Lake Plastira / Plastiras (Λίμνη Πλαστήρα), or Lake Tavropou (Λίμνη Ταυρωπού), as it is officially called, is located at an altitude of 750 metres near the city of Karditsa (Καρδίτσα). Karditsa is the capital of the prefecture of the same name, in the region of Thessaly in Central Greece.
Although it started as an important infrastructure project for the region, today it has developed into a popular tourist destination for all seasons. Many hotels have been built in the area, and there are organised activities for the whole year (such as cycling, hiking, horseback riding, jet skiing, archery, canoeing and of course swimming).
Τhe best time to visit the lake is in the autumn, when nature calms down and prepares for the winter. There is a tranquility and calmness to the colours and the landscape of the lake at this time of year that will truly enchant you.
The history of the lake
Lake Plastira was formed in 1959 with the completion of the dam at the southern end at the beginning of the Tavropos River. The military and politician Nikolaos Plastiras is credited with coming up with the idea for its construction. When he visited his birthplace in 1935 and saw that there had been catastrophic floods in the area, he is reported to have declared, “Here, it will become a lake one day”.
It was funded by money owed by Italy to Greece as war reparations, and a French company was hired to build it. PPC (Power Public Company) now oversees the dam’s administration. Its water is used for the water supply of Karditsa, and for irrigation of the nearby plain. Also, the water is used for electricity generation, as there is a hydroelectric plant in the village of Mitropolis (Μητρόπολης).
The so-called Neraida airfield, which was built on the plateau under the British occupation, existed there before the lake was built. It was here that the first allied plane landed in occupied Greece (August 1943).
Driving around the lake
The best way to explore the Lake Plastira and discover its beauty is by taking a drive around it.
We start our tour from the village of Kalivia (Καλύβια), where the Plastira Lake Information Center is located and provides useful information about tours and activities. Next to the village is the most famous beach of the lake, that of Pezoula (Πεζούλα), where several companies that organise activities have their headquarters. From there, we continue parallel to the lake in the direction of Neochori (Νεοχώρι), a village with significant tourist development. The road from Neochori to the next village, the picturesque Belokomitis (Μπελοκομίτης), departs from the lake’s shores and ascends to an altitude. At this point, the route gives us a unique view of the lake, which is worth stopping and enjoying.
At this point, it is worth mentioning the Botanical Garden of the Neochori, which is an interesting effort to highlight the unique vegetation of the lake and to encourage its protection.
From Belokomitis we continue our upward course until the next stop, the green and picturesque village of Karitsa (Καρίτσα). In the centre of the village, it is worth a stop at the Dolopes (Δόλοπες) tavern. The place has excellent food and a unique view of valley of the Karitsiotis River (Ρέμα Καριτσιώτη). From here, a detour to visit the historic monastery of Panagia Pelekiti (Παναγία Πελεκητή) is almost mandatory. After Karitsa, we turn back and before Belokomitis, we follow the road to the dam of Lake Plastira. At the dam, we find several outdoor shops selling traditional products of the area.
Continuing from the dam and following the road around the lake, we come across the villages of Mouha (Μούχα), Lampero (Λαμπερό), and Agios Athanasios (Άγιος Αθανάσιος). The tour at this point, apart from the wonderful nature, does not have a view of the lake until we reach the impressive beach at Lampero. A few kilometres after the beach, we find the area of Tsardaki (Τσαρδάκι). The same-named tavern is probably the best option for food on the entire lake. Immediately after, we come across the architecturally unique Monastery of Koroni (Μονή Κορώνης).
Nothing stands out throughout the last portion of the road until we reach Kalyvia, where we began. Except if you wish to make a brief diversion and finish your journey at the charming village of Neraida (Νεράιδα). This is the village that once gave its name to the entire area that the lake now occupies. Of course there are other small villages, churches, taverns and natural beauties that you can discover on your own by diverging from the aforesaid itinerary.
A destination to remember
Lake Plastira is a place of special natural beauty where human intervention has respected it to a significant extent. It is a place that every time you visit it is like the first time. After a visit here, your mind will be filled with images and aromas, while the calm of the lake will accompany you for a long time like a sweet piano melody.
Driving among the horses…
An unexpected meeting near Lampero during our tour around the lake
[Music at the top by www.bensound.com / Piano moment by Benjamin Tissot]