastery: Minás K. Damiás. The monastery dates from 1850, and there used to be 35 monks; the icon would be about 7-800 years old. He shows us the church with the beautiful ikonostási, he asks us to climb onto the roof to ring the bell and he also gives us a bottle of wine at our departure….

Inside Agios Minás...

The ikonostási of Agios Minás.

From the exit of the monastery you follow the staircase for 1 minute and then you take the monopáti off the right. In this way you get to a gravel road where you go right. This is an easy road and after about 10 minutes you keep to the right and you reach some concrete. A couple of minutes later you walk through the village of Maráthi by keeping to the right again; you now walk in the direction of the main road. About 100 m before the road you find a gravel road off the right and a sign "Ancient marble quarries Marathi".

(2h27) You make a small detour to the right and you soon reach the first open mine. A small road off the left leads you to the sign "Marble quarries", and behind this sign you see a large hole and an underground shaft. This is the place where, in the classical era, the famous marble of Páros was obtained; amongst others it was also used for the construction of the Parthenon (432 B.C.). In recent times there was a railroad to transport the marble to Parikiá!

An underground shaft.

By continuing you arrive at a beautiful, marble-paved lane, leading to the asphalt road, on the right of a bridge.

(2h37) You follow the asphalt road to the right, but already after 4 minutes you take the small asphalt road off the left (signpost to Ag. Thomas). A few minutes later you reach a small river and you continue next to this river for another 3 minutes – until you pass a marble company on the left and a cement company (Lafarge concrete) on the right. You then continue in the bed of the small river - quite understandably, this river is called the Xiropótamos ("dry river")!

(2h46) Strikingly, from this point onwards, the bed of the river is really very passable, maybe also as a result of the concrete residue, which tends to be washed along with the rain. You continue on this sandy trail in a very pleasant way - when it is not too hot -  for almost 25 minutes.

In the river bed of the Xiropótamos.

You meander between the hills until you reach a dam, after about 22-23 minutes. You pass this dam on the right-hand side. Slightly further you have to leave the bed of the river on the left, because water often blocks the way near the second dam. You pass a kind of filling station, you find the path on the left-hand bank and you walk to the second dam.

One of the dams on the Xiropótamos.

You can walk on the dam to the other bank and you go up the slope, towards the right. There is no trail, until you have to clamber over a small wall and you thus get to a gravel road which follows the valley. You take a left obviously.

(3h13) You should follow this gravel road for about 25 minutes; below you notice another 3-4 dams and the bed of the river looks really stony now – it would have been impossible to follow the bed any further. After a couple of minutes you already spot the sea and the white houses of Náoussa, far away in front of you. After 25 minutes you take some rest, inside a very pleasant and modern little chapel (Agios Nektários?).

(3h38) You reach a small concrete road, you take a left and you continue for another 15 minutes, first in and then on the left of the river.

(3h53) You cross the main road next to a bridge and on the opposite side you continue on a broad asphalt road. A little further you get to a junction and you keep to the left. You pass the bus station and for the final stretch you walk along a small canal in the middle of the road.

(4h06) You thus reach the picturesque little harbour of Náoussa.  

The little harbour of Náoussa.

The houses of Náoussa on the sea side.

Over here you find many boats to bring the tourists to the popular beaches of Monastíri and Kolymbíthres. You can also go to the right, through the nice little village, until you arrive at the beaches of Agios Dimítrios (5 minutes) and Agii Anárgyri (15 minutes).

The beach of Agii Anárgyri.

In May 2007 there were busses back to Parikiá at 6.30pm and at 8.30pm.

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