A fascinating journey to the northwestern part of Greece, Epirus, full of history, architecture, gastronomy, legends and traditions. Epirus means “continent” in Greek, and there is no better word to describe the diversity and richness of the landscape that literally embraces the imposing mountainous volume of Pindos range.
The heart of Epirus beats in Zagorochoria, a cluster of 46 of small villages scattered on the slopes of Pindos. Houses made of stone and wood, arched bridges, cobbled streets, byzantine churches and monasteries, small squares, traditional tavernas for the most demanding gastronomic expectations will tempt you to explore each one of them!
If Zagorochoria is the heart of Epirus, its spine is indisputably Vikos gorge. Located in the Natural Park of Vikos-Aoos River, it is listed as the world’s deepest canyon in proportion to its width by the Guinness Book of Records. At a certain point it is just 1.100 wide, while reaching the impressive depth of more than 900 m.! Whether you choose to walk the total 15 km. length, or just a part of it, the crossing of Vikos gorge is an experience not to be missed. You will find yourselves captivated by the impressive variety of flora and fauna species, the crystal-clear waters of Voidomatis river, stone bridges, wild flowers and herbs used for their healing properties by local therapists, the so-called “Vikogiatri.”
The mountains of Tymfi and Smolikas are a real challenge for hikers and peak-lovers. The enchanting Dragon Lakes, where tritons find shelter, still inspire legends and fairy tales about dragons that lived on the alpine meadows.
Konitsa, once the core of the ancient kingdom of Molossoi, is one of the most beautiful villages of Zagori and meeting point of three rivers: Aoos, Voidomatis and Sarantaporos. The famous Konitsa stone bridge, Byzantine churches and monasteries, Ottoman buildings, the amazing Aoos River make Konitsa a must-visit for culture and nature lovers, but also for those who want to experience a maximum adrenaline challenge: a Via Ferrata trail, a climbing route that employs steel cables, rungs and ladders. With full safety equipment provided and the guidance of our experienced instructors, even if you have no climbing experience at all, it’s an adventure that you will never forget!
Ioannina, capital of Epirus, built at the banks of lake Pamvotida, was known as the City of Letters and Arts and a thriving economic and commercial center for centuries. The lake and its idyllic island with the monasteries and the Museum of Ali Pasha, the imposing Fortress, notable museums, traditional mansions, Byzantine churches, Ottoman and Jewish monuments compose a mosaic of different cultures and religions, and at the same time a palpitating modern urban center. The nearby Perama Cave is a real miracle of nature, with impressive stalactites and stalagmites resembling sculptural artworks. At a distance of 22 km. south of Ioannina, on the foothills of mount Tomaros, we find the Oracle of Dodoni, the oldest of the ancient world, with one of the largest and best-preserved theatres of antiquity.
Metsovo, climbed at an altitude of 1.160 m., deserves the title of one of the most beautiful villages in Greece. Homeland of traders and distinguished benefactors, it was the core of cultural and economic growth from the Ottoman domination till our days. The Tositsas Folklife Museum, the Averof Gallery, the Averofean Garden, mansions made of stone, churches and monasteries attest its prosperity and cultural glow. Wood and silver artworks, weavings and embroideries, exquisite wine and food prepared by locals, most of them Vlahi or Aromani, who still speak their forefathers’ almost extinguished language, will travel you to the charm of old times. Metsovo’s breathtaking natural setting is ideal for hiking and bike-riding on the famous Brown Bear’s footpath, the Ursa Trail, the idyllic springs of river Aoos and, of course, winter sports in organized ski centers.
20 January 2022