OLYMPIA

Foloi oak forest

The Foloi oak forest (aka natural wonder) is the only one in the Balkan area, and one of the largest, and oldest, in Europe. This national treasure is located at the southern foot of the Erymanthos mountain range, about 25 kilometres from Ancient Olympia and three hours from Athens. The broadleaved oaks cover an area of 42 km2, at an altitude of 630 metres, where the trees are transformed by the changes of the seasons, offering an enchanting spectacle of colours.

Mythology and modern naming
The forest was named after the centaur Folos who lived there. According to legend, Folos (one of the only two good centaurs) offered refuge to his friend Hercules when he was searching for the Erymanthian boar, provoking the wrath of the other centaurs.
Hercules accidentally killed Folos when they both came under attack by the centaurs, in a tragic ending to the battle.
A sign before the entrance to the forest described the area as "The balcony of Ilia, the place where the centaur Folos lived.”
Its description as a balcony was given by nature lovers because of the stunning view from the edge of the plateau.

Exciting activities and spectacular sights
Included in the European Ecological Network NATURA 2000, this myth-filled plateau is a breathtaking place traversed by the Erymanthos and Sellienta (Ladona) rivers. The flat terrain and easy trails make it ideal for hiking and cycling. If you don’t want to walk, you can still enjoy the natural beauty by car.
A visit to the Environmental Museum of Foloi, should not be omitted as it is not just a place to discover the area’s history but also to get valuable tips about the most beautiful routes in the forest. After all, one of the best routes, the M3 trail, starts from here, heading in the direction of the Erymanthos gorge, against a sublime backdrop of arched stone bridges, dreamy watermills and small caves.
The beautiful eight-km-long Gravata trail can be completed within 2 hours, and is very popular. It owes its name to the 300 ties (gravata) tied to the trees to mark the paths.
Among the many visitors that frequent the forest every year are mushroom pickers enticed by the abundance of the beloved fungus in the area. The nearby mountain villages of Foloi and Koumani are known for their taverns, while at a distance of 12 km, on the slopes of Erymanthos and at an altitude of more than  800 metres, is Lampeia (or Divri), one of the most beautiful villages of the Peloponnese. Its neighbourhoods are located at different altitudes and its traditional houses take visitors back in time.

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