[zl_tabs_cell title=”Aspraggeloi” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”]Located 28 km from Ioannina, the first of Zagorochoria and base of the Municipality of Zagori. Its location, at the entrance (next to the church of Our Lady), is ideal as it can be a base for your excursions to other Zagorochoria without spending much time traveling while you can, at any time, to return and relax in your room. Ideal location for those wanting to visit the city of Ioannina and the surrounding attractions, but avoiding the hustle and bustle of the city.
The settlement dates from 1830. It was a rich village in the 19th century. The benefactors built schools, churches and buildings. The village was burned in 1943. In Asprangeloi there are a culture center, shooting and gliding bases. The church has a beautiful stone tower (1915). There are old town walls, old ruins and the old monastery of Dovra.[/zl_tabs_cell]
[zl_tabs_cell title=”Groups of Villages” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”] Zagori, once formed at its current size, is divided into three departments: Eastern, Central and West. This distinction is based on the geographical separation of the region of forests and rivers, the social-cultural factors (Vlachs in Eastern, locals in the Central and Sarakatsani in the West) and economic criteria (Forest East, agricultural land in Central and livestock in West).
This distinction is reflected, to some extent, at the characteristics of homes and settlements of each dividend. By the 17th century, the name Zagori attributed only to the central part. The West was taking its name from Papigo, while the Eastern was in the northern district of Malakasi. Despite their differences, however, these three modules form a single general geographical and cultural whole and a consciousness of unity and common identity.
The oldest nucleus of Zagoria is located in western part (Papingo, Upper and Lower Soudena). By 1380 the settlements were 11 (3 in the East and 8 in the West), while in the next 50 years most of the existing settlements were created and developed. The picture was completed with the villages of East Zagoria, who appeared in the 15th century. All settlements had eras of prosperity and decline during their course over time. Fluctuations was recorded at their number, due to devastating raids, the burning of the East and Central, to some extent, by the Turks (1917) and Germans (1904) or the abandonment of villages by their inhabitants. In 1678, Zagori was composed of 60 villages, 48 in 1788, while from the mid 19th century up to today the villages are 469. [/zl_tabs_cell]
[zl_tabs_cell title=”Natural Environment” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”] Zagori extends between Ioannina, Metsovo and Konitsa and pretty much defined by physical boundaries. North boundary is the river Aoos, while to the south it is separated from the basin of Ioannina by the Mitsikeli mountain. East boundary is Aoos river (northeast) and the mountains of Vassilitsa and Lyggos, while the west boundary is the highway Ioannina – Konitsa.
The natural environment is unique Zagori. Wild beauty, majestic scenery, rapid and crystal clear rivers, spectacular mountains, deep gorges, large forests, peculiar geological formations, alpine lakes, rich flora and fauna, prairies and plateaus at an amazing composition, attract the visitor’s attention. Have a look on the rest of the articles for more information.[/zl_tabs_cell]
[zl_tabs_cell title=”Mountain complexes” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”] Zagorochoria extend in a mountainous area with altitude ranging between 500m and 2.000m. The mountains are part of the mountain complex of northern Pindos, the most impressive mountain of the country. At the center of Zagori there is the mountainous Timfi, with alpine peaks, which sometimes get lost in dense clouds and sometimes rely on imposing limits on land and sky.
On the north side of Tymfi, the Aoos river running down the homonymous ravine while on the west, between this and Stouro (1.364 m) is the Vikow gorge. The formation of Tymfi connects to the backbone of North Pindos with a neck at the east, near the site Gyftokampos. The proud peaks follow each other: Lapatos (2.251m), Astraka (2.436m), Kalogiros (2.112m), Ploskos (2.377m), Gamila (2.497m), Anonymous Peak or Gamila 11 (2.480m), Karteros (2.478m), Megala Litharia (2.467m), Tsouka Rosa (2.377m), Gura (2.466m) etc. These peaks and steep slopes, which often reach 400m vertical height, dominate the northern section, while at the southern more gentle slopes and extensive pastures are present.
The southern limit is formed by Mitsikeli. This is a bare mountain with its the tallest peak at 1.810m. North and across Tymphi rises Smolikas (2.637m), the second highest Greek mountain after the Mount Olympus. Between Smolikas and Tymphi, is the small in size Trapezitsa mountain (2.022m), which is the northern boundary of the Aoos ravine.
East, Vasilitsa mountain (2.249m) and the Lynx complex (mainly Mavrovouni 2.050m.) separate the Zagorohoria from Valia – Calda, while in the Central and Eastern Zagoria we meet the Koukourountzo mountain (1.794m), the Tsouka Rosa – Red Peak (1.987m), Koziakas (1.622m) and other mountains in general lower altitudes.
[zl_tabs_cell title=”Rivers” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”]Two spectacular rivers, Aoos and Voidomatis, carve indelible the Zagori landscape and give it a unique beauty.
Voidomatis waters supply, many times even during the summer months, the Vikos Gorge. The springs are located on the western exit of the Vikos gorge and the top of the canyon Voidomatis, between the villages Vikos and Papigo. There, the Monastery of the Virgin of Vikos exists. You will get there after a course of 45 minutes, if you start from the village of Vikos, or 1.5 hours if you start from Papigo. Voidomatis contributes Aoos southwest of Konitsa in the homonymous valley. The cold and rushing waters (8-12 Celsius) in combination with the composition of rocks from the riverbed, do not allow the growth of microorganisms. Thus, the crystalline Voidomatis are among the few European rivers with potable water. In addition, it hosts the famous for their taste trouts.
Aoos River originates from the mountainous area of Metsovo, the Politsies at the west of Katara neck, and travels about 50 km to get at the valley of Konitsa. Up to Konitsa, because of the height difference, the rapids flow to the north. From there it continues its course northwest, to Molyvdoskepasto. After receiving the waters Voidomatis and before the Greek-Albanian border, the waters of Sarantaporos river, it crosses Albania and reaches the Adriatic Sea, where it flows into.
The area of Zagoria also cross several mountain streams, which, although not constant, are responsible of the heavy folds of the mountain slopes. Among them, two tributaries of Arahthos, Bardas and Zagoritikos.
[zl_tabs_cell title=”Lakes” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”] In the region of Zagoria there are two major lakes, Drakolimni and the artificial Lake of Aoos sources.
The impressive Drakolimni, one of the three alpine lakes of Pindos, at an altitude of 2.100m seems to combine all four seasons, snow, flowers, dried herbs and ripe seeds. It has an area of 5 km², while its depth has not yet been measured. To get to Drakolimni, you will need walking at least 4,5 hours, if you start from Mikro Papigo. If you start from Tsepelovo or Vradeto you will need around 6 hours hiking. From the lodge of Astraka, to get to Drakolimni, you will need about 1,5 hours. When you reach the lake, the breathtaking scenery will compensate you and will make you quickly forget the fatigue of long hours walking. At this waters a rare amphibian, the Alpine newt is living.
In a plateau at the southeastern edge of the area of Zagoria, at an altitude of 1.450m we find the artificial Lake of Aoos sources. The lake was built close to the sources of Aoos, to serve the hydroelectric station at Votonosi. Surrounded by woodland and is accessed from Metsovo and the villages Greveniti and Flabourari.
[zl_tabs_cell title=”Vikos Gorge” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”]The imposing Vikos gorge is one of the largest, deepest and most spectacular gorges in the world. Its length is over 10km, width varies from 200m up to 1,5km and height of walls several hundred meters (up to 1.000m) depending on the location. Water is usually only seasonal, but its bed is filled with huge boulders, smoothed and rounded.
At the northwest, after the villages Vikos and Aristi, the smaller, but equally beautiful canyon of Voidomatis is created, ending at the bridge of Klidonia, while at its southeastern edge the famous Vikaki is formed, which is starts from Tsepelovo and passes next to Kipoi. Beautiful views of the Vikaki you can have from the bridges of Tsepelovo, from St. John Rogovo and Kipoi.
In the middle of its journey, the Vikos gorge meets another canyon, the Mega Lakos, and south with the smaller gorge of Mezaria, that ends at the village Vradeto.
The Vikos gorge with its branches reaches 35km in length. The experience of visitors is unforgettable: rugged beauty, abrupt changes in topography, unusual geological formations, diverse ecosystems, rich flora and fauna.
[zl_tabs_cell title=”The Aoos Ravine” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”]The river Aoos crosses the landscape between Tymphi and Trapezitsa – at the top of Raidovouni (1.977m) – forming an overgrown ravine almost 9 km long and wide from 300m to 2,5km. The lowest altitude of the ravine is 400m (the bridge of Konitsa), while the largest peak corresponds to Gamila (2.497m). The gorge looks like a deep cut in the mountainous northern Pindos, formed by the erosive action of water over thousands of years. In general, the western and eastern parts have long but not steep gradients, while in the middle the canyon narrows, acquiring high and vertical walls (location Monastery Stomiou). Access to the gorge is possible from the arched stone bridge at lower Konitsa.
[zl_tabs_cell title=”History” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”]The first findings of human presence in the area (bone and stone tools) go back to the upper Paleolithic era (1400-8000 BC). Identified in 1987 in a limestone cave at the position Kleidi, on the right bank of Voidomatis and near the Holy Monastery Anargyroi Klidonia. Similar findings have also been identified in other nearby caves and cave Kastritsa on the shores of Lake Ioannina.
The findings by the subsequent seasons are minimal, the most significant of them being the 4 cist tombs at Kalpaki and graves in Kato Pedina and Elafotopos, dating from the Bronze Age (3000-1100 BC), and findings in area of Konitsa, dating to the Iron Age (11th-9th century). The findings of these tombs (gems, beads necklaces, bronze jewelry, weapons, handmade pottery, etc.) show that at the plateaus of Epirus we meet cultural elements of the Mycenaean south from Middle Europe and from neighboring Macedonia.
During the period until the early historic period (9th-4th century BC.), the region is inhabited by small transhumant tribes that are engaged in farming and grouped into larger tribes. Prominent among the tribes were the Molossus, who controlled the pasturage of Zagoria. Several elements of the lifestyle of these tribes have survived and are found in modern nomadic tribes of Pindos, Vlachs and Sarakatsani. The major findings of this period are the settlements identified in Vitsa and Liatovouni hill in the valley of Konitsa. The small settlement located in Vitsa – Genitsari, on the edge of the Vikos gorge is between the villages Vitsa and Monodentri. It was revealed during excavations that began in 1965 and the period of its existence is defined by the 9th until the late 4th century BC. It is the oldest farming settlement which was destroyed by fire.
At the two neighboring cemeteries, pottery, weapons, jewelry and coins, were found, many of which show that the settlement was the summer residence of pastoralists and had developed special relations with the commercial cities which were founded in the Ionian coast. At the settlement traces of Geometric and Classical times were also found.
[zl_tabs_cell title=”Ελληνιστική και Ρωμαϊκή περίοδος” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”]Κατά τους Ελληνιστικούς χρόνους ( 330-167 π.Χ.), και ιδιαίτερα κατά την εποχή του Πύρρου (296-272 π.Χ.), η Ήπειρος θα γνωρίσει μεγάλη ανάπτυξη και θα διαδραματίσει κυρίαρχο ρόλο στην ευρύτερη περιοχή. Σημαντική θα είναι εκείνα τα χρόνια, η ανάπτυξη της κτηνοτροφίας, η οποία είχε ως κύρια βάση της τα πρόβατα και τα βοοειδή της περιοχής. Ειδικές αναφορές σε αυτά έχουν κάνει ο Ησίοδος, ο Πίνδαρος και ο Αριστοτέλης.
Από την εποχή εκείνη, στο δυτικό τμήμα της βόρειας Πίνδου σώζονται τα ερείπια από αρκετές οχυρώσεις. Η πρώτη βρίσκεται στο χωριό Γρεβενίτι, στην ανατολική όχθη του ποταμού Βάρδα, κοντά στη Μονή της Κοίμησης Θεοτόκου Βότσας. Η δεύτερη είναι νοτιοανατολικά από το χωριό Μακρίνο, σε κοντινό λόφο, ο οποίος στα βλάχικα ονομάζεται Κιατρα λ’ Άριε ( Πέτρα του Άρη). Το μεγαλύτερο τμήμα από το τοίχος αυτό ( 3ος αι.) έχει κατολισθήσει στο γειτονικό Ζαγορίτικο ποταμό. Η Τρίτη ( λείψανα ενός κυκλικού και ενός τετράγωνου πύργου, μιας πύλης και δυο πυλίδιων, των αρχών του 3ου αιώνα π.Χ.), έχει εντοπιστεί στην είσοδο του χωριού Σκαμνέλι, κοντά στην Αγία Παρασκευή. Η τέταρτη, η οποία ταυτίζεται μάλλον με μια από τις βασικές οχυρώσεις του Πύρρου ( Castra Pyrrhi, κατά τον Τίτο Λίβιο) στην περιοχή, βρίσκεται στη φυσική οχυρή θέση Καστράκι. Πρόκειται για ένα απόκρημνο ύψωμα πάνω από την Αρίστη και κοντά στον Άγιο Μηνά, που επικοινωνούσε με το ποτάμι με υπόγεια σκάλα. Στη θέση αυτή έχουν διασωθεί δύο οχυρωματικοί περίβολοι, στη νοτιοδυτική πλευρά του λόφου, και τμήματα του τείχους, τα οποία ανάγονται στην Ελληνιστική εποχή και κυρίως, στην περίοδο της Τουρκοκρατίας. Μια Πέμπτη οχύρωση έχει βρεθεί σε λόφο έξω από το χωριό Βοτονόσι, στο πέρασμα της κοιλάδας του Μετσοβίτικου, που οδηγεί από τα Γιάννενα προς τη Θεσσαλία ή τη Μακεδονία μέσω του Μετσόβου. Τέλος, άλλες οχυρωματικές θέσεις υπάρχουν στο χωριό Βίκος (ύψωμα Καστρί), στο Καπέσοβο (ύψωμα Γραδίστα), στον Ελαφότοπο και στους Ασπραγγέλους.
Η Ρωμαϊκή κυριαρχία, που επιβλήθηκε μετά τη μάχη της Πύδνας (168 π.Χ.), επιφύλαξε μια τραγική εξέλιξη για την περιοχή της βορειοδυτικής Πίνδου. Ένα χρόνο μετά, και παρά τις συμφωνίες που είχαν υπογράψει με τους Ρωμαίους 70 ηπειρωτικές πόλεις, ο ύπατος Αιμίλιος Παύλος διέταξε τα ρωμαϊκά στρατεύματα να τις ισοπεδώσουν. Από αυτήν την καταστροφή γλίτωσαν μόνο ορισμένοι περιφερειακοί οικισμοί, κυρίως στη βόρεια Πίνδο, λόγω της φυσικής προστασίας που παρείχε η μορφολογία του εδάφους. Κατά την περίοδο που ακολούθησε, από την οποία σώζονται ελάχιστα ευρήματα, κύρια απασχόληση των κατοίκων που απέμειναν εξακολουθούσε να είναι η κτηνοτροφία και η γεωργία, ενώ κύριο μέλημα των Ρωμαίων στην ευρύτερη περιοχή ήταν η διασφάλιση των οδών επικοινωνίας ανάμεσα στις διάφορες περιοχές της αχανούς Ρωμαϊκής Αυτοκρατορίας.
[zl_tabs_cell title=”Hellenistic and Roman Period” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”]During the Hellenistic period (330-167 BC), and especially during the reign of Pyrros (296-272 BC), Epirus will experience strong growth and will play a dominant role in the region. Important will be those times, the development of farming, which had as its main base of sheep and cattle of the region. Specific references have been made by Hesiod, Pindar and Aristotle.
Since then, at the western part of northern Pindos the ruins of several fortifications are saved. The first is located in the village Greveniti on the east bank of the river Varda, near the Monastery of the Assumption Voutsas. The second is southeast of the village Makrino, a nearby hill, which called on Vlach Kiatra l’Arie (Stone of Mars). The largest section of this wall (third century) has glided at Zagoritikos a nearby river. The third (remains of a circular and a square tower, early 3rd century BC) has been detected at the entrance of Skamneli, near St. Paraskeui. The fourth, which is associated with one of the main fortifications of Pyrros (Castra Pyrrhi, by Titus Livius), is a natural bastion at the region Kastraki. This is a steep hill above Aristi and close to St. Menas, which communicated with the river with underground stairs. Two defensive walls have survived, on the southwest side of the hill, and parts of the walls, which date back to the Hellenistic era and especially during the period of Ottoman rule. A fifth fortification has been found on a hill outside the village Votonosi, over Valley Metsovitikos, leading from Ioannina to Thessaly and Macedonia via Metsovo. Finally, there are other entrenched positions in the village of Vikos, at Kapesovo (Gradista hill) in Elafotopo and Asprangeli.
The Roman domination, imposed after the battle of Pydna (168 BC), reserved a tragic development for the northwest region of Pindos. A year later, despite the agreements that were signed by the Romans in 70 mainland cities, the High Emil Paul commanded the Roman army to destroy them. From that destruction only some regional settlements escaped, mainly in northern Pindos, due to the natural protection provided by the terrain. During the period that followed, main occupation of residents still left was the farming and agriculture, while the main concern of the Romans in the area was secure communications channels between the different regions of the vast Roman Empire.
[zl_tabs_cell title=”Byzantine period (4th-15th centuries AD)” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”]The Early and Middle Byzantine period in the region will be characterized by the passage of various breeds, such as the Visigoths, the Huns, Bulgarians, Slavs and the Normans. Indeed, many Slavic names of the region show that Zagori was not only the victim of Slavic invasions in the 6th century, but habitation location of the Slavic tribes. The presence of Byzantium in this period is evidenced by some fortifications, characteristic is the castle at the entrance of the gorge Aoos, which dates back to the era of Justinian (52 – 565 AD) – and a few Christian churches with mosaics floors with a representative in the region of Zagoria bein the one located in Kalpaki.
According to tradition, works of that era, by the Emperor Constantine IV Pogonatos (7th century), are the three monasteries located along the “vasilikodromos”. Molyvdoskepastos Monastery, at the junction of the rivers Aoos and Sarantaporos, the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Klidonia, and the Virgin Mary Monastery Votsas, between the villages Greveniti and Doliani.
During the late Byzantine period, the area is originally included in the Domain of Epirus, founded by Michail Angello, the illegitimate son of John Angelos Komnenos. In that period the earlier written references to Zagori in a bull of Andronikos II (1321) and the privileges given to the region from the despot ruler Simeon in 1352. Other documents of the period 1326-1361 referr to the foundation of villages such as Papigo, Elafotopos, the Upper and Lower Pedina and Vitsa.
At the time of Epirus Despotate, the ethnic composition of the population changed. The hegemonic families succeeded one another in power, were in possession of large tracts of land and ruled as descendants of the Byzantine emperors. Thus, during the last years of despotate, the discontent of residents to the rulers was strengthened considerably.
In the 14th and 15th century, Zagoria will participate in the conflicts of the rulers of Ioannina against the Albanians local rulers who had settled nearby. Typical were the battles of leaders Izaou Bouantalemonti (1399) and Charles Tokkos (1411) with the Albanian invaders.
[zl_tabs_cell title=”The Turkish Conquest” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”]In 1431, Turkish troops, led by Sinan Pasha, arrived in the area of Malakasio and defeated the inhabitants of East Zagoria, in a battle that took place near Votsa. After the defeat, the residents of 14 villages in Central Zagoria, who also wanted to get rid of the Byzantine government, declared allegiance to the Turks and called for autonomy and self governance.
Sinan Pasha accepted these proposals and signed a treaty ceding such significant benefits to Zagori, which were preserved throughout the Ottoman period, with only small breaks. The locals have taken only one obligation. Instead of taxes, the Sultan would send a specified number of military men who would serve for two months as grooms: the famous “voiniko”.
Fifty years later, the same treaty will join the villages of East Zagoria (Treaty Valide Sultan), and many years later (1681), when the status of privilege was restated, the West Zagori joined.
[zl_tabs_cell title=”The Common of Zagori” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”]In 1670, residents of all villages of Zagoria joined to form a federation, which was called the Common of Zagori (Nochage Zagora). Within its framework they will acquire significant benefits the famous “stouroutia” which will last for two centuries (until 1868). Securing these privileges was based largely on the influence of rich people of Zagori who were in the sultan’s court. The “stouroutia” provided the autonomy and self-government in the region, the absolute freedom to exercise their religious duties, bans Turks in the region and replace voinikou with a poll tax.
The application of privileges and administration of Zagoria those years was the responsibility of the general Proestou (Zagora koizampasi or Vekili of Zagori), elected for a semester or a year from the also elected “by acclamation” agents (vekilides) of villages. The overall provost originally lived in the village, but from 1750 onwards in Ioannina, in a building of the “Common of Zagori” or own (called “stewardship”). He was also responsible for collecting taxes and paying to the fund of the Ottoman Empire, and to hear certain cases (except criminal).
[zl_tabs_cell title=”Emigrants and Prosperity” left_icon=”fa-bell” right_icon=”fa-bolt”]From the late 17th century begins a period of remarkable economic, cultural and spiritual development, and social differentiation, for the villages of Zagoria, which will reach its peak in mid-18th to mid 19th century. The peak, in fact, coincided with the presence of Ali Pasha in Epirus (from 1788 when he took the pashalic of Ioannina, until his death in 1822). The court of Ali Pasha, among others, joined Alex Noutsos from Kapesovo as senior advisor – Prime Minister, the C. and H. Marinoglou, also from Kapesovo as ministers, and Manthos Economou, from Koukouli as private secretary and consultant.
At the boom and prosperity of Zagoria contributed the privileges they had secured from the Turks, connections with the central power and the development of trade within and outside the limits of the Ottoman Empire. Also decisive contribution was made by migration of residents who, because of poor land and the small lot, were forced to migrate.
The migration began after the installation of “voinikidon” abroad and got large dimensions since the second half of the 18th century. The immigrants originally settled in Istanbul and later in Wallachia and Moldova, Serbia, Asia Minor, Russia, Austria and Egypt. Several people from Zagoria excelled in these countries as bankers, merchants, teachers, doctors, diplomats, and had acquired considerable power and large fortunes. They supported through donations their homeland for the establishment or operation of schools and other charitable projects (bridges, streets, fountains, churches, etc.), which changed the face of the settlements. Impressive was the mansions built by those who have returned to homeland.
From 1821 to 1940 during the preparation and development of the Revolution of 1821, several persons will participate in the “Society of Friends” (A. Noutsos M. Rizari, M. Economou, etc.), while some residents will leave to join the liberation struggle. Noteworthy was also the action of I. Vilaras, who led the fundraising for the needs of the revolution. At the same time, Zagori will suffer from conflicts of Ali Pasha and the Sultan’s army.
Zagori will find a way to decline after 1868, when the privileges were abolished. During this period, gangs of bandits began to ravage the area. Due to this, more than 600 families of rulers of Zagoria, who were the main targets of robbers have left their villages. This situation lasted until 1913, when Zagorohoria liberated from the Turks during the Balkan wars. Hereinafter they follow the history of the Greek state.
During World War II, the population of Zagoria fought against the Italian invasion. Exceptionally important was the contribution of women, who carried on their backs the ammunition, other supplies and wounded people under the most difficult circumstances. Later, several villages in East and Central Zagoria will be burned by the Germans, because they offered assistance to rebel groups, while during the Civil War, many villages in the northern Pindos will be devastated.
The depopulation of Zagoria continued in subsequent years, with the most dominant feature being the migration to large urban centers.