EPIRUS (Region) GREECE - Greek Travel Pages


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  Epirus occupies the N.W. corner of the Greek peninsula, to the South of Albania and is the most mountainous region in Greece. The skyline of the Pindus range forms the natural eastern boundary of the area, separating it from but also linking it with other sections of the country. Beyond the Pindus range lie scores of other large and small mountains, scattered all over the district and leaving only very few plains. To the West stretches the vast expanse of the Ionian Sea with its attractive beaches, lagoons, and river estuaries where thousands of waterfowl thrive.
  Although large portions of Epirus have suffered denudation at the hands of mankind, others remain thickly wooded. In fact, some of the largest and most beautiful forests in Greece are to be found in Epirus. The Black Pine (Pinus Nigra) is predominant as well as dessiduous trees, such as beech and oak, while the higher peaks are clad in the famous Rombola tree, a form of pine peculiar to the Balkan peninsula. The variety of wild flowers which grow in Epirus runs into thousands. Some are quite impressive in appearance, such as the Lilium Candidum or Wild Virgin Lilly as it is called in Greek, the Albanian Lilly the "Poet's Narcissus", Ramonda Serbica and many others.
  The fauna is as impressive as the flora and includes, bears, wild boar, wild cat, wild goat and the almost unknown Rissos quadruped plus a number of birds of prey and waterfowl.
  Well preserved traditional settlements in Epirus, in their unique local style, serve as live museums of the recent phases in the area's history, covering the years of Ottoman rule and more recent times. When the Turks overran Epirus in the 15th century, certain mountainous districts managed to ensure for themselves a degree of self-rule. This enabled both their economy and culture to flourish. Architecture, especially, made great strides with the construction of large private mansions, schools, churches, bridges and roads. The arts flourished with a continuation of the genuine Byzantine style of painting, untouched by any western influence. Woodcarving attained a high artistic standard as seen on elaborately carved altar screens which, today, form unique examples of popular culture.
  The outstanding feature of these traditional settlements in Epirus is the local grey stone out of which they are built. It is a form of slate found in successive layers of varying thickness. Quarrying and chiseling it is easy, and it is therefore used, not only for building the walls of houses but also for enclosures, floors, courtyards and roofs. In this manner, an entire village blends in with the surrounding rocks and forests in an unbroken entity.
  During the years of Ottoman rule, the arts and crafts flourished in all forms. Many of the villages such as Sirako, Kalarites, Metsovo, Hionades and the capital, Ioannina itself, grew into noteworthy artistic centres with brisk activity in the establishments of goldsmiths and silversmiths, in gold embroidery, woven fabrics, woodcarving, etc. These traditional arts and crafts have carried through to the present day, especially at Ioannina and Metsovo where several notable mastercraftsmen are to be seen in their workshops.
  On various dates each summer, village fairs are held all over Epirus. A point is made on these occasions to revive and observe old customs, folk dances and folk songs, of which there is an extensive repertoire. The best known celebration is that of Agia Paraskevi (26th July) which takes place at Metsovo. At this celebration, the inhabitants have to dance in their local national costume. For those interested in ancient drama, there are the theatrical presentations during the Dodoni Festival which takes place in the open-air ancient theatre of Dodoni.
(text: G.SFIKAS)
This text (extract) is cited June 2003 from the Greek National Tourism Organization tourist pamphlet (1988).
Photo: © tkachuk / Shutterstock

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Geographical Data

Type of location: Ancient name
Postal Code: -
Longitude: 20o 44' 41.44" E
Latitude: 39o 32' 54.69" N
Area: 9203 km2

Population Census

Year Population
1991 339728
Located at/in/on:
Northwest (NW) edge of: GREECE Country, EUROPE

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