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Epirus excursion- Day 5....

On the fifth day we walked up on the mountains and actually we reached the height of 1060 meters. There is no limit any more! 

Our destination was Monodendri, one of the 46 scattered villages around Ioannina, the so called Zagorochoria. They are located 41 klms N. of Ioannina. It's a beautiful village, which combines nature and human presence in harmony. That applies to all Zagorochoria.

In the same area there are two National Parks: Vikos- Aos and Valia Calda (which means warm valley).

Monodendri's peak was in the 18th and 19th century, as the monuments reveal and many important personalities of modern Greek history came from this village and they became benefactors of both Greece and place of origin.

The whole village takes you back in time, since everything is contributing to this feeling! The Scholarhion (18th century), the monastery of St. Paraskevi (15th century), the church of St. George, the Girl's school (19th century) represent the traditional architecture of the area.

The jewel and pride of the village is the Rizarios Handicraft School of the 19th century. It was the house of Manthos and Georgios Rizaris, benefactors of the country. The school functioned as an orphanage, where the girls could found a shelter and a hug, while they were learning a handicraft, giving them the chance to survive.

The new school functions since 1979 as a place the traditional weaving and technique of embroidery are taught, but as a guardian of the tradition and history. Of course there are display rooms and a shop where everyone can find out more about all these things.

Epirus has got apart from the Greeks, the Aromanians are an ethnic group native to the southern Balkans and the Sarakatsani, another ethnic Greek population subgroup, who were traditionally transhumant shepherds. 

The Sarakatsani stani (location Guftokampos, 10 klm from Skammeli) is part of a reconstructed Sarakatsani hamlet. Their traditional settlements consist of a group of cooperating houses, generally linked by ties of kinship or marriage. They build the houses in a cluster on flat land close to the pasturage, with supporting structures nearby. This complex is called stani, a term also used to refer to the cooperative group sharing the leased land. It's created and maintained by the Brotherhood of Sarakatsanaioi of Epirus. Since 1979 they organise in early August a nationwide meeting with lots of outdoor activities. Sarakatsani are besides Epirus, in Thessaly, Macedonia and Thrace.

After lunch we drove to Tsepelovo, 51 klm from Ioannina, which was the administration center of Zagori since the 18th century. It had a strong economy due to the trade of timber. Lots of buildings show us the wealth of these so long gone eras. Among the known personalities of this village was the famous greek actress Marika Kotopouli. 

We visited and two of the many stone bridges of the area, the only connection for the people to the rest of the world. The last one was the Bridge of Kokkori of the 18th century, of 37 m. length.

After a fulfilling day we returned back to Ioannina, our base. And our trip still continues...
Πανελλήνια Ομοσπονδία Ξεναγών Παγκόσμια Ομοσπονδίας Ξεναγών (W.F.T.G.A.) Ευρωπαϊκή Ομοσπονδία Ξεναγών (F.E.G.)

The Association represents its highly qualified members who are certified by the Greek State. They cover a wide range of programs that can satisfy any demand in 28 different languages. According to the Greek Law, only Licensed Tourist Guides are permitted to guide you anywhere.