The Foloi oak forest (Greek: Δρυοδάσος Φολόης) is an oak forest in southwestern Greece. It is located in the municipal unit Foloi, Elis, in the western part of the Peloponnese peninsula. The Foloi oak forest is situated at an altitude of 688m, on the plateau of the Foloi mountain. It is an ecosystem unique in the Balkan peninsula and consists of a territory of 9,900 acres (40 km2), which is almost entirely covered by deciduous oaks that form a dense forest area.
The Pholóē oak forest was known to Ancient Greeks, because of its proximity to many of their settlements in the Elis region. The mysterious beauty of the forest inspired them to believe that it was a habitat of centaurs and dryads. They gave the forest the name Pholóē
Foloi oak forest is a designated site under NATURA 2000 that dates back to ancient times. It’s the only flat forest in Greece situated on the boundaries between Elis, Arcadia and Achaia, at an altitude of 600meters. It covers a total surface of 218.000 acres and it consists mainly of broadleaf oaks.
Foloi Oak Forest in Mythology
According to mythology, the forest was named after the Centaur Pholus, who gave roof to his friend, Hercules, on his way to locate the Erymanthian Boar. Pholus offered Hercules a divine wine which excited the rest of the Centaurs who attacked the two friends. During the battle, Pholus was injured by mistake from one of Hercules’ arrows. The hero decided then to name the forest Foloi after his friend.
In antiquity, the plateau of Foloi was covered by a dense plantation; namely, oaks, pines, kermes oaks, strawberry trees etc. as well as wild animals such as wolves, deer, boars, foxes, francolins, woodcocks, and numerous other species. The town of Akroria, Aasion, was situated on the west side of the plateau. The town was completely destroyed by Alarichos in 396 B.C. At the present, a true relic of the past, the oak forest of Filoi with its ancient trees starts in a distance of 15km from the village Lala. Wander into the magnificent forest and admire the breathtaking view to the plain of Alfeios and to the mountains.