Visit to the Deserted Villages of Kalavryta
Many of the villages of Kalavryta that once buzzed with life are unfortunately almost deserted today. Some of them are now completely deserted and half-ruined, since their residents moved to locations on the plain with a milder climate, closer to the new road networks. However, a visit to these quiet old villages is worth the effort, because they always have a peculiar charm. Three characteristic examples are Dechouni, Paleos Paos and Palia Kouteli.
In the early 1970s, the lowland village of Paos (Kato, or Lower, Paos) was established alongside a fertile plain (the Skoupeikos Plain) by residents of the mountainous settlements of Dechouni, Vesini, and Paos (which was named Paleos Paos, or Old Paos). The new village was built west of the site of the ancient city and acropolis of Paos.
So Dechouni has been a deserted village since 1972. The low-income residents, mainly agricultural workers and livestock farmers, demolished their houses to make new ones in the new village of Paos with the building materials. Saint George (Agios Georgios) Church is one of the few buildings that has remained standing.
Paleos Paos, or Old Paos, is located two kilometers north of the new one and 200 meters higher up. Today, the village is almost deserted, with most of the lovely stone houses in ruins. Only the beautiful churches of Saint John (Agios Ioannis) and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (Kimisis) still remain standing, untouched by time.
Unlike these two deserted villages, today’s Vesini has been upgraded, especially its elegant stone houses, the square, the fountains, and its cobblestone streets. Since 1978, it has been characterized as a model traditional settlement.
The old (Palia) Kouteli is located two kilometers west of the new Kouteli and 120 meters higher (9 kilometers southwest of Kalavryta). Most of its houses are dilapidated and drowned in dense vegetation. One of the few buildings that still stands upright is the magnificent church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (which was built in 1877). However, this also needs restoration, because its impressive structure was not stable or optimal. In 2014, work was being done to provide additional support to the structure.
A very beautiful dirt road heads west from Palia (Old) Kouteli to the outskirts of Erymanthos, passing through a fir-covered area and the wooded Rodea Campground and ending after the village of Manesi on the provincial road from Kalavryta to Patras. The total distance is about 8 kilometers. The rare natural beauty of the fir tree forest is protected by NATURA 2000.