Livadia: Giant plane trees, waterfalls and cobbled streets near Athens

Livadia

A nearby, small paradise often overlooked by Athenians.

Livadia combines three elements, making it an enjoyable day trip from the Greek capital. The town has Krya Springs, a magical green landscape with running water, is close to Athens, and has famous souvlaki and grilled meats.

The town spreads out at the foot of Mount Helicon, with its impressive Castle standing on the hill of Profitis Ilias, above the gorge of Herkyna, between steep rocks, creating a wild landscape.

At the exit of the Gorge is the Krya Springs created by the river Herkyna. A natural park with a unique landscape, Krya Springs is a gift to the residents of Livadia and visitors who long for contact with the charm of trees and waters.

Livadia

The name of the gorge and river of Herkyna is attributed according to mythology to the nymph Herkyna, a friend of Persephone, the daughter of Demeter. One day, when the two friends were playing with a goose, the goose hid in a cave sealed with a stone. Persephone pulled the stone to catch the goose, and water gushed out from the spring inside the cave. The spring was called Herkyna's Spring and, in its waters, bathed those who came to take an oracle from the Oracle of Trophonius from a local deity who was later identified with Zeus and took the name Trophonius Zeus and whose daughter Herkyna was.

Today, no trace of the famous oracle survives.

An idyllic setting

The area's beauty gives the feeling of peace that only nature can provide. Under the giant plane trees, which in the summer offer rich shade and let the sun pass through their bare branches in the winter, the flowing waters of the river create a dreamlike waterscape.

Livadia

The dense vegetation that reaches down to the banks of the river, the small bubbling waterfalls created at different levels, and the bust of the nymph Herkyna, the work of local sculptor Spyros Gourgiotis, theatrically placed on a rock as if emerging from the waters, create a mythical setting.

The Municipality of Livadia has utilised the natural idyllic setting beautifully. Characteristic stone arched bridges join the banks of the small river, several cobbled streets cross the area, and several benches allow visitors to sit and romance with the lapping of the water in the background.

Adding to the aesthetic pleasure and historical interest is the Watermill with its huge wheel, which is still preserved.

Livadia

On the banks of the Herkyna, watermills were installed that, with the power of the river's rushing waters, moved the factories' engines, impeding the development of homemaking, handicrafts and industry in the area.

You will see it down the cobbled street next to the Springs. Nerotribi is also still preserved, where the inhabitants used to wash their clothes.

The famous souvlaki of Livadia

Livadia is famous for its souvlaki and its grilled meat. Above the springs of Krya, there is the tourist kiosk "Xenia" and many cafes for coffee, sweets, drinks, and ice cream.

Of course, many grills and taverns serve the traditional, popular, and well-known Livadia souvlaki, kokoretsi, kontosouvli, and the like.

You will enjoy the excellent natural environment overlooking the springs.

Livadia

If you want to dive deep into the meat-eating tradition of the city a little further away, look for the "Ta Kopsidia" grill. It has handmade tzatziki, cheese and cheese bread, excellent ribs, lamb shortbread, pork and chicken, biftekia, and much more. If you go on holidays or celebrations, reserve a table because it is very popular (2261 088100, Stratigou Ioannou 97).

If you have ventured into the city, visit the traditional and very beautiful bakery "Gourgioti" (2261028218, Stratigou Ioannou Dimitriou 40). Vintage tiling on the floor and walls around the wood oven, wonderful sourdough bread, pies, and pastries. Spyros Gourgiotis, a baker by profession, made the bust of the nymph Herkyna at Krya Springs since sculpturing is his hobby.

If you want to take a few walks a little further from the Krya Springs, one idea is the Byzantine Castle of Livadia on the hill of Profitis Ilias. The surviving buildings are from the 14th century when the city was under Catalan rule. Particularly impressive is the wall with its three rectangular towers and a two-story building with the church of Agia Varvara on the ground floor and the church of Agia Sophia on the first floor.

Livadia

How to get there: On the National Highway of Athens-Lamia, take the exit towards Kastro and drive for 30 km. If you want to go directly to Piges, entering from the second entrance is better. Otherwise, you will pass through the busy centre. You can avoid the toll by taking the old national road of Thebes-Livadia. Livadia is 130 km from Athens.

Artemi Tzitzi is a columnist for Travel. Translated by Paul Antonopoulos

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