How about a short trip through time?
Our starting point will be Léfkes, the queen of Paros’ mainland. A beautiful mountain village, with scattered neoclassical strokes of the brush, enriches its known Cycladic character with the labyrinth narrow streets, the shady arches and the chaotic game of the white volumes of the houses. In old times, when the Aegean Sea was ploughed by pirates, Léfkes was the protected capital city of the island and a network of cobblestone streets linked it to the other villages in the island as well as the ports. A taste of such a distant past, a taste of another Paros, difficult to be found on the crowded beaches, can be savoured on the “Byzantine Road”, the best known and best preserved section of the island’s old stone paved streets.
The Byzantine Road links Léfkes with the small, traditional settlement of Pródromos. It is said that it was constructed in Byzantine times, about 1,000 years ago, and was part of a central road traversing the entire island, joining Parikia with Pisso Livádi, as well as the Proti Castle with that of Kéfalos. It is a route lasting about an hour and a half, within the virgin Parian landscape, pleasant, short and accessible to all.
While in Léfkes, here’s how you will find the Byzantine Road:
(1) Start at the sharp turn where the bus coming from Parikia stops.
(2) Take the wide central road that goes inside the village, and you will arrive at the beautiful central square, where a clearly legible sign will direct you to a typical Cycladic narrow street leading to Ayia Triáda, the largest church in Léfkes.
(3) Just before the church, at a crossroads, turn towards the direction shown by a smaller and not so clear sign, and after about 100 metres you will reach the south-easternmost point of the island. There a sign saying Byzantine Road and a white stone mark the start of the route.
Just a soil path at some of its parts today, but mostly as wide, stove paved and well preserved road, the Byzantine Road goes downhill lazily towards the east, traversing terraced slopes, olive trees, myrtles, wild flowers and herbs. Loosen up and allow yourselves to inhale the intoxicating aromas of sage, thyme, oregano while walking in the peaceful landscape. Let yourself travel in time, if only for moments, to older times when peasants, merchants and sailors walked along.
Half way along the road traverses a dry stream bed with a little bridge, going slightly uphill on a slope and reaches the mountain top with awesome views of the eastern part of the island. Next go downhill northeastern bound towards Pródromos, a village very different from Léfkes, but equally beautiful and special, typical of a fortified Cycladic settlement, where the houses used to form walls protecting their village from pirates and other invaders.
Some useful tips:
• You won’t need special hiking boots, maps, difficult to use GPS devices or heavy backpacks to walk along the Byzantine Road. Still, don’t forget to get your suntan lotion and of course water or even something to eat under the shade of a tree at any point during your hike. Alternatively, finish your walk at one of the taverns in Pródromos, Marpissa or Pisso Livádi. The most adventurous can continue towards the hill of Kéfalos to visit the monastery of Ayios Antónios and the ruins of the Venetian castle at the top, later heading to Kalóyeros beach for a refreshing swim.
• You can hike the same route following the opposite direction, from Pródromos to Léfkes, but it will be more of an uphill course.
• As you will notice, there is no litter on the Byzantine Road. Make sure you help it remain so.
Author Vaso Groza
Licenced tourist guide