Marathos Village - Agrafa's Best Kept Secret

Marathos, Agrafa

The Agrafa region is one of Greece's most isolated and inaccessible areas. The most popular but probably untrue story about the origin of its name, which means ‘unwritten’ in Greek, is the Ottoman's inability to collect taxes from its inhabitants, which resulted in the area being erased from tax records. Therefore, the name Agrafa means that it remained ‘unrecorded’.

Marathos is undoubtedly a prime example of an unspoilt area like Agrafa, as Travel discovered. The BBC has described it as “the inaccessible Switzerland of Greece“. Standing in the village’s stone square, we gaze at the mountain ridges unfolding before us. It’s not just the snow-covered landscapes that are so impressive and have been imprinted on our minds. Before coming here, we had read that, according to UNESCO, Agrafa has some of Europe's cleanest water and air, and we saw it for ourselves. Our Athenian lungs hadn’t felt this good in a long time.

Marathos, agrafa

The village was the home of Katsantonis, the legendary ‘klepht’ of Roumeli, who was killed by Ali Pasha’s forces and is considered a proto-martyr of the Greek Revolution. A bust in the village square honours Katsantonis.

The village had about 30 families at the beginning of the 19th century. In the census of 1907, the population figure was 403. Today, there are very few permanent residents, but during the weekend of the Holy Spirit, it fills up again with people when the festival of Katsantonia is held in honour of Katsantonis. People from Marathos return to the village to celebrate.

While we were there in wintertime, the village was essentially deserted, allowing us to admire the arched bridges, water mills, stone houses and alleyways of Marathos. They were in better condition than expected in such a small place, as even those who no longer live here love and look after it.

At the watermill, we meet one of the few permanent residents who explains how difficult daily life is in such a place, especially in winter. For him, moving is not an option; his life is wholly identified with the mountains and waters of the area.

Marathos, agrafa

Before continuing our journey, we stop at the Church of the Archangels, which has stood on its site for hundreds of years and has stunning frescoes inside. Before returning to the car to continue our exploration, we enjoyed the freshness and clean air of the mountain again. We feel fortunate to have come to this truly unspoilt place, perhaps the only one in Greece where everyday life is so reminiscent of times gone by.

Tips for Your Visit

Marathos, agrafa

It’s best to come here in a vehicle you trust, and even better if it has four-wheel drive, as you’ll inevitably be driving on dirt roads.

Hikers will find themselves in a real paradise. After all, the area’s trails are still a hub of communication for the locals.

Agrafa is truly ‘untouched’ by mass tourism. If you visit, make sure you show respect for nature. And a few figures to illustrate just how inaccessible this beautiful area is. Marathos is about 5 hours by car from Athens, about an hour and a half from Karpenisi, just under 2 hours from the touristically developed Megalo Chorio and 50 minutes from the main village of Agrafa, where there are accommodation and catering facilities. This infrastructure is also available in Kerasochori, about an hour’s drive away.


READ MORE: GREECE: Visit Nafplion, One of Europe’s Most Beautiful Towns.

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