SURROUNDING AREA

Thesprotia

The prefecture of Thesprotia is one of the four prefectures of Epirus, which is distinguished by both its incomparable natural beauty and its long and turbulent history. The principality borders on the east with the principality of Ioannina, in the south with Preveza, in the north with Albania and in the west the Ionian Sea. The capital of the prefecture is Igoumenitsa, which has the most important linking port in the north of Greece, as well as being a link to Europe. This makes Igoumenitsa one of the most important trading posts in the country. Igoumenitsa connects to Corfu, Paxos, Patra and all Italian ports, such as Bari, Brindisi, Venice and Ancona by sea.

The area has been occupied since ancient times. Mythology combined with history creating the special identity of Thesprotia.

According to ancient writers Thesprotia makes up the cradle of Hellenism, as the people of Thesprotia are considered descendants of Deucalion and Pyrra, the parents of Hellene, the founder of the Greeks. Greeks then moved from Thesprotia to Thessaly, Fthia and to the rest of Greece.

Also, if the truth of history is covered, up to a point, by the myth, historical sources and archaeological findings document the important course of this mainland region and the significant role it played in Greek History.It is worth mentioning the surrounding area as in ancient times important towns such as Ella, Efira, Toroni, Titani, Fanati etc, flourished.

In addition, it is here that we find two of the most important regions of ancient Greece, Nekromantio and the river Acheron, along which Death led the souls of those who had died to the underworld. This region which is bordered by the narrow imposing ravine which the mountains of Paramythia and Souli form, known as the “Straits of Acheron”, stands out due to its amazing beauty, while the ancient legends and its popular victories add a mysterious charm, which attracts many visitors who want to know more about this special area where earth life combines with the 'underworld'

Visitors to Thesprotia will confirm that nature has endowed this area with unbelievable natural beauty. There are mountainous areas which enchant all visitors with their lush green flora, imposing size, seaside villages which charm everyone with their lacy coastlines and picturesque harbours.It is not accidental that Thesprotia provides an important tourist infrastructure and attracts visitors all round the year. Whenever you visit Igoumenitsa, the capital of the principality, Perdika, a seaside resort, Syvota, a popular resort which is surrounded by four lush green islets, Paramythia, which is distinguished by its traditional Epirus heritage, Sagiada, the picturesque fishing village with its special architectural style, Souli, the glorious and heroic village, and more places, you will not only be surprised by the alternations in the region, but also by the great amount of activities you can develop so that you can have a creative stay in Thesprotia.

The River Acheron (Glyki)

The river Acheron begins in the mountainous regions of the principality of Ioannina, and after a 64 km journey, it flows into the Ionian Sea, creating many ecosystems where many species of flora and fauna survive.

The river crosses the valley which is found in the West o f Epirus, near the village of Trikastro (on the border of the principalities of Ioannina, Preveza and Thesprotia), and enters an impressive ravine between the mountains of Paramythia and Souli. This area, known as the ‘Straits of Acheron’, is a region of important natural beauty and ecological interest. It exits the straits near the village of Glyki.

The river was the passage used by “Death” to lead the souls to the depths of a lake where Hades kingdom was situated. For this reason, Nekromantio at Acheron, the most important region where the souls of the dead and the gods of the underworld were worshipped, and where one could communicate with the dead, was built upon a cave (at the crossing between the river Kokito and Acheron) on the northwest side of the lake.

At many points along the river, the flow of water is calm, forming water holes and small pools, which are ideal habitats for amphibians and sea life.

The river Acheron, at the point of the ‘Straits’ is considered an interesting descent for those who love kayaking (level of difficulty 5). It is also suitable for rafting at its exit from the ‘Straits’, near Glyki, up to the river mouth.

Nekromantio

It is found near the village of Mesopotamos

It is the most famous oracle of the dead of the ancient world. Most findings date back to the prime era of the 3rd and 2nd century BC. There are also findings from the late part of the 4th century and beginning of the 3rd century BC. At the end of the 3rd century BC additions to buildings are noted. The yard was inhabited again in the 1st century BC. Herodotus confirms the use of the sacred place in the 8th century BC which is also confirmed by the idols of Persephone and Neonia of the Odyssey. Several Mycenae shells and a copper sword of Mycenaean type lead to the 13th century BC. The Hellenist temple was bombarded by the Romans in 167 BC. A polygonal rectangular fence surrounds a square ground plan of the building, the main temple. This building is divided by two parallel walls in a central hall and two aisles to the side, which are again divided by walls into three rooms. Under the main room there is an underground room of the same size, chiseled into the rock. Fifteen arches hold up the underground chamber. The building dates back to the end of the 4th and beginning of the 3rd century BC. At the end of the 3rd century BC an extension was made to the west of the original temple, with a yard surrounded by rooms and storerooms

It is worth observing the trilateral structuring of the building which conveyed the murky idea of the underworld. The physical and mental trials during the stay in the dark rooms of the oracle, the isolation, the magical rituals, the prayers and the invocations, the wandering through the dark passageways, the common belief in the appearance of the dead created the suitable mental mood for the worshippers. This was also aided by the special diet to which the worshippers were submitted. The diggings at the top of the rock, from 1953-64 and 1966-7 were done by S I Dakari on behalf of the Archeological Company. Renovation work to the oracle was done during the years 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978.

The Villages of Souli

These are found on the road from Paramythia towards Glyki. Before we reach Glyki we turn left at the sign.

The villages of Souli were an association of villages at the foot of the mountains where the rivers Acheron and Tsangariotiko combine. They were established in the 16th century by people who came from the plains of Epirus. 11 villages were created in total, of which the capital was Souli, with about 12 000 residents.

During the Turkish reign, the people of Souli resisted the attempts of the Sultans and the Pashas to take them over. They were finally defeated in 1803 by Ali Pasha from Iaonnina and they were forced to leave their villages.

Examples of self sacrifice and want of freedom was the bombing of their monastery at Kougi, and the mass sacrifice of the women of Souli at the rock of Zalongo.

The people of Souli returned to their villages in 1820, after their alliance with Ali Pasha against the Sultans. They were also defeated in this battle in 1822 and abandoned their villages for good. Today, only one of the villages, Samoniva, is inhabited by few residents.

Gitani

Situated on the road between Igoumenitsa and Sagiada. As soon as we pass the bridge (dam) over the river Kalama, we turn right at the sign post about 1km southeast.

The second capital of ancient Thesprotia, Gitani has been identified with the settlement which was enclosed in a 300 acre estate and built on the crossing of the rivers Kalpakiotiko and Kalama, very close to the second dam. The settlement, which was established in the second half of the 4th century BC in keeping with the Hippodamion system and flourished in the Hellenist era, was probably destroyed around 167 BC along with other towns in Epirus.

The polygonal walls remain in fairly good condition, while archeological digs have brought to light a gallery within the ancient town, to public buildings, a small temple, private houses as well as part of the stone hollow of the town theatre, which held about 5,500 to 6,000 people. The wealth and luxurious living conditions of the residents is mirrored by the quality of the architecture of the public buildings and the abundance of possessions found.

Dolianis Castle

The castle of Dolianis is found on a naturally fortified hill 85 meters from the river Kalama, between the villages of St George and Pigadoulia. It is preserved by a wall from the post classic Hellenist period, which has been endorsed with rectangular pillars at various times.

The settlement, according to some historians, was once the ancient town of Fanoti. It survived the Roman years, although it was inhabited again during the post Byzantine era, from which many remains have been preserved and are visible even today.

Something particularly interesting is the settlement’s stronghold with its arched gate and two square towers, whilst within this stronghold, ancient and more modern buildings show the continuous habitation of the village from the ancient years onwards.

Giromeri Monastery

The monastery of Giromeri was established at the beginning of the 14th century (from 1310 to 1320), be Nilo the Herechiot, during the prime era of the Despot of Epirus. It was a significant monastic centre and reached its peak in the 16th century, an era during which it had about 300 monks. The mosaics dating back to 1679 are of particular interest.

Since its establishment it was under the control of the ecumenical Patriarchy of Constantinople, as patriarchal and later (18th century) as the See of the Patriarchal Exarchate. 12 villages and the town of Filiates were within its jurisdiction.

In 1800, the monastery became See of the Episcope of Giromeri, part of the Metropolis of Iaonnina, having the same the size and jurisdiction. From that time until 1895, when it was finally abolished, it underwent various changes, sometimes as the See of the Episcope, sometimes as that of the Exarchate. In 1928 a decision was made by the Patriarchy and the monastery was given to the Autonomous Church of Greece and now is within the jurisdiction of the Holy Metropolis of Paramythia, Filiates, Giromeri and Parga.

Finally, the Monastery has offered a great deal to the region of Thesprotia over its long history, taking part in the preservation of the ethnic and religious conscience of the people. The “secret school” is a characteristic example of this. In addition, the Exarchate and the monastery funded some of the schools in the villages of the area.

It is a beautiful monastery built on the slopes of a gorge, with a beautiful view of the lush green forest. It is worth visiting and is situated on the road to Filiates, about 4-5 km before we reach the town where there is a sign leading to the Monastery.

Igoumenitsa

The gates from the West into Greece, with a modern harbor, full of life. It is the capital of Thesprotia, with about 15 000 residents. This is where we find the heart of tourism and nightlife in Thesprotia

 

Sivota

Undoubtedly, this is one of the nicest areas in Greece. Lots of small beaches combine with the green hills and the deep blue sea to form a beautiful region. The main characteristics of Syvota are the small islets close to the coast which anyone can visit by boat. You can even swim to one of these. Syvota is known for its ancient history. The famous battle of Sivota happened here between the people of Corfu and the Corinthians in 433 BC.

To get here, we take the road from Igoumenitsa to Preveza and as soon as we pass Plataria, we turn right.

Sagiada

Sagiada was a very important port because of its location. It is opposite the town of Corfu from which the majority of the Venetian merchandise was transported. Today it is a very picturesque fishing village with beautiful scenery, where you can enjoy the fresh fish at very good prices.






SIGHTS BEYOND THE PREFECTURE OF THESPROTIA

If you like longer journeys, you can also visit:

Parga

It is located 15 km south of Perdika. It is not known for peaceful holidays but is ideal for those who like lots of entertainment, with lots of people, shops and high prices. You can visit Parga’s castle here.

 

 

Zalongo

It is a historical mountainous village, found on the national highway between Igoumenitsa and Ioannina.

On the rock, from which the women of Souli and their children fell to their deaths while running from the troops of Ali Pasha who did not keep his word and hunted down all the people of Souli in December 1803, a monument which symbolizes the dance of Zalongo has been erected. It was sculpted by the Zongolopoulo. The people of Souli began their escape in three groups, one of which had 800 villagers in it and was led by Koutsonika, and headed towards Parga, which was occupied by the Russians. They stopped for a while at Zalongo. To escape persecution by Ali Pasha’s Albanian troops, this group barricaded themselves in the monastery, where they resisted attacks for two days. On the 18th December, a group of 147 people led by Kitso Botsari, managed to break through the stronghold and reach Parga. Those who remained at the monastery were captured, while 7 women and children managed to escape and reach a rock face called Stefani. In order not to fall into the hands of the Albanians, and after throwing their children over the edge of the cliff into the river Acheron, they threw themselves off the same rock whilst dancing, as tradition claims.

On the south slope of Zalongo you can see the ruins of the ancient town of Kassiopi. From findings, it is claimed to have been built in the 4th century BC. It was a strong Hellenist centre which was destroyed along with many other towns by the Roman conquerors.

Paxi – Antipaxi

Paxi is a network of islands and islets, of which the main ones are Paxi and Antipaxi. Both these islands are part of the prefecture of Corfu and form the municipality of Paxos. They are located in the Ionian Sea, south of Corfu (7 miles from Kavos). They are 12 miles from Parga, from where you can visit them and enjoy an interesting excursion. You will find many natural bays, clean beaches, picturesque villages and settlements, as well as interesting geological sights such as caves.

To reach the islands you can travel from Parga, Sivota or Igoumenitsa, which have regular connections. It is also possible to reach the islands form Perdika, only if booked in advance.

You can also visit:

  • The ancient town of Dodoni with its amphitheatre. (near Ioannina)
  • The Ancient Roman town of Nikopoli (Preveza)
  • The villages of Zagori (Ioannina)
  • The lake of Ioannina as well as the Museum of Greek History, with its wax figures by Paul
  • The caves at Perama in Giannena
  • The resort of Metsovo
  • The Gorge and National Park at Vigo- Aoou

Other activities:

  • Horse Riding
  • Rafting
  • Canoeing
  • Paragliding
  • Boating
  • Hiking
  • Water sports
  • Diving

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