The Parnassos National Park actually extends over three prefectures, Fokida, Viotia and Fthiotida, covering 18,400 hectares (184 square kilometres). Snow blankets the park for at least two months, and the region is blessed with rain as well in fall and spring. The forest of Tithorea near the village by the same name offers many caves to explore and interesting geography. Evergreen trees appear at an altitude of 500 meters, giving way to mountain conifers on higher elevations around 800 meters. Oak trees are also present, while at the summit of Liakoura some 2450 meters up there are Greek fir trees and a couple of other species that reinforce the biodiversity of the area.
Birds of prey, including alpine birds and woodpeckers are native to the area, with 38 species of birds protected under legislation. Some birds are considered endangered under the National Red Data List (Coturnix conturnix and Columba oenas), so are some mammals (Spalax leucodon and Dryomis nitedula wingei).
Overall, the site boasts 82 species of invertebrates, many being endemic to the area, and 93 endemic species of plants. Plant species protected under law and designated as ‘Rare’ are numerous:
• Alyssum doerfleri
• Genista parnassica
• Astragalus lacteus
• Seseli parnassicum
• Athamanta densa
• Beta nana
• Silene barbeyana
• Rindera graeca
• Campanula rupicola
• Stachys swainsonii swainsonii
• Poa trichophylla
• Euphorbia orphanidis
• Centaurea musarum
• Abies cephalonica
Photo: Franz Xaver
Many other flowers, herbs and plants are ‘threatened’ or ‘vulnerable’, rendering any adventure in the mountain all the more special. Several vertebrates are also protected by law:
• Dryomys nitedula wingei,
• Sciurus vulgaris,
• Rana dalmatina and Rana graeca,
• Salamandra salamandra,
• Triturus vulgaris and Triturus alpestris
The following invertebrates found in Parnassos are considered as needing help in Europe and/or Greece, designated as either rare or endangered:
• Carcharodus flocciferous
• Iolana iolas
• Styrmonidia w-alba
• Thersmonia thetis
• Parnaasius apollo
• Leptidea duponcheli
• Cyaniris helena
• Hipparchia aristaeus
• Thersmonia thetis
Photo: Zeynel Cebeci
Mammals in the area include the Cape Hare, Eurasian Badger, Eurasian Wild Cat, Red Fox, Red Squirrel and Stone Marten.
The mountains of Fokida
Providing water to Athens, Lake Mornos in Lidoriki is a site to behold. In dryer seasons the submerged old village of Kallio resurfaces magically from the water. Nearby Sykia has a rocky cliff that’s well known by professional climbers around the world.
A particularly verdant area with cedars, plane trees, oak trees, chestnut trees and fir trees can be found in the municipality of Kallieis, at an altitude of 1,100 meters near the village of Athanasios Diakos or Ano Moussounitsa. Springs, ravines, wild animals and unique flowers combine to create a superb biotope. The lower village of Kato Mossounitsa at a height of 900 meters is replete with springs, fir trees on the nearby mountain and a stunning view of the Mornos river and surrounding mountains.
Worth visiting as well is Polidrossos or Souvala, the capital of the Parnassos municipality. The residents originally descended from Apano Souvala (Upper Souvala) after a large earthquake destroyed their village in 1870. Today upper or Pano Souvala offers spectacular hiking opportunities through fir trees, cedars, pines and springs gushing with water, leading eventually to the Parnassos Ski Centre after 8 kilometres. Here’s where nature seekers will find bliss. The Manna spring in the region is particularly well known, so is the Elatos wooden resort village. The Eptastomos bottomless cesspit and the Korkeion Andron caves are part of the natural attractions.
In Lilea (Kato Agoriani) there are two main springs called Kefalovrisa that are refreshing and delightful.
Photo (cover): en.parnassosnp.gr