January 26, 2021
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First indications of human dwelling in the prefecture of Ioannina are dated since the Middle Palaeolithic age, while there are also several proofs indicating human activities during the age of Coper. It is believed that by then Dodoni used to be a worshiping place, where initially it was worshiped the Great Godess, godess of fertility and fruitfulness, who in later times has been substituted by the worship of Zeus of Dodoni. In 168 B.C. Epirus was conquered by the Romans. During the first Christianity period the region was included in the Roman province of Palaea Epirus with capital Nikopolis. In 1204 Ioannina was the most considerable city of the Dominion of Epirus second after Arta. During this period in the small Island of the lake Pamvotida they were founded the first monasteries. In 1430 the people of Ioannina were dominated by the Turks securing social, economical and ecclessiastical priviledges. The region achieved many accomplishments and its peak time of development was after the 17th century and in the time of the dominion of Ali-pasha. It was liberated in 1913. During the German occupation many villages of Ioannina were set on fire. Ioannina, built in the banks of the lake Pamvotida, is a picturesque city. In the waters of the lake are alive the legends of Ali-pasha and Kyra-Frossyni while in the picturesque narrow streets of the castle memories of the byzantine past and modern history as well are dominating. The castle is built in a small peninsula emerging from the lake. Inside the wall there are two acropoles. In the north-eastern acropole, where the palaces of the byzantine rulers of the city, today it is situated at the top of it the mosque of Aslan pasha. The second acropole, known as Its-Kale, namely inner castle, is found in the south-eastern side of the castle. In the middle it is located the Byzantine Museum and to the left side of the museum it is the mosque Fetihie and the tomb of Ali-pasha. In the Island of the lake Pamvotida with the picturesque narrow streets there are the remarkable monasteries of Philanthropinon, Stratigopoulou or Ntiliou, Eleoussa, St. John Prodromos and St. Panteleimona, most of them built by members of emminent byzantine families. In a distance of 4 km. from the city of Ioannina, in the village Perama it is situated the homonym cavern, one of the most considerable of Balkan, with wonderful stalactites and stalagmides and labyrinth like passages. Among Ioannina, Metsovo and Konitsa there are situated 46 traditional villages distributed to the eastern, middle and western Zagori. They are spread in the mountains, full of pines, firs, crystal waters, picturesque stone-brdges, beautiful churches. They are wonderful having interesting architectural characteristics. For the protection of the rare fauna and flora of Epirus and the magnificent natural landscapes it has been created the National Forest Vikos-Aoos including the ravine of Vikos, the gorge of the river Aoos and an intermdetiate region where the villages mikro Papigo and Big Papigo are located. In the central Zagori, north of Ioannina, many villages have been declared preserved settlements. Ano and Kato Pedina have rich cultural tradition and remarkable churches. Vitsa is a village with marvellous churches as Aghii Pantes and St. Nicholas, while in the very picturesque Monodentri with the stone-paved streets and the beautiful mansions it is worthwhile to visit the monastery of St.Paraskevi (1412 A.D.), built in the edge of the ravine of Vikos. In the entry of the village there is a path leading to the ravine which can be crossed on foot by those enduring its passage (5 hours as far as the sources of Voidomati) enjoying the unique beauty of the landscape. Also, in central Zagori you will meet some other villages as Dilofo with its picturesque narrow streets, Elati, Aspraggeli, Kipi with its marvellous Popular Art Museum, Negades with the famous three-parts church of 1792 dedicated to St.Demetrius, St. George and St. Triada. Also, Tsepelovo with the historic monastery of St. John Rogobos built in 1050, Skamneli-many houses of which have wonderful popular art paintings of 18 and 19th century, as well as Elafotopos. Koukouli with the collection of rare plants of Kostas Lazarides and Kapessovo with the famous Paschalaea School. Here it is to be found one of the four copies of Charta of Rigas. Eastern Zagori includes the area located north eastern of Ioannina, to the left of the road leading to Metsovo where you will meet the stone bridge of Kamberaya and the villages Tristeno, Greveniti, Flambourari, Vovoussa. Western Zagori is a group of villages to the northwest of Ioannina. Aristi is situated close to Voidomati and the green valley crossing the ravine of Vikos. Near Aristi it is the village Vikos where a stone staircase leads to the sources of Voidomati in the ravine of Vikos. Going down from Aristi and near Voidomatis, to the left, a road leads to the impressive monastery of Spiliotissa, while passing the crystal waters of Voidomatis the imposing landscape with the plane-trees will impress you with its gorgeous beauty. Going up the road, in a distance of 13 km. from Aristi, you are in the road leading to Megalo Papigo, one of the most interesting villages with stone-paved narrow streets and remarkable churches. Facing it there is Astraka with the marvellous Mikro Papigo and the village Kleidonia. Between Small and Megalo Papigo a river passes through forming small natural lakes among the rocks where the people of the villages go for swimming. In the region you will admire the towers of Papigo that is a series of steep rocks emerging over the two villages and the top of Tymphi (Gamila). From Mikro Papigo as far as the shelter of Astraka the distance is three hours on foot and it takes about one more hour to reach Drakolimni a region of special interest due to its fauna and flora. Visiting Zagorohoria you will have unforgettable remembrances of this marvellous and enchanting region of Continental Greece.
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