Trail 1
Persephone: Katafyki – Papoulia – Fournoi

The trail of Persephone is a 10.9 km circular route where it can be done on foot (about 2 hours and 30 minutes) or by mountain bike. The route passes through the Katafiki gorge, a small gorge with a long history and mythology. The gorge is formed by the mountains Mavrovouni and Asprovouni with their sharp and imposing rocks, witnesses of its long history.
Its name is taken from the word ‘haven ‘ as it was there that the inhabitants of the area found shelter from the invasions of pirates and generally from enemy raids over time. Inside the gorge is the chapel of Saint Nikolas. It was built in 1740, during the Turkish occupation, and its name is a testimony to the abundance of water in the area at that time. On the surrounding rocks, crosses painted by the faithful people can still be seen today. These were signs made to purify the evil demons, which were believed to live in the caves, so that their passage through the gorge would be safe. Today this chapel is a post-Byzantine monument. The historic bridge on the trail that crosses the gorge is from the same period. In later years, the most famous thief of the region, Lygos, lived and hid in the wider area of the gorge, who after his actions hid his prey here. A sacred place for the ancient inhabitants of Ermioni, who believed that here was one of the gates of the underworld, with destination the kingdom of Hades. It is easily discernible in the southern ravine of the gorge at the entrance to the cave of Fourka, as it is called today, a cave associated with important myths of Greek mythology. From this point, on the sharp rock of a two-hundred-metre cliff, Hercules crossed over to the underworld to fulfil the twelfth labour which was the last and most difficult: to capture and carry to the king of Tiryns, Eurystheus, the terrible and formidable Cerberus. A dog with three heads and a tail that ended in a dragon’s head, and who guarded the gates of Hades. Another famous legend says that from there the god Pluto, king of Hades, ascended to the upper world in order to steal the daughter of the goddess Demeter, the beautiful Persephone, to make her his wife. Clearly annoyed at Zeus for allowing this, Demeter decided not to let any seed grow on the earth. Mankind began to be plagued by famine and was in danger of extinction. Then Zeus decided to intervene and reached a compromise with gods. Persephone would now spend one third of the year with her husband Pluto and for the rest she would return to Olympus with her mother. According to one interpretation of this myth, this is how the four seasons of the year were created. When Persephone stays on earth we have spring, summer and autumn. When she leaves for Hades, winter comes.
This trail in ancient times was one of the roads that connected Ermioni with the area of Homer’s Maseta, the present-day Valley. In 1991, associations and residents of the surrounding areas – particularly from the village of Fournoi – fought and prevented the construction of a public road in the area of the gorge. The continuation of the trail crosses a picturesque pine forest and ends at Papoulia. A location with running water suitable for resting. The trail continues to the village of Fournoi from a rural dirt road. Fournoi is one of the most beautiful and picturesque villages of Ermioni with about 370 inhabitants. From Fournoi the trail heads towards Portes. It is the highest point of the trail with beautiful views of the plain of Katafiki and Ermioni. Going down the trail you encounter old olive groves and you end at the entrance of Katafyki The trail of Persephone can alternatively start from the village of Fournoi or from Papoulia.