Zagori

The Land of Arced Bridges

The Picturesque Village of Vitsa in Zagori | Photo by: iStock.com | verve231 | 24.11.2017

In the slopes of mountain Pindos, a little further from Ioannina, the historical, political, cultural, educational and economic capital of Epirus [headquarters of the notorious Ottoman Ali Pasas (1744-1822)], some very special Greeks had "nested". They developed a civilization of their own, based on the safety of the inaccessibility of the area, and further of the independence they had secured from the Ottomans. Forty-six villages hanging on the slopes of Pindos, among the mountains Mitsikeli and Tymfi (Gamila), became well known as Zagori (from Za and Gora, which in Slavic means behind the mountain) or Zagorochoria. Monodendri, Ano Pedina, Aristi, Papingo (Mikro and Megalo), Tsepelovo, Kipi, Vitsa, Vovousa ... are only a few of the many heavenly villages. A unique tough landscape of wild beauty, protected from UNESCO, which makes you speechless from the first moment. The rocky surroundings, which nature and time structured for years, cannot be imitated. The special residents, “fermented” from their early ages in freedom, had been familiarized with wild animals and had tamed their fears. The place full of single-arced and multi-arced bridges, water-mills, stone-trails, and rivers, as Aoos and Voidomatis, lakes as that of the mountain Tymfi above Papingo, the Drakolimni (Dragon Lake) (2½ hours trekking), which tell myths and endless stories.

Panagiotis | Shiny Greece

Zagori Map.jpg

Here, the mind travels to caravans of merchants who transferred people and products of the area and supplies for the residents from other areas. Difficult to approach slopes above the Vikos Gorge, that was awarded the Guinness prize for the narrowest and highest opening in the world. The wild flora of 1.750 herbs that have been recorded and the inaccessibility of the area have made it possible for many residents of the Vikos valley to exploit their abilities, for more than two centuries, in sorting and collecting them to cope with illnesses. These practical doctors, who ended up being medical consultants of the Ottoman Sultans, were named vikodoctors. It is being assumed that a vikodoctor was healing the wounds with mold long before the invention of penicillin from Fleming. It is also guessed that much of their knowledge comes from Egypt and many other foreign areas, which were wandered by traveling doctors wearing strange outfits (long hats, etc.) who used passphrases they had invented. This inventive nation that climbed on the eagle nests of Pindos, goes back in time thinking of the future. They enlivened and they still enliven all wreckages of urbanization, of civil war and of the lack of past living and infrastructure conditions. They make them, respecting the value of their cultural heritage, into a unique residential environment, well hidden in a wonderful nature, being protected with passion and delivered to the whole world as a sign of respect to tradition, protection of the natural and architectural environment and realized sustainable consciousness.

The visitors of Zagori are served by the airport of Ioannina (IOA) and the international airport of Thessaloniki (SKG).

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