Mount Ainos of Kefalonia

Kefalonia Mount Ainos

The highest mountain on Kefalonia, Ainos, extends like a spinal cord through the southern part of island. It has a total lenght of 10 km and its highes peak is Mount Soros, at 1628m. Mount Roudi is an extension of this range to the north-west, the highest peak being Yioutari, which rises to 1125m.

There are many popular traditions associated with the highest mountain on Kefalonia. The best known is the legend of the dragon of Ainos, Loukissas, which was believed by locals to live amongst the enormous grey rocks of the mountain. A depression in a huge rock was said to have been the imprint of its head, made as it lay there in wait for its victims.

In 1962 Mount Ainos was declared a National Park by the Greek state. The forested area of the range now covers an area of 2826 hectares. The larger part of Mount Ainos is given over exclusively to the unique Cephalonia pine (Abies cephalonica), with its straight trunk, its rich pyramid-shaped foliage and its characteristic pine needles. The species retains its purity on Kefalonia since it is protected by the isolation of the island.
In Mount Roudi, by contrast, there are a large number of deciduous and broad-leafed trees and shrubs, in addition to the Cephalonia pine. On the slopes of the national park, especially on Mount Roudi, can be seen holm oak, arbutus, carob, lentisk and shrubs such as heather, thyme, amaranth and many others.

The forest flora also includes many species of wild flowers and mushrooms, and its fauna consists of various species of reptiles, bird such as the woodpecker, blackbird and hawk, as well as mammals. These include the horses of Ainos, a species unfortunately threatened with extinction. They belong to the genus of the Pindos horse and are small, strong and have a great powers of endurance. They live in the area of the Zoodochos Pygi monastery, which stands amongst the south-east peaks of Mount Ainos, near the only source of water on the mountain.