Text and Photographs by Andromahi Vakatseli
In the shadows of the Acarnanian Mountains lies the village of Monastiraki, just half an hour away from Lefkada. In a landscape of incomparable natural beauty with running waters and centenarian plane trees you come across elderly folk who walk around with their crooks and drink coffee in the traditional coffee houses. You are right at the heart of Ksiromero and everything here is reminiscent of a different era.
The Kefalovrysos river traverses the village and you can marvel at it from the small bridge in the central square of the village, walking on the cobbled alleys or visiting the nerotrives where professionals wash clothes in the river with a traditional and natural method that uses the momentum of the water and no detergent.
The river forms three thermal springs, named Chelona (Turtle), Neraida (Fairy) and Korpi. The latter is 3km away from the village and there is a settlement around it that goes by the same name and was once built for the spa visitors. The bottled water “Korpi” is produced in the area. Kefalovrysos, however, hides more secrets. The river creates one of the most imposing and impressive natural landscapes in Greece, the towering and relatively unknown waterfall of Sepetos. Access to it is very difficult because the whole area is untouched and full of dense vegetation. The cave of Neraidospilia (Ferry Cave) is located behind the waterfall.
You can find one of the most important byzantine monuments of Acarnania just 2km south of the village, the temple of the Transfiguration of Jesus (Christ Pantocrator) which was probably built on top of an earlier temple. There is a debate on whether the Monastery of the Saviour of Sfeta was located there, with records going back to 1229 A.D. The village was probably named after this temple and has its celebration on August the 18th according to the Old Calendar. During the three-day fest, a large crowd swarms the village of Monastiraki.
The area is famous for its tasty meat and dairy products. Ask for the traditional desert called “kourimas”. Its traditional grill restaurants and tavernas attract many costumers even during winter. Before the celebration of Easter, the locals still follow the custom of the trumpet, crafting the musical instrument from the crust of a willow tree. Monastiraki is ideal for those seeking authentic experiences.