Thursday, 6 September 2007

Mount of God

Mount of God, Pandokrator for the local people, is the tallest peak on the green island of Kerkyra (Corfu for the non Greek), and is situated in the northern part of the Ionian Sea , between the Greek mainland and Albania and Italy. The mountain was named after God, Who is pandokrator, that is to say ,He governs everything.

The myth says that the hospitable Pheakes lived on the island long ago and their kind king Alkinoos had an only daughter, Nafsica, who first met Ulysses, the king of Ithaca, shipwrecked on a beach of the island . There is still his petrified ship to see at Paleokastritsa, a popular area on the west side of Corfu.

The northern part of the island where Pandokrator lies is the richest in green. Mount Of God is 918 meters high and has got a monastery on top dedicated to God the Savior. From up there the visitor can admire a wonderful view to all directions , let alone the marvellous dawn and sunset.

Climbing the mount is easy, as there are roads and paths right to the top and a drive by bike , motor bike or car is feasible. There are numerous villages scattered among the green on the way up and there are vast olive groves in every direction. The scenery is adorned by an abundance of tree variety as well. You can see tall cypress trees, pine trees, oaks and orchards and vineyards in between. There you can feel the smell of wild herbs and flowers lingering in the air.

However, the road upwards is winding and narrow so the traveler should be careful when driving. There are many routes one can follow, depending on the area they want to explore. For walkers, the route, Ipsos, Ayios Markos, Korakiana, Dassia, and back to Ipsos is the most popular and the easiest. Up there you can see nature in its full glory , any time of the year.

One of the most picturesque villages , literary perched on the side of the mount is Ayios Markos. The houses are built on the very edge of the narrow road and overlook vast olive groves that reach the beach of Ipsos beyond. To reach the beach from Ayios Markos you need only 5 to 10 minutes by car or 30 mins brisk walking.

A big village on the side of the mountain is Korakiana, Crow Nest in English. There used to be lots of crows in this village years ago, but nowadays there is a big variety of singing birds around, offering the people a unique melody all the year round.
Korakiana is the perfect village to rent a house or a room or even stay there for good. Some foreign visitors have recently bought real estate at low prices and have built their own houses on the mount. It is worth the money and time spent on a housing project over there if one likes nature and especially the green.

Starting from village Korakiana towards Socraki (top) the route is climbing and has got sharp hairpin bends but it is worth the drive. The scenery below is breathtaking. On the first bend upwards the traveler can visit the tiny old chapel of Ayios Isidoros and can light a candle. The chapel has got a big bell that rings only on the Saint’s name day and in emergencies such as fires. It was built a very long time ago to honor the Saint for saving a cart driver’s life . His cart had fallen over the path but the man was alive. This is an old story the local people still tell one another.

Mount of God is definitely a place for nature lovers and adventure seekers as it combines everything, from healthy living on mount lodgings to extensive nightlife on the beach bars and discos. Fun and sports , such as climbing and sea sports , tasty local cuisine and local drinks are some of the most popular attractions.

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