The Menalon Trail, running through the forests and rivers of the Peloponnese, is the first footpath in Greece to receive European certification and be placed among the Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe after its launch in the village of Stemnitsa on May 31.
Open-air festivals (pangegyria), wood carving exhibits, song and dance events, archery contests, food tasting happenings, herb collecting outings, as well as displays of ancient jewellery-making techniques were part of the series of events held for three days last month across the nine villages along the trail.
The Menalon Trail, created by a group of volunteers from Eastern Gortynia, with the participation of the Arcadian Mountaineers and Ecologists Club (SAOO), is a 75km footpath running along the Lousios River gorge and the western slopes of Mt Menalon, the valley of Mylaon River and crossing the traditional villages of Stemnitsa, Dimitsana, Zygovistii, Elati, Vytina, Nymfasia, Magouliana, Valtesiniko and Lagadia.. It takes about five days to complete.
“Footpaths were once communication networks between local communities and their revival now as ‘Paths of Culture’ will expand this network in Gortynia, Arcadia and the Peloponnese, to the global community,” Gortynia Mayor Giannis Giannopoulos said. Adding that the project would not have been implemented if it weren’t for the cooperative efforts between local communities, volunteers and private enterprise, “which highlights the values required to achieve sustainable and lasting development”.
Representing 55 federations in 30 European countries and boasting 2,700,000 members, Lis Nielsen, president of the European Ramblers Association, stressed the environmental importance of the path, and invited Greeks to walk the trail and experience its unique beauty.
Through the trail, local entities – both private and public – hope to promote the region as an all-year-round outdoor recreational tourist destination and its products, including wine, honey, silver jewellery, wood carving and herbs.