Epirus is a land blessed with astonishing variety, outstanding nature, dense mountain peaks and a few of the most charming stone villages and arched bridges a traveler will come throughout, whereas journeying via mainland Greece. Each nice journey story begins with escaping the crowds, and following the paths much less traveled, – as these are sometimes the roads that can grant you with essentially the most rewarding journey experiences.
On the farthest finish of Epirus area, lies the quaint city of Konitsa, actually steps away from the Albanian border, constructed amphitheatrically on the slopes of Mount Trapezitsa (Pindus mountain vary) proper have been the wonderful river Aoos meets the crystal clear Voidomatis and the Sarandaporos (flowing in northwestern Greece and southern Albania).
As soon as upon a time, borders right here have been nonexistent as shepherds would freely roam the mountains on the lookout for greener pastures for his or her flock. At this time the borders are merely divided by the rivers, and all one can see is wonderful land, limitless peaks whereas inhaling refreshing mountainous air.
Konitsa usually dubbed because the Greek Alps, certainly affords its guests bountiful alternatives to attach with nature, historical past and its centuries lengthy traditions.
The place is Konitsa positioned
The city of Konitsa lies gracefully at an altitude of 600 meters, simply north of Ioannina, the capital metropolis of Epirus (about an hour’s drive) and to the northeast of Konitsa you will see the well-known villages of Zagorochoria. The origin of the identify of the city likely comes from the Slavic phrase kon, that means horse. The city’s shut proximity to the Vikos–Aoös Nationwide Park makes it an excellent vacation spot for nature lovers and an ideal base to discover the broader space of Epirus.
1. Discover the charming villages of Mastorohoria
The broader space of Epirus is legendary for its stone villages and Konitsa is understood for its Mastorohoria – the Villages of the Grasp Craftsmen, the native artisans and craftsmen of the world who constructed the architectural gems all through Greece and the Balkans. One such nice instance is the village of Gannadio, which opens as much as spectacular views of the slopes of Grammos (2520m) and Smolikas (2637m).
The village is characterised by a welcoming sq., shaded by a towering airplane tree – right here you will see the one native conventional kafenio – which after all takes it’s identify from the tree and the Church of Taxiarches. This place is really the place one can relaxation, get pleasure from a pleasant native meal and easily take-in the serenity.
The villages are loads and every one has it’s distinctive character, dotted with spectacular architectural monuments and sumptuous sceneries. Monastiri village is house to the Monastery of Panagia, Hionades village boast a wealthy custom of hagiography whereas Plikati is essentially the most remoted village of Mastorochoria. For many who have extra time to spare will discover enjoyment of discovering the variety of this blessed land.
2. Go to the Magnificent Monasteries and Church buildings
Konitsa and its surrounding villages are house to a few of the most notable monasteries and church buildings which have withstood the check of time. One of many oldest and most spectacular monasteries in Epirus is the Holy Monastery of Molivdoskepasti, an imposing byzantine monument that was constructed by Byzantine Emperor Constantine Pogonatos within the seventh century.
The identify of the church derives from the phrase lead which was owed to the lead roof that the monastery was as soon as sheltered with. Regardless of struggling quite a few destructions over the centuries, this spiritual monument has been tremendously preserved and right now one can admire outstanding Byzantine hagiographies relationship again to the sixteenth century.
Molivdoskepasto, a pleasant village of about 40 inhabitants which bears the identical identify because the monastery, is positioned only a few meters from Albania and has been an vital financial and administrative centre because the historical instances.
On its small village sq. you’ll come throughout a standard kafenio, which is the favourite and solely hangout spot of the locals and a neighbouring tsipouro distillery the place we have been invited to savor the native pies with a glass of tsipouro. The hospitality was completely pleasant.
Should you do discover yourselves on this a part of the area, comply with the one foremost highway that leads into the center of the village the place you can be greeted by numerous cherry bushes and dense mountain slopes, be sure to cease on the church of Saint George and quest your thirst by consuming the holy water from the pure spring.
The story has it that whoever drinks from the spring shall positively return.
On the fringe of the settlement you can be welcomed by one other historic church devoted to the Agioi Apostoli, relationship again to 1298. The spectacular frescoes have been accomplished in 1645 with a beneficiant donation from Panos Papadimitriou who assigned the well-known painters Dimitri and Ioanni Skoutari from Grammosta or Grammos (Kastoria area) to finish the artistic endeavors.
3. Soak within the conventional character of Konitsa
Konitsa is understood to be probably the most stunning villages of Greece, and extremely so. The effectively preserved stone homes harmoniously coexist with the cobblestone streets, the luxurious vegetation and blooming rose gardens.
Within the afternoon take a stroll alongside the cobblestone alleys illuminated by the shimmering gentle that bounces off the stone partitions, and you’ll really feel as should you’ve out of the blue landed in a fairytale, as you go among the many image excellent homes with the effectively manicured gardens.
When you attain the primary sq., a way of calmness will take over as you will notice the locals comfortably sitting within the cafe, having fun with small discuss over espresso or maybe one thing stronger.
In locations comparable to Konitsa, you need to study to succumb to the circulation and rid your thoughts of any worries, at the least for a second. That’s what we did, we sat down, ordered espresso and engaged in small discuss.
For many who are curious to know extra in regards to the historical past of this charming place, there are a number of landmarks value mentioning, the Mosque of Sultan Suleiman is famed for its spectacular architectural heritage, in addition to the home of Hamko, mom of the ruthless ruler Ali Pascha. Oenophiles are invited to discover the museum of wine and vine, whereas historical past buffs can interact within the displays displayed on the Museum of Pure Historical past and Folklore.
4. The land of berries and superfoods
The panorama of Epirus bears many presents, amongst them are the cherry bushes, but there may be one farmer who went past what’s secure and recognized, and determined to strive one thing new.
Sea buckthorn berries aren’t in any respect frequent to the Greek panorama, but it didn’t cease Philippos Barbas from efficiently planting one thousand bushes in Konitsa. He makes use of modern-day farming strategies and land irrigation is operated proper via his cellphone. The superfood does wonders to your heath, no chemical compounds are added and the manufacturing relies solely on the presents of nature.
The concept began in 2009, when Barbas wished to show his interest into profession by establishing Ipofaes.gr, and with laborious work and perseverance that is what he did. He not too long ago added merchandise comparable to Ginkgo biloba (the herb for glorious reminiscence) and milk thistle that are each grown and processed in Greece.
5. Get pleasure from Therapeutic Spa Remedies on the Thermal Baths of Amarantos
The thermal baths have been first in-built 1923 nevertheless up till the Nineteen Sixties guests might solely make it up right here with the assistance of animals. The thermal springs of Amarantos are positioned within the north of the Amarantos village surrounded by lush greenery at an altitude of 1200m. The amenities function 13 particular person baths, a standard pool and a separate steam room. The spa operates from June till September.
There are a number of lodging choices obtainable within the village and the world additionally options 15 mountain climbing lanes for all ranges of problem (open from June till October). This place is really a terrific vacation spot for many who want to escape the trendy day worries.
6. Admire the Arch bridge of Konitsa
The stone bridge of Konitsa which is the distinctive landmark of the city is claimed to be the biggest single arch bridge of the Balkans. Towering over the Aoos river this 20 meter excessive and 35 m in size single arch bridge was constructed in 1870 by Ziogas Frontzos, a talented craftsman from the village of Pyrsogianni.
In 1870 when the Turkish military was leaving Konitsa they tried to explode the bridge, fortunately they failed and this spectacular bridge has managed to face up to time, making it one if the primary sights within the space.
7. Witness the stays of Mesogefira – an vital turning level in historical past
The third in rating bridge of river Aoos as soon as served as the one reference to the neighbouring Albania. The three arched bridge was initially constructed within the seventh century and in flip was blown up by the Greeks in 1940 with a view to stop the Italian troops from getting into Greece. At this time one can see simply the stays of a wall surrounded by lush greenery and refreshing waters of river Aoos.
8. Go to the Northern Pindos Nationwide Park
The Northern Pindos Nationwide Park was created in 2005 by unifying the Valia Kalda and the Vikos–Aoös Nationwide Park. Overlaying an space of just about 2,000 sq. kilometers, makes it the biggest nationwide park in mainland Greece. The park is made up of just about all of Zagori, components of Konista and Metsovo, in addition to the western a part of Grevena.
The park affords a considered one of a form mixture of pure wilderness and conventional villages. In 2010 the Vikos- Aoos area, which can also be house to the world’s steepest gorge (in keeping with the Guinness World File) obtained the popularity of the Worldwide Geopark by UNESCO.
The park hosts many uncommon ecosystem sorts in addition to quite a few endemic species of fauna and flora. Over 2000 plant species have been recored all through the world of the Park, over 2500 species of mushrooms have been documented, in addition to 60 species of mammals, virtually all of which have been listed as endangered mammals of Greece.
The Northern Pindos Nationwide Park can also be house to 186 chook species, birds of pray comparable to Egyptian vulture (a universally endangered species), the golden eagle, the fish hawk, amongst others have discovered their secure haven right here.
The components of the Park could be accessed from totally different areas. In Konitsa there are two notable stone bridges that are included within the sights of the park, one is the Voidomatis Bridge, Kleidonias in-built 1853 and the Konitsa bridge on the Aoos river in-built 1850.
9. A paradise for Energetic holidays
Epirus is an all season vacation spot, and the proper place for every type of actions, from mountaineering, rafting, repelling, horse using and snowboarding.
The area is dotted with quite a few mountaineering trails for all ranges of problem and age teams. For many who want to strive mountain climbing, but aren’t certain of their abilities, Through Ferrata is a novel exercise that doesn’t require any earlier expertise. It’s a climbing path which is carved into the steep hill, geared up with metal cables and ladders alongside the route. The Through Ferrata could be skilled on the river Aoos and the path begins on the historic bridge of Konitsa.
10. Expertise wildlife on the Konitsa Lotos Farm
Sprawling over130 hectares of land this excellent retreat is an ideal vacation spot to expertise wildlife in its pure surroundings. Visitors are invited to remain in snug lodges manufactured from wooden and stone, which harmoniously coexist with the pure environment. Right here additionally, you will get to satisfy the native everlasting residents comparable to wild deer, boar, horses and plenty of extra. On the grounds of this farm advanced there’s a banquet corridor with a 700 individuals seating capability and a small chapel of St. Nicholas which might host personal christenings and orthodox weddings.
11. Go to the home of Saint Paisios
Saint Paisios, the beloved holy elder of Greece was born in Cappadocia, Asia Minor, the trendy day Turkey. A couple of days following his baptism all of the Greeks have been exiled from Asia Minor and his household settled in Epirus. Most of his life Paisios lived in Konitsa and have become a monk within the Holy Monastery of Panagia in Stomion.
He warned in opposition to robust dependence on materials possessions – “The one who is possessed by materials issues is at all times subjugated to unhappiness and anxiousness: he trembles for worry that his issues will probably be taken away from him” – smart phrases from probably the most beloved fashionable saints within the Orthodox world. Greek TV sequence have been filmed in lots of areas of Konitsa, devoted to the lifetime of Saint Paisios. A number of the scenes have been additionally filmed on the village of Gannadio.
12. Pay a Go to to the Tree Church of Ayios Paisios
One of many highlights of Konitsa is the hidden church of Saint Paisios housed contained in the oldest tree of Konitsa. It’s positioned at an in depth proximity to the village of Ayia Varvara, alongside the primary highway that results in Amarantos.
The delicacies of Epirus is blessed with fantastic flavors, the goats and sheep get pleasure from a wholesome mountainous weight-reduction plan and in flip produce glorious milk which is used to make a few of the best butter, cheese and yogurt within the nation. Meat dishes are luxurious and are completely becoming to the cool local weather that Epirus enjoys throughout the winter months. Pies are recognized to be a staple dish of the area, and are completely scrumptious.
Phyllo pastries of Epirus additionally maintain a excessive place within the area’s wealthy delicacies, strive Klostari with walnuts (Epirus Gi) produced primarily based on grandma Sosana’s conventional recipe which was discovered by her household hidden in a field of spices stacked in her kitchen. An unique Greek baklavas that can make you wish to lick your fingers.
And when you are wining and eating your means via the welcoming villages of Epirus, you is likely to be fortunate to return throughout some locals someplace in an out of doors tavern, gathered over a meal, consuming wine and having fun with rebetiko music. The most effective reminiscences are normally those which might be unplanned. When within the space take a look at Alexia’s tavern with a ravishing outside seating space excellent for the nice and cozy summer time nights.
The place to Keep in Konitsa
The primary impressions searching of the window within the morning have been spectacular, an unlimited valley lay in entrance so far as the attention can see. The refreshing mountainous air greets the traveler always of yr.
This charming 3-star resort in Konitsa is a nice instance of the native structure, construct of stone and wooden it affords friends a cushty and hospitable keep. The resort’s 11 rooms are geared up with the unbelievable Coco-mat bedding, guaranteeing that you’ll obtain glorious relaxation and a very good night time’s sleep.
The resort’s central location and easy accessibility to Konitsa’s foremost sights make it an excellent base for an exquisite getaway all year long.
*Journey Greece, Journey Europe was a visitor on the Press journey organized by CK Methods and Go to Konitsa. All opinions expresses are at all times our personal.