The village Neraidohori , is a magical place located in the valley of Acheloos river (also called Aspropotamos, that means White River) in Thessaly , right inside the green heart of Pindos . Neraidohori, means village of the fairies, but currently has no fairies at all. Where once was the fairies today is a bridge. But what a bridge… And with a highly heroic name ….
It was clear that even the fairies who may live in the river that day would freeze . The snow had sweep across the whole valley below Neraidohori.
We searched for the bridge , this important monument of rustic architecture of Neraidochori . But before we go, we stepped into a cafe to ask info about how to get down there. The snow was like curdled and we needed solid information, we were not able to move to and fro with such weather.
Uncle Nikos stopped playing cards with his friends and stood up to give us instructions .
“To get to the bridge , you will go down about 2 miles from the village in a passable dirt road, down to the bed of the Kamnaitiko stream, there … there is a new small bridge. Leave your car and continue to the south , you will see the signs. After that you will see the old Veternikou watermill and after about 10 min. you will reach the famous bridge of Neraidochori . They call it also Chatzipetrou bridge, uh .., you understand ? “.
Well, we hardly understood… But it seemed that we looked so deperate and tired that our good man decided to lead us there. Inside the thick, up to the knees, snow …
The old pic up car slewed very much on the dirt, frozen road, the 2 miles seemed to be 20… Eventually we arrived. We walked to the deserted mill , a nice building that was under restoration , and we arrived at the bridge . We admired that, we took some pictures, and heard the roar of the muddy river. It was time to learn its story.
Which story begins from Elati , the nearby cosmopolitan village which is home of the chieftain of the revolution of 1821 Christodoulos Chatzipetros . Chatzipetros was a secretariat of Ali Pasha, the famous ruler of Epirus, but he was initiated in the Filiki Eteria (an organzation for the liberation of Greece from the Turkish rule) and in his turn he introduced in the organization other great fighters like Papathymios Vlahavas, Gatsos , Stournaris and others . Chatzipetros participated in many battles in Peloponnese and in Messolonghi and he was killed during the battle of Phaliro, next to the Greek General Georgios Karaiskakis.
What does those things have to do with the bridge though?
Gousios Chatzipetros, the father of the Greek revolution fighter ChristodoulosChatzipetros , came from Elati village. He was a great shepherd, very wealthy and generous with money, so he built this bridge. It was beautifully looking, solid and well built with nicely cut stones .
According to tradition, the bridge was built during the 18th century ( probably in 1750 ) and is arched. It measures 14.3 opening arc , arc height 7.7 meters and a total length of 30.5 meters. The bridge is also called Smiksis bridge because here two tributaries of Acheloos river, are joined by (“smigoun” in Greece, means joined).
Along with the bridge , the “Chatzipetrou stairs” was built at the same time and money. That was an old, stone paved path which was connecting – along with the bridge – the villages of Aspropotamos (or Acheloos) with the plains of Trikala.
We saw traces of the old cobbled path (the old “Vlachostrata” ) near the bridge . Whatever we can see anyway under half a meter of snow …
“It’s the old Vlachostrata … ” cried Uncle Nic. ” Wanna go ? “
“No, it’s better to wait for the snow to melt … ” my friend and photographer replied.
We agreed nodding the head and started walking to the car. We expected to find hot tea with brandy in the coffee shop.
And a hot wood stove too …
Where am I ?
Neraidohori is one of the most beautiful villages in the valley of Aspropotamos in Trikala prefecture . It is located a few miles after the famous Pertouli village . You can get there by car, via Trikala following the road to Pili and Elati. The main Elati- Pertouli asphalt road will bring you fast in Neraidohori.