Festival on Falakro mountain

The riders make a circle around the chapel. They start galloping around it many times. They are holding the icon and keep on yelling.
Photography / Text: Michael Pappas

I climb up the Falakro (bald) mountain, Drama, at an altitude of 2,232 m. It is the highest peak of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. On the way up I figured out where the name comes from. There is not one tree to see around.

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

I meet many locals. They have started a fire next to the chapel and slaughter lambs they brought to offer as a vow for the Holy Spirit celebration.

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael PappasAdult content
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Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael PappasAdult content
Click here to reveal
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

They have brought along supplies in order to cook and spend the night on the mountain. 

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

They gather around the fire where they drink and sing until the morning. 

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

On the following day, they day of the Holy Spirit, they make an early start in the morning from the village of Volax on horses to climb up the mountain.

The local priests leads the way on his horse, holding the church's icon on his hands.

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

The route goes through a picturesque pine tree forest. 

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
 

After about one hour, people stop to rest and for everyone who started on horsebacks from the village to gather.

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

I am following along by car. I have met a local and he gave me a ride. 

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

A couple of hours later, the first riders started to appear. They are the first to reach atop the mountain. 

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

This is a spot where the ones who reached the top will have to wait for the others to go together towards the chapel.

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

It is a chance for the riders, as well as for the horses to rest after a tiresome ascent. 

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

The riders make a circle around the chapel. They start galloping around it many times. They are holding the icon and keep on yelling.

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas

A very special tradition, like its people, nature and place. 

I was amazed by the great participation of young people in the event as well as the number of horses that exist in a single village. Every home must own at least one horse.

I wish I will be able to visit again this place!

Festival on Falakro mountain - Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
Festival on Falakro mountain
Greece. Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Volakas. © Michael Pappas
#tradition #custom #food #culture #horses #mountain #people #travel #religion

Location

Festival on Falakro mountain

Falakro
Volakas, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Greece