The Mountain

Zagori: The place you’ll come back again and again

Nature lovers from all over Europe come to Zagori. Most of them return again and again, while some of them buy an old stone house so as to restore it and stay permanently in a natural paradise. In older times they would construct stone streets or build stone houses, stairs and bridges. Nowadays this is not necessary.  The network connecting the villages is large and time-tested. There are noumerous stone bridges, more that everywhere else in Greece.

There you can find 46 villages of incomparable beauty, drowned in vegetation. Stone is everywhere too, either as a part of the scenery or by human creation. You can barely tell one from the other!

Enjoy this truly amazing scenery, forever changing from East to West, alternating from low hills and plush green forests to bare mountains tops, fierce blue rivers and alpine lakes. A place like no other, where stone meets light, primitive meets beauty and ephemeral meets eternity. Man and nature become One.

Made of stone

In Zagorohoria you’ll find more than 60 traditional, picturesque bridges made of stone. Imagine than in the 19th century they were 150-200!

The construction of every each one was great news for all the residents of Epirus villages. When the bridge had ready, they attended a special celebration. During the celebration they tested the construction. They filled big sacks with stones, loaded them on mules and lead them to the center of the bridge to test if it could stand the weight. It was a huge disgrace for the master builder if the bridge collapsed.

The most important stone bridges nowadays are Plaka Bridge, Papastathis Bridge, Politsa Bridge, Plakida Bridge, Konitsa Bridge, Kokoris Bridge, Kaber Aga Bridge and Paltsi Bridge.

A gorgeous gorge

Welcome to a canyon that holds a World Guinness Record! The 24km length Vikos Gorge is one of the largest, deepest and most spectacular gorges in the world. You will be astonished of the great variety and alternation of different ecosystems, a feast of flora and fauna. The Gorge is one of the few remaining wildlife refuges in Europe in almost pristine condition, hosting 133 species of birds and 24 mammals. Yes, you may see a baby bear climbing the rocks next to you!

The best way to see Vikos Gorge is to follow the well-marked trail in the Gorge. It's a six-hour incredible route, suitable for first-timers. Try it! Calm and peaceful and then frightening and exciting, intense and unexpected. In Vikos Gorge you will cover such a broad range of experiences.

Vikos Gorge is an UNESCO geopark since 2010. In Europe all geoparks are 69.

The unknown, wonderful Tzoumerka

The villages in Tzoumerka are jewels of tradition in the nature. Pramanta, Katsanohoria, Sirako, Kalarites. Villages perched on Athamanika Mountains, a part of amazing landscapes that you would love to keep in your memory and in your camera’s memory too. The nature is simply wonderful there. Dozens of rivers, deep gorges, rocks, bare top mountain peaks and wonderful stone bridges.

Pramanta is situated at an altitude of 840 m., at the foot of the imposing peak of Stroggoula, behind which lies the mountain range of Tzoumerka. It’s at the centre of the broader area of Tzoumerka, with a population of approximately 800 residents, which however exceeds 1500 at summertime. It’s the seat of the municipality of North Tzoumerka and now a mountainous holiday resort, as the visitor can find everything there, from hotels, restaurants, bakeries, cafés and nightlife to a modern health centre, pharmacy, a centre of environmental education, gas station, bank, ATM, post-office, police station and schools of all levels. In this traditional village that embraces modern lifestyle, the visitor has access to any kind of information one may need. It is worth visiting the village’s central square, with its centenary plane tree and the famous fountain of Arapis in front of the prestigious church of Saint Paraskevi. The marvelous cave of “Anemotrypa”, the monastery of Saint Paraskevi, the forest of Markopoulos and the fountain of Skala are also places one has to see. Other sights of interest are the traditional watermill at Christoi, the mountain shelters at “Isioma” and Melissourgi, as well as the waterfall of Kefalovriso, the highest of Greece (350 m.), at the nearby village of Melissourgi.

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Kipinas Monastery is one of the most impressive monasteries in Greece. For sure the small church made of wood and stone, built inside a rock will leave you speechless.

The monastery was built about 1212 AD. The road reaches the base of the cliff and then, if you want to go to the monastery, you must follow a path carved into the rock and a wooden bridge.

During Ottoman Empire, the monks raised the wooden bridge to be protected from the raids.

The small church of the monastery is filled with beautiful 17th century frescoes. Visiting Kipinas Monastery is one of the must do things, if you visit Ioannina. It is an experience you will never forget!

The monastery is located in Kalarrites Tzoumerka.

Syrrako was built sometime around the 15th century A.D. and preserves the traditional architecture or Epirus. Stone multi-storey houses, slate roofs, stone-paved streets, carved fountains with running water and the absence of motor vehicles, all contribute in maintaining the traditional color intact. Syrrako has a significant history and is the birthplace of many eminent personalities.

At Tzoumerka, where the water and the rivers are abundant, one has the chance to visit and traverse many stone bridges. These edifices, beside their practical use, constitute the ultimate feat of both architecture and elegance, since they fit in perfectly in the surrounding environment. The most famous among them is that of Plaka, which was constructed in 1866. Its dimensions (61 m. of length and 20 m. of height) make it the largest one-arch stone bridge in the Balkans. It served as the border between Greece and Turkey for over 30 years.

Museum of Contemporary Art “Theodoros Papagiannis”

At the village of Elliniko you can visit the museum of Contemporary Art “Theodoros Papagiannis”. It is housed in the premises of the former primary school. There are exhibited some of the works of the famous sculptor and professor at Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA), Theodoros Papagiannis. His work revolves around subjects such as the human nature, the occupations of the locals, spiritual evolution etc. The materials used for this works were either recyclable, either forgotten or discarded. There are even works made of the embers of the Athens Polytechnic uprising.

Activities

Rafting

Arachtos river’s narrow gorges, vertical slopes, waterfalls, and the possibility of plunging in its fresh water, make it ideal both for beginners and advanced in rafting. The more experienced may test their skills in more difficult descents like that of Kalarritikos, a tributary of Arachtos.

Hiking

There are a lot of mapped hiking routes at Tzoumerka, with special markings, both for advanced and beginners in hiking. Some of them appear on the map.

Canyoning

Canyoning lovers have a high esteem of Tzoumerka. After the panhellenic canoying meeting of 2012 there, more and more of them visit the region for hiking, rappelling or swimming in the gorges of Tzoumerka. The Gate of Paradise is one of those gorges that one can reach by canyoning.

Cycling-4×4-Motor-Biking

The region is ideal for mountain biking, 4×4 driving and on-off motorbikes. One can practice those activities throughout the year, but the most recommended seasons are spring, summer and autumn. The landscape offers a multitude of trails and forest roads, where the visitor can enjoy his favorite extreme sport, in a variety of gradients and terrains.

Climbing-Rappelling

Among of the most fascinating mountain activities are for sure climbing and rappelling. The mountainous complex of Tzoumerka with its unique natural beauty provides the ideal circumstances for climbing throughout the year. Related Projects

Metsovo

The capital of the mountains is Metsovo. It is a historic village with large villas and cobbled streets, built in a beautiful location.

Metsovo has a great history and splendid places to sightsee, such as museums, old churches and monasteries.

It is the ideal place for relaxation, delicious culinary experiences, a base for outdoor action excursions and a popular market of unique local products.

Ski resorts #1: Anilio

The ski resort is located on 1690m - 1870m and has five slopes for every ski lover, amateur or professiona. There are a two seater 800m aerial lift, two new lifts (280m and 300m) and two baby lifts.

Next to the ski resort there is a stone-built chalet with two fireplaces and a beautiful view. You can find a ski rental shop and a ski school in the resort.

INFORMATIONS

Website: anilio-ski.gr

 

Ski resorts #2: Karakoli

The ski resort is located at 1340m - 1520m altitude, just 1.5km away from Metsovo. The cable car is a live piece of history, as it was built in 1968 and operated until today! There are three slopes, 1,100m, 900m and 200m. There is an 800m aerial lift with a capacity of 82, used by skiers and visitors. In Karakoli an artificial track is operational too and a 72m tubing track.

In the ski center there is a chalet with a cafeteria, a bar and a restaurant, a ski school and an equipment rental shop.

 

Ski resorts #3: Profitis Ilias

The ski resort is located on 1.360m - 1.620m altitude, close to Metsovo. The slopes are on hills with magnificent view of the Pindos mountain tops. There are five downhill slopes (two of 1200m, one of 100m, 300m and 150m), a 7km cross-road track, an aerial and three lifts (700m, 250m and 120m).

In the ski resort you can find a chalet with a cafeteria, a bar and a restaurant, a ski school and an equipment rental shop. There is a bus ifnyou want to have a tour in the ski resort.