The region - Epirus

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Zagori, Konitsa
and the surroundings
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sites and monuments
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The nature
of Epirus

The historical evidence on human presence take us back to about 38.000 years B.C. for this area of north-western Greece, called Epirus. The term "EPIRUS" designates in Greek the meaning of infinite; the region is considered the homeland of the Greek race of "Selli".

The Prefecture of Ioannina covers an area of 4.990 square kilometers, in a unique environment that gave birth to a very special civilization. The largest part is covered by mountains, part of the Pindos mountain range. Not far from the city of Ioannina, on the north, one can find the group of villages of Zagori and Konitsa, both of exceptional natural beauty.

A great area is covered by thick forests composed by larches, pine-barrens, oak trees, beeches, chestnuts, maples and firs, surrounded by astonishing landscapes, shows a noteworthy variety for this relatively small region. One can see imposing mountains and picturesque valleys, crossed by torrents, as well as beautiful waterfalls and streams. Rocks as tall as towers and breathtaking canyons appear at every turn of the road, canyons that get steeper and deeper.

The National Park of Vikos - Aoos, located at the northwestern side of the Pindos mountain complex, includes the Vikos canyon, considered to be the biggest and deepest in Europe. The Aoos river valley, situated between the Smolikas and Timfi mountain complexes is also of exceptional beauty. The traditional houses of Zagori and Konitsa are perfectly and harmoniously incorporated in the stone morphology of the region; giving the visitor the impression that they have always been part of the landscape.

Following the small paths one can find wild flowers, numerous indigenous plants, a great variety of wide-leave trees and a rich animal life. Animals included mammals, such as the brown bear, the lynx, wild goat and fox as well as 80 different sorts of birds such as the golden eagle and the black woodpecker that have practically disappeared elsewhere. Close to Metsovo, around the borders of the region of Epirus with those of Western Macedonia, one can find the famous "Vallia Calda" and landscapes of exceptional beauty such as that of "Arkoudorema".

When it comes to the architecture, stone which one can find everywhere, is widely used for all types of constructions. A piece of this "love affair" with stone are the famous single-arch and multi-arched stone bridges of Zagori and Konitsa. They are samples of an unrepeatable traditional popular architecture that has blossomed in those areas during the 18th and the 19th century, when those bridges constituted the only means of passage for the inhabitants, the animals and the trade towards Thessaly and the rest of Greece.

The stone staircase of Vradeto (1.144 stairs) near Kapessovo is a stone, snake shaped path that climbs on a practically vertical cliff, joining the Vradeto village to the rest of the civilization. The regional road got there after 1960.

The prefecture of Ioannina, and Epirus in general, is a place rich of admirable ancient sites that one can visit, such as the famous oracle of Dodoni, the oldest in Ancient Greece. Excavations have established that it has been used as early as the copper age (2600 - 1100 B.C.) until the end of the 4th century AC, when the worship of Christ has succeeded that of Zeus. People used to believe until the 5th century B.C. that the sacred oak tree was the home of the holly couple, Zeus and Dioni.

One can find, close to the delta formed by rivers Acheron and Kokitos, the Nekiomandio (oracle of the dead), considered unique in the Mediterranean. Inhabitants of the region and visitors used to communicate there with the souls of their beloved and dead relatives. According to the Greek mythology Haros used to collect the dead in the awesome "Aherousia" lake and carried them with his boat to the Kingdom of Pluto and Persephoni. He was paid for the this transport by removing from the mouth of the dead a coin, called "ovolos", placed there by the relatives of the dead. One can still find, even today, traces of this tradition in Epirus.

Close to Preveza one can find the ancient sites of Nikopolis and Kassopi. Nikopolis (the city of the victory), with Roman and ancient Christian memories, was a city built by Octavianus Augustus after his big naval victory in Action against Antonius and Cleopatra.  Kassopi. is a typical example of the urbanization of a small ancient Greek city and it is located in a strategic, for those times, geographic location, facing the Ionian sea.

Many rivers have their springs in Epirus, such as Aheloos, Arahthos, Aliakmon, Sarandaporos, Voidomatis, Kalamas, Louros and Acheron, heading northwest, east or southwest of the region.  One can find lakes, such as lake "Pamvotis" of Ioannina (with a beautiful island in the middle), the lake at Aoos river springs, the Zaravina lake and at an altitude of 2.000 meters the two famous "Drakolimnes" (dragon lakes) of Mt. Smolika and Mt. Timfi.

Epirus has plenty of Byzantine and post-Byzantine monasteries and churches. The small monastic city of the island of the lake of Ioannina is a fine example of civilization, traditions and legends of other times. At a distance of 135 kilometers from the city of Ioannina one can visit Meteora, with monasteries located on enormous pieces of rock, still functioning today, monuments of the world cultural heritage.

Finally the visitor can reach, at a mean distance of just about 90 kilometers by road, superb beaches on the Ionian sea, such as Syvota, Karavostasi, Parga, Lygia, and Kastrosykia.

Other interesting addresses on the Internet about Epirus:

1 Noti Botsari St., IOANNINA
Tel. +30 26510.25856-9
Fax +30 26510.74034

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