THE TZOUMERKA REGION/SETTLEMENTS
With a view of the imposing Stroggoula peak, built on the rim overlooking the Arachthos Gorge, Ambelochori (formerly Skloupo) with its stone houses stands as a witness to the skill of its craftsmen. The K. Balomenou and D. Alexiou houses stand out as do its threshing fields, Kitsos Watermill and the Politsa Bridge which connected it to the Kastanochoria in older times. Its tsipouro is full of taste and aroma and awaits explorers coming from walks through vineyards and black pine trees though the endless paths of the past, underneath the sycamore in the square .
* settlement, stone houses, threshing fields, tsipouro
Halfway along the road from Chouliarades to Michalitsi, Vaptistis still keeps its watermill running and the stone bridge (at Moutsiara) functional. Both are listed monuments. Vagios gate (1900), the two stone fountains and the well-preserved well of Naste together with the church of St. Nicholas and St. John (1850) bear the mark of the local architecture. From Chalasmata at an altitude of 850 meters one can enjoy a panoramic view of Pramanta, Agnanta and Ambelochori.
* settlement, ecclesiastical ad secular architecture, view.
Between the Peristeriou (2,285 m) and Tzoumerka (2,429 meters) mountains, wedged into the rim over the Kalaritikos Gorge, lie Kalarites at an altitude of 1,200 meters, where they have been since antiquity, i.e., over the axes joining Thessaly with Epirus and the Ionian Sea. The village is well known for its grazing fields. Nomadic cattle raising prevails here. The settlements distinguishing mark is the boutsiko sheep, a breed which is subsidized by the European Union. Once, gold and silversmithing flourished here and specimens can be seen in the Church of St. Nicholas. Currently, these craftsmen have moved their workshops to Ioannina or have become international stars, as Bulgari did. The latter familys abandoned mansion lies next to the Fitrou fountain. As the inhabitants of Kalarites are artistic, they have cultivated fine arts. The work of renowned18th and 19th century artists and hagiographers fill the churches and monasteries of Epirus and Thessaly with their miraculous works.
Kalarites: stone and water. Mansions of Kasaria Fasoula, Kostadima, Bazaki, Parouni, Rafani, threshing fields, Bargianni, Paraschi, Goura. Tzamina, Tsoras and other fountains, all well made, watermills that are full of life and innumerable bridges inside and outside the village, in magical locations, providing shelter to rich and rare flora and fauna. The red Kalaritika trout is a rare breed. This is a protected, traditional settlement with listed monuments that include the Patriotic Association building, the public school and 27 of its 45 bridges. The village has two dancing groups that are active in Ioannina and travel throughout the world winning acclaim at international festivals.
* traditional settlement, cattle raising, artists, hagiographers, fountains, mills, bridges, silvermithing, boutsiko, red trout.
At an altitude of 50 meters overlooking Arachthos, the Tsoukas monastery and laurel forest (from the Dystichima location), Kedros is well known for its many wells, threshing fields (Mariα and the B. Vasiliou domain), dry stone buildings, cobble stoned paths, dry stone and the famous Boutsouras watermill, next to the abandoned Tsimovou stone bridge.
* settlement, wells. threshing fields, watermill, bridge, view.
Hidden by wild gorges, waterfalls and fir trees at an altitude of 1050 meters, Matsouki with its green grazing fields and well fed flocks (11,000 sheep and 1,000 oxen) is an active community the population of which increases tenfold every summer (150 inhabitants in winter, 1500 in summer). It is well known for its meat and dairy products: cheese and kebab. With its listed watermill and gristmill, fountains (Parousou in Elaiodaso, Kalouta at the entrance to the village and Fasoni next to Aghia Paraskevi) and stone bridges, the village has showered love and respect on its Christian monuments (the Velia Monastery and the Church of St. John the Baptist) while it has respectfully housed its treasures in the museum which was established in 2002 by the Viliza Monastery committee.
* settlement, cattle raising, cheese, watermill, gristmill, fountains, bridges, Christian monuments, museum.
One Church (The All Saints' Church) which is a listed monument built over a pre-christian building that was restored in 1836, many wells, one watermill in good condition (at the Milos location), well paved threshing fields, stone fountains and one folkloric collection (tel. 26510 53275) keep alive the memories of stoneworking, a popular craft which flourished in Michalitsi.
* settlement, church, watermill, threshing fields, fountains, bridge.
- Paleochori Sirrakou:
Significant specimens of traditional architecture: fountains (central square, the Trika neighborhood, Ai Giorghi and Agridi), threshing fields (in Aghios Pandeleimonas, Bouniza, Agridi, Aghia Paraskevi and Ai Giorghi) and the listed complex with the watermill, gristmill and loom. There are two excellent spots for views: Kirkos at an altitude of 1,000 meters with a view towards Zagori in clear weather and Tsouma at an altitude of 1,200 meters with a view towards Arta. The terraces which wisely follow the capacities of the ground are also very interesting,
* settlement, traditional architecture, listed mill, view, terraces.
This village has one of the best preserved threshing fields. From the Papagoula threshing field at an altitude of 1060 meters there is an excellent view of Arachthos and the Ioannina basin. The Public School building, Miliggoupolos water mill, stone faucets, well and the stone bridge at Aghios Nicholas all present interest. However, all these are less important to the inhabitants of Petrovouni than their national hero Katsantonis who was the leader of the Kleftes and Armatoli in the 19th century and died as a martyr at the hands of his mortal enemy, the Ali Pasha.
* settlement, traditional architecture, fountains, threshing fields, bridge, view.
From the 1,333 meter high Lapata location within the settlement, one can enjoy a view over the Ioannina basin and the Ambracic Gulf, when the atmosphere is clear. 4 watermills at the Kasimi location, the Mitrou Vasili threshing fields and the Vaggelis fountain tell the history of the settlement.
* settlement, fountain, mills, threshing fields, view,
The most well known of the Tzoumerka craftsmen villages, Pramanta is spread amphitheatrically over the imposing Strouggoula peak (2,107 meters). Nature has been generous with the village and its two communities, Tsopela and Christous, providing both with water and rich vegetation. The water from the Skala and Agathi sources, which is well known for its therapeutic properties, is bottled in Melissourgous. There are two listed water powered monuments: a water and gristmill and loom, one in the village and the other in Christous. Well crafted stonework can be seen throughout the village: the Vourloka, Giannikosta, Stamou, Karakosta, Tsirka and Tsikou houses. The Arapi, Skala, Rogosiou, Malamatenia and Aghia. Paraskevi fountains and another 5 near the central square. The Giorgos Pappas, Vasilis Margaris and Giorgos Antonis wells in Christous. The Seliou, Gouradas, Christon and Smyri bridges. All the above together with the churches of St. Paraskevi and the Virgin Mary are the work of the skilled craftsmen that left their mark throughout the Balkans. Surrounding the village are miracles of nature: the Anemotrypa cave, the Kalaritikos gorge, the breathtaking view from Isoma (altitude 1,350 meters) which also features a welcoming shelter. Pramanta has been inhabited since the Copper Age while in more recent history it is known as a hideout for Kleftes and Armatoli who were very active in society and the revolution. In 1821 George Karaiskakis manned his troops with men from Pramanta and Melissourgos and they fought tirelessly throughout the fight for freedom. Able cattle raisers and tradesmen, the inhabitants of Pramanta nurture the theater. As early as the war years, they had a theater troupe (which included only men) which was then followed by the Proskinio theater group (which included women) directed by the Pramanta Residents Association. This troupe is mainly active in Ioanna and has won numerous awards in contests held throughout Greece.
The Association publishes a newspaper and has a dancing troupe as well.
*Settlement, traditional architecture, fountains, wells, bridges, watermills, cave, history, theater group, newspaper, dance troupe
The Dimoka and Papavasiliou threshing fields outside the village, the Matara, Tsitena, Tzimi, Markou, Soyia and Grekiza fountains and the view over Kalaritiko over Profitis Ilias (altitude 760 meters) and the Ioannina basin and Tzoumerka from Louka at 1,100 meters are the highlights of this Tzoumerka village.
* settlement, fountains threshing fields, view,
14 main communities and 7 smaller ones scattered across the hills overlooking the left bank of the Arachthos, constitute Raftanaioi. This spread out way of living is common in Tzoumerka. The protected settlement located at a height of 9 meters and width of 5 meters, contains important specimens of local ecclesiastical and secular art: the renowned Plaka bridge in the settlement bearing the same name, the Mouchoustiou Monastery (17th century) and its threshing fields, the watermills (in Thiaki and Goura), the fountains and the Koustoula brothers mansion
* protected settlement, bridge, monastery, threshing field, fountains, mansions.
Perched at an altitude of 1,150 meters, Sirrako is one of the best preserved and breathtaking of the communities in Epirus. Established in the 14th century by Vlach speaking cattle raisers, it reached its peak in the 18th century. The entrance to the village is quite imposing, as it is located between two stone bridges and a very well paved road. Two poets, Kostas Kristallis (1868-1894) and George Zalokostas (1805-1858), connect this place with modern Greek literature while a politician, John Koletis, who was the first elected prime minister of Greece, connects it to modern Greek political history.
The church of St. Nicholas, the watermills at the entrance to the village and the breathtaking Chroussia Gorge, the threshing fields and the beautiful mansions are the proof of a once rich settlement that placed a high value on aesthetics. A small museum in the house of the poet Kristallis and the folkloric collection of the dynamic writer Erminia Fotiadou show the love with which natives of Sirrako shower their place of origin and heritage.
The view from Aghios Georgios (altitude 1,200 meters) towards Arachthos and the greater Tzoumerka area is wonderful. Daring mountain climbers will be rewarded when reaching the Tsoukarela peak at 1,300 meters after a 5 hour climb.
Sirrako is the areas third protected settlement (the other two are Kalarites and Raftanaioi). It has an Association which supports a dancing troupe which is active in Ioannina, throughout Greece and abroad. Every 15th of August a reunion of Sirrako natives is held here amidst a three day festival held in the square.
* protected settlement, church, bridges, watermills, museums, view, collections, festivals.
This area has been inhabited since antiquity (4th century fort and tombs). There are many important specimens of local, traditional architecture: 5 well preserved threshing fields with their huts, two watermills, 4 fountains, a well and a unique wire bridge in Arachthos or Lesia. A monastery, St. Paraskevi 18th century, constructed by craftsmen from Goura (now called Vaptisti) on a tree lined hilled near the central square. A wonderful view from Tziri (1,050 meters) and the monastery of Tsouka. A special local event continues its long tradition here each year on September 9th. A two day festival takes place to celebrate the Birth of the Virgin (September 8) and at noon of the second day all participants dance the kangelari or cicles in a circle.
*settlement, ruins, view, threshing fields, fountains, monastery, wire bridge, kangelaris.