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Zagori

Zagori is an area in the Ioannina Prefecture in Epirus, in Northwestern Greece. The word Zagori comes from Slavic, from the proposition Za which means “behind” and the noun gora which means “mountain”. In antiquity its inhabitants were called «Parorei», those living behind the mountains. The Zagori villages-Zagorohoria are scattered on the foot of Pindos Mountain range.

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Geographically speaking, Zagori is formed in the south by Mitsikeli mountain (which raises above the Ioannina lake), in the west by the roadway connecting Ioannina to Konitsa, in the northwest by beautiful Konitsa (through which runs Aoos River), in the north by Aoos valley (the valley between Konitsa and Vassilitsa mountain).

In the northeast by the North Pindos National Park (the unified “Vikos-Aoos” and “Valia Kalda” National Parks), in the east by the artificial lake of Aoos springs and in the southeast by part of Egnatia Road between Metsovo and Arachthos River (the bridge of Baldouma).

Ano Pedina, Agios Minas, Aspraggeli, Vitsa, Dikorfo, Dilofo, Dipotamo, Elati, Elafotopos, Kaloutas, Kato Pedina, Manassis, Mesovouni, Monodendri, Agia Paraskevi, Anthrakitis, Greveniti, Demati, Doliani, Elatochori, Itea, Kavalari, Karies, Kastanonas, Makrino, Petra, Potamia, Tristeno, Flabourari. Papigo, Vradeto, Vrysochori, Iliochori, Kapesovo, Kipoi, Koukouli, Lesta, Leptokarya, Negades, Skamneli, Tsepelovo, Fragades, Vovousa is a complex of the almost 47 villages in Zagori. They are linked by common architectural, cultural and historical elements.

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They are built according to local folklore, in which stone and wood hold a prominent position. During the period of Turkish rule, Zagorohoria manage to gain favor with High Gate, thus establishing autonomous province with important privileges. Prosperity in the area continues with the founding of schools. Traditional medicine flourished in the form of “Vikos’ doctors” who gathered herbs from the gorge. Many Enlightenment scholars, like N. Doukas and Ath. Psalidas came from Zagorohoria.

After the death of Ali Pasha starts the period of decline. Almost all villages have a central square with at least one centenarian plane tree standing in the middle of it. This is where all festivals take place, the biggest event of the year. Local folklore musicians used to entertain the locals and still do. All local dancers gather in a circle with the leading dancer dancing first. Most churches in Zagori date from the 17th century, even though some older archaic foundations survive.

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