Acheloos (river)

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Course of the Acheloos river in Greece (modified satellite image from Nasa World Wind)

Course of the Acheloos river in Greece (modified satellite image from Nasa World Wind)

location Epirus , Thessaly , Western Greece ( Greece )
River system Acheloos
source Lakmos
39 ° 40 ′ 36 "  N , 21 ° 9 ′ 56"  E
Source height 2000  m
muzzle Gulf of Patras ( Ionian Sea ) Coordinates: 38 ° 20 ′ 6 "  N , 21 ° 6 ′ 15"  E 38 ° 20 ′ 6 "  N , 21 ° 6 ′ 15"  E
Mouth height m
Height difference 2000 m
Bottom slope 9.2 ‰
length 217 km
Catchment area 6329 km²
Right tributaries Agrafiotis , Karpenisiotis , Trikeriotis , Tavropos
Reservoirs flowed through Stratos Reservoir ,
Sykia Reservoir ,
Mesochora Reservoir ,
Kremasta Reservoir ,
Kastraki Reservoir
Episkopi Bridge

Episkopi Bridge

Templa stone bridge (built 1904)

Templa stone bridge (built 1904)

Acheloos ( Greek Αχελώος ) is the name of the river with the most water in Greece . It is 217 km long, making it the second longest river in Greece after the Aliakmonas . The Acheloos flows through the regions of Epirus , Thessaly and western Greece .

Location and course

The sources of the Acheloos are located on the Lakmos (or Peristeri) mountain of the Pindos Mountains south of Metsovo , northwest of Kalambaka and east of Ioannina in the east of the Epirus region. The location of the springs was already known to Thucydides . In general, the Acheloos flows in a north-south direction. After exiting the coastal plain at Stratos , the river turns to the southwest. Six dams have been built on the Acheloos since the 1960s. After passing the still functionless dams of Mesochora and Sykia , the Acheloos in the relatively small reservoir of Avlaki, the huge Kremasta reservoir as well as the Kastrakiou reservoir and Stratos reservoir is used for energy generation and irrigation. The tributaries Agrafiotis , Tavropos and Trikeriotis flow into the Kremasta reservoir today. The Inachos tributary flows into the Kastrakiou reservoir. In the Agrinio plain there is another tributary ( kyathos ) from Lake Lysimachia and Lake Trichonida (Lake Konope in ancient times ). At Konope there is a ford through the river. The estuary delta (Paracheloitis) is located south of the ruins of Oiniadai in the area of ​​the city of Mesolongi , not far from the entrance to the Gulf of Patras , opposite the island of Kefalonia . Here the river flows into the Ionian Sea .

The Acheloos has a catchment area of 6329 km², which is divided into three parts from north to south in the course of the Acheloos: the upper catchment area includes the sources of the Acheloos and its upper reaches and has an area of ​​1100 km². The middle catchment area with a total of three reservoirs plus Lake Tavropos covers 3250 km² and the lower catchment area from the Stratos reservoir covers 1979 km². The lower catchment area includes the natural lakes Trichonida, Lysimachia, Amvrakia and Ozeros .

The plain at its mouth owes its creation to its alluvial surface. Over time, the delta silted up so much that some of the earlier Echinaden Islands silted up. The river is navigable to Stratos (or Stratos reservoir). Today it is largely channeled. The Acheloos delta covers an area of ​​300 km².

Water management on the Acheloos

The middle and lower reaches of the Acheloos are heavily used for water management with a total of four reservoirs. The discharge regime of the upper reaches - apart from a few spatially limited interventions - was largely retained originally. Plans to use the water of the Acheloos above the Kremasta reservoir have existed since the 1930s. In the 1980s, plans became concrete to transfer the water of the Acheloos into the Thessalian plain by means of a series of reservoirs and pressure tunnels. In addition to the generation of energy, the main goal was to compensate for the water shortage in Thessaly caused by the intensive irrigation of cotton . By means of two dams, the Acheloos would be dammed over many kilometers and massive amounts of water would be withdrawn from the river on the following stretch.

The 150 m high Mesochora Dam was built between 1996 and 2001, but like the associated hydropower plant has not been put into operation to this day. The reservoir is not filled, in the area of ​​the projected reservoir there are still inhabited settlements. In the course of the construction of the dam, the Trikala - Arta road was rebuilt. This crosses the Acheloos over the dam and on the following stretch runs largely in tunnels before it leaves the valley at Kapsala.

The 165 m high Sykia Dam is located about 35 km downstream in the area of ​​the mouth of the Petriliotis . Construction of the dam began in 2005, and in 2010 the Greek State Council , the highest administrative court, ordered the immediate stop of all construction work. This decision affects all components of the irrigation project.

In January 2014, the State Council finally decided not to pursue the irrigation project any further. Nature and bird conservationists celebrated the award as a decisive turning point in the fight for the water of the Acheloos and direct the focus of their work on the renaturation of the resulting environmental damage. The sponsor of the project, Dimosia Epichirisi Ilektrismou , which is majority-owned by the state , is striving to solve the Mesochora Dam from the disused irrigation project. The aim is an assessment of the dam that is independent of the overall project, which results in an operational release.


Its original name was Thoas . At least since Herodotus he was called Achelōos ( Ἀχελῷος ). One can also find the name Inachos , which describes the entire course of the river and sometimes only the upper reaches as the tributary of the Acheloos. In the Middle Ages it was called Aspropotamos ( Greek Ασπροπόταμος , white river '), today it is called Acheloos again .

Even if the Acheloos is seen as the border river between the ancient landscapes of Aetolia and Acarnania , it seldom held this function in practice. It was not until the Roman Empire that the river became more permanent on the border between the provinces of Epirus and Achaia .


The Aristotle catfish ( Silurus aristotelis ) is endemic to the Acheloos .

Other meanings

For the ancient deity Acheloos , worshiped by the Greeks as the personification of this river, see its article.

Web links

Commons : Acheloos  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Dr. Nikolaos Skoulikidis, Nikolaos P. Nikolaidis: Acheloos River Basin - Greece. Inland and Marine Waters & Soil and Waste Units, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, European Commission, Joint Research Center, 21020-Ispra, Italy.
  2. An old myth becomes a victory for nature. (No longer available online.) WWF Hellas, January 22, 2014, archived from the original on November 29, 2014 ; accessed on August 14, 2014 .
  3. REG - Public Power Corp - Half Yearly Report of PPC SA DEHr.AT - Part 5 ( Memento from November 18, 2014 in the web archive )
  4. Herodotus 2:10.