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Published on 2014-10-26
At an altitude of 1040m., in a panoramic position, is the famous Gardiki, densely populated and the houses literally hanging over the steep ends of Tzoumerka.
The village of Paleochori (Kerasovo) belongs to the same community. Both villages have a population of 200 in the winter, mostly stock-breeders and loggers, rising to 5,000 in the summer. Gardiki is built on the slopes of Mt. Kakarditsa, at a distance of 82 km from Trikala, with a dry and healthy climate. It is surrounded by a 47 million sq.m. fir, ceddar and oak-tree forest, belonging to the community, and watered by the spring of Goura (=Great mouth) in the west.
Gardiki, Giourgia and Paleochori were parts of the kingdom of Athamas in ancient times, the capital being Paleochori, according to tradition. At Rounes there are traces of an ancient settlement, a site where many interesting archeological findings have been excavated in the past.
In the area between Gardiki and Athamania were once the headquarters of Meidanis, the «Kleftis» killed in Gardiki in March of 1700, his head sent to the Sultan as a present.
On the right of Toubana fountain, 300 m over Prophet Elias, lies the ruined chapel of Aghion Anargiron. According to local tradition, every year on the day the chapel celebrated, a dragon snatched a young girl from the feast. The dragon continued to plague the village for years until Panaghia (the Virgin Mary) herself put an end to it, killing the dragon with a huge rock, that can still be seen at the site Tziani. The dragon, trying to escape, pierced the mountain of Pertousa all the way to Armatoliko thus forming Drakotrypa (=dragon's hole). 5 km from Gardiki, near Alexiou Bridge, lies the monastery of Antapodosis Kimiseos tis Theotokon (Assumption of the Virgin) built in 1830 by the Chita brothers, local «Kleftes», and reconstructed in 1842 and 1892. In 1964 it was renovated by the monk loasaf Tsougianis, but today it is unfortunately deserted. It celebrates on August 23rd, with a feast including folk song and dance and "kazanies" offered by the church council.
Notable are the churches of Kimisi tis Theotokou (1700), Aghios Athanasios (1893), Prophet Elias (1913) and the ruined monastery of Aghia Triada (1750) in which some murals are still preserved.
The main event in the village is the four-day feast on August 14-17th in the village square. On August 17th the chorus of the elders, holding candles, sings local folk songs, followed by the re-enactment of a battle, in which the locals who have fought in recent wars partake, holding «glitses» (prodding sticks) and singing the song of the «Eagle's son». The village council offers roast, wine and tsipouro to the elders and the feast, accompanied by a folk music band, goes on till late at night in the village taverns.