PARGA (Small town) EPIRUS
Parga this divine land, attracted the attention of gods and daemons.
The icon of Mother Mary along with the multiple memories of fleeing the settlement of Paleoparga, situated at the facing mountain called Petzovolio, to the cave outside the castle, convinced the inhabitants to settle on the rock, where today the castle stands.
Loved by the virgin Mary, and earlier by Mars, the period of her free life will end on the 15th of April 1819.
Archeological finds, written scripts of the past and legend confirm that human activity was present in this region from antiquity.
The Neolithic flint stone that was found in an olive plantation, the domed shaped Minoan grave found on the property of Souida, the ancient wall segment found outside the grounds of the Venetian castle along with a foundation stone which constituted part of an ancient dock on the western side of Valtos bay, which unfortunately was covered by rocks to build a marina, the rectangular shaped graves on the road close to Anthousa, all undoubtedly prove the existence of human civilization in the region throughout antiquity.
Byzantine sources first refer to Parga in 1337 and most likely refer to the older settlement of the castle and not Paleoparga at Petzovolio. The settlement at its new position will have to deal this many perils during the passing of time.
For six years Parga will have to endure the rule of the thief Bogoi (who considered himself as of Alban - Serbian - Boulgarian - Vlahos decent). When he leaves he will request the protection of the Venetians. Their presence will be felt between the 15th and 18th centuries. Throughout this period Parga will be autonomous.
The raids and looting from land and sea will not cease during this period. Hairetin Varvarosa will be one of those who will loot her.
The situation stabilizes from the late 16th century to the late 18th century. Parga develops economically, and becomes a trade center. The old customs office (Dogana) at Valtos still exists up to this day. Dogana also served as a shelter and outpost for the 'kleftes' (rebels who fought against the rule of the Ottoman Empire). The water fountain and the house of Boukovala, along with the well of Androutso bear whiteness to this.
Parga will also stand by the fighters of Souli, as a result feel threatened by Ali Pasha. During this period of growth, Parga will be visited by Kosmas Etolos. As a result education will flourish. To name a few of the important educators of the time: Filotheos the Holy Monk, Andreas Idromenos, Christoforos Peraikos and Agapios Leonardo, etc.
In 1797 Venetian Rule is abolished by the French. With the treaty of "the 5th December 1815" Parga is passed over to Ali Pasha of the Ottoman Empire with the consent of the English who were protecting her at the time.
A significant time in history the period 1816 - 1819 with the endless negotiations for compensation of the properties for those who decided to abandon their homeland for Corfu. With the dramatic climax on Good Friday the 15th April 1819, when they burn their dead before they leave for Corfu.
Ali Pasha brings Laliotes Turks and Christians from the center of Epirus to inhabit the almost deserted settlement. However the original inhabitants will return gradually to their homeland, up until February 1913 when Turkish rule ends.
Built on the fortress rock of the castle, and protected by the Petzovolio range from the northwest, from the late Byzantium era to our days Parga flourished.
To the west the Bay of Valtos stretches out with its golden sandy beaches which lead to cape Cheladio where to this day one can see the ruins of the Monastery of Vlachernon (or St Vlacherna as referred to by the locals).
The sandy beach of Valtos continues all the way to Anthousa. In its path it passes through the fertile plains overgrown with olive and other fruit trees.
When times were safe. The insane ownership laws of the castle drove the inhabitants to extend the settlement outside the walls around the Turkish bazaar to the southeastern side all the way up to Krioneri.
This is Parga today. She reveals herself to the visitor like a painting. This is more so if one visits the corner of Karidi or the bend of Lithitsa, or when one goes sight seeing on the ring road.
The architecture resembles that of the Ionian islands and is unlike that of mainland Epirus. The small houses have very little room for gardens. Locals though like to have plants in their small yards, flower beds or pots.
One enjoys to stroll upward through the small and narrow roads flooded with the scent of jasmine. As an old folk song says "....on the upward wall to Parga, cinnamon and carnations decorate all...". To the north the endless dense olive plantations. On the other side, the countless boulders in the sea, strange water symphonies can be heard by the crashing waves.
It is worth while seeing the scenery of the sea. From the north you pass the imposing rock boat, the frightening Frangopidima, and St Sostis the Protector, resembling an odd umbrella over the Sarakiniko. From the south side passing Chagiopoulo, Monolitho and Pogonia, Skembi and Prioni, the vast pebble beach of Lichnos with its small caves, to end up at the closed bay of St Giannaki with the natural spring water bubbling at its center. This will be a unique experience.
Rich in her history and beauty Parga does not need the compliments of Homer to make her known. Perhaps his words will be out shadowed by her beauty.
The chronographer Pavlos Palaiologos wrote after visiting in 1964, "I can't recall meeting such beauty in such small scale. All is magical. Don't be afraid to exaggerate when talking about Parga. Whatever you say it will never be enough to describe her beauty. In a beauty contest she would certainly win first prize" .
This text is cited June 2003 from the Municipality of Parga URL below, which contains images.
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