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EPIRUS

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GENERAL INFORMATION

Epirus is the wettest and most mountainous region in Greece. The wild beauty of the countryside, steeped as it is in folklore, different from the rest of the country in so many ways, stimulates and rewards the curiosity of those who are prepared to explore it.

HISTORY - CULTURE

The geo-physical characteristics account for the marginal influence of classical Greek civilisation upon Epirus.

Since prehistoric times a succession of peoples have settled only to be supplanted by a following wave of inhabitants. In the 7th century BC, Epirus was dominated by the powerful Molosses.

In the 4th century BC, they founded a federation which took over Macedonia, a yoke which was thrown off a few years later. Then a powerful state was created which reached the height of its economic, military and cultural power under Pyrrhus (296 BC) (318-272 BC).

In the year 230 BC, Epirus became a republic bringing stability to its heterogeneous tribes. During the Roman period, an alliance supporting Macedonian resistance to Rome provoked the destruction of 70 of its cities. This was the starting-point of a long decline exacerbated by the successive pillages and raids of Slavs, Goths, Bulgarians and Norsemen (11th century).

There was a small period of autonomy beginning about the year 1204, lasting until the end of the 13th century when power passed from the Venetians, to the Neapolitans, the Serbs, the Albanians and finally in 1450 experiencing the same destiny as the other Greek regions by coming under Turkish rule.

The people of Souli however, successfully resisted Turkish domination until the end of the 17th century when succumbing to the notorious Ali Pasha. Their example was not lost sight of, even though Epirus was in thrall during the 1821 war of independence, when its contribution was confined to Tsakalov and Skoufas who haled from the region and were two of the three founding members of the "Filiki Etairia". (Under the cover of being a "friendly society" this did much to galvanise and co-ordinate the Greek struggle for independence). The spirit of Souli came to life again in 1854, when, taking advantage of the Crimean war, there was an attempt to achieve independence. Although this ended in failure then it finally prevailed when Epirus became part of Greece under the convention which settled the Balkan wars, although northern Epirus was awarded to the new Albanian state 1913.

SIGHTS

The towns and villages display the effects of the region"s turbulent history its vibrant traditions and its rich folklore, against the impressive backdrop of lakes, forests and rivers which flow out of the majestic mountains.

The most renowned sites are the Vikos ravine, the lakeside city of Ioannina and the beautiful Zagochoria. There are dozens of other beauty spots and villages to satisfy the curiosity of the sightseer.

Evidence of the region's ancient past is to be found at Nikopolis in Preveza, the legendary bridge of Arta, the Ancient Theatre of Amvrakia in Arta, the oracle at Dodoni and in museums at Preveza and Ioannina.

ENTERTAINMENT - SPORTS - SHOPPING

The towns of Epirus, Arta, Ioannina, Preveza and Igoumenitsa are the places to go for variety of entertainment. The other towns and the many villages welcome participation in their local events and traditional festivals.

The visitor looking for exercise will find the towns have much to offer. Ioannina is a mountaineering centre, and one can row on its lake. Soccer and basketball pitches, and water sports facilities are to be found at Parga, Igoumenitsa, Preveza and elsewhere, and there are winter sports and ski centres in the Pindos Mountains.

There are many places where a wide variety of game can be hunted.

No one city which can be regarded as having an outstanding shopping centre, but arts and crafts, traditional items, rugs and hand-woven articles, handmade souvenirs, silver and copperware and other decorative items are available throughout the region.

Visitors should try the local specialities including the red wine, sweets, ouzo, the pies of Zagorochoria, grilled river fish and the cheese and cream pies of Ioannina.

ACCESS

There are public coach services from Athens and Thessaloniki to Arta, Igoumenitsa, Ioannina, Preveza, Parga, Thesprotiko, Philippiada.

Planes fly from Athens and Thessaloniki to the airports of Ioannina and Preveza (Aktio).

Ferries sail to Igoumenitsa from Patras in summer, all the year round and link Igoumenitsa with Corfu and Italy.

 

 

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