Tzoumerka (Ioannina)

Presentation of Geographical Unit Tzoumerkon

Beautiful, stone-built villages and traditional settlements, located in the hillsides of abrupt mountains that are crossed by crystal clear rivers shape the scenery of Northern Tzoumerka. A real paradise on earth that has everything the aspiring visitor may want.

Description of geographical features

The region of Tzoumerka, as well as Konitsa, is renowned for its famous stone craftsmen. In Tzoumerka this craft helped the residents to survive the poverty which ravaged the region due to its limited and infertile land.
Their tradition and reputation are unique throughout Greece. By the late 17th century but mostly at the beginning of the 18th century, the craftsmen from Tzoumerka trained their building skills with exceptional performance. They traveled organized into groups or guilds, which were formed from the master craftsmen. Usually they were leaving around Easter, and were missing from their house from spring to autumn.
The bridges were essentially the first technical projects carried out in the streets. For the construction of bridges, which was done by the famous Kioproulides (a guild of stone builders), there were three major difficulties: the foundations, the construction of the arches and the choice of the time of their construction. Although the first two depend on the art of the craftsmen, the third has to do with the unpredictable factor of weather.
The bridges are typically simple, folk constructions and specifically in the region of Epirus their decorations were not exaggerated but almost nonexistent. There is huge variety in the form of the bridges of Epirus. Two main categories are the bridges of lowlands and the bridges of highlands. Usually, the bridges of lowlands are longer and with more bows, because rivers have low slope, are wide, and lose their impetuosity. But in the mountainous lands, there is high slope and the rivers are small in width and more impetuous.

Historical and cultural significance of the stone bridges

The region of Tzoumerka, as well as Konitsa, is renowned for its famous stone craftsmen. In Tzoumerka this craft helped the residents to survive the poverty which ravaged the region due to its limited and infertile land.
Their tradition and reputation are unique throughout Greece. By the late 17th century but mostly at the beginning of the 18th century, the craftsmen from Tzoumerka trained their building skills with exceptional performance. They traveled organized into groups or guilds, which were formed from the master craftsmen. Usually they were leaving around Easter, and were missing from their house from spring to autumn.
The bridges were essentially the first technical projects carried out in the streets. For the construction of bridges, which was done by the famous Kioproulides (a guild of stone builders), there were three major difficulties: the foundations, the construction of the arches and the choice of the time of their construction. Although the first two depend on the art of the craftsmen, the third has to do with the unpredictable factor of weather.
The bridges are typically simple, folk constructions and specifically in the region of Epirus their decorations were not exaggerated but almost nonexistent. There is huge variety in the form of the bridges of Epirus. Two main categories are the bridges of lowlands and the bridges of highlands. Usually, the bridges of lowlands are longer and with more bows, because rivers have low slope, are wide, and lose their impetuosity. But in the mountainous lands, there is high slope and the rivers are small in width and more impetuous.

Traditions and customs on the stone bridges

The bridges are a source of rich folklore material, which includes folk songs, legends, proverbs, folk customs and beliefs, while they are often declared as monuments of cultural heritage.

 

Bridge of Papastathis


The bridge of Papastathis was built in 1746 and 350 Venetian florins were spent. Information indicates that the master builder of the bridge was probably from the village of Pramanta. Particularly famous is the rumor that refers to the way in which the money for its construction was found. One version states that the bridge was built with money collected by the monk Agapios of the monastery of Viliza.
According to the tradition, however, the money given for the construction of the bridge came from some robbers, who wanted to steal the monastery, but with a miraculous way they fled and abandoned the money. The bridge also has historical importance as it revives the tragic events that took place here during the German occupation. The bridge suffered heavy damages, as in 1942 it was bombed by the Germans, but its strong construction had as a result the bridge to remain standing until our days, being a historical relic for the region.

 

Bridge of Plaka


The bridge of Plaka is a historical relic and symbol of freedom for the struggles of the Greeks. On July 27 and 28, the fighters of the Greek revolution, headed by Markos Botsaris crushed the army of Ali Topal Pasha here, while in 1878 the Greeks led by K. Kottikas forced the Turkish garrison on the bridge to retire. From 1881 to 1913 the bridge served as a border for the Greek and the Turkish State, while on 4 February 1944 in the shed beside the bridge, the historical treaty “Agreement of Plaka” was signed between ELAS and EDES. The bridge suffered serious damage when it was bombed by the Germans, but managed to stand and live long.

 

Bridge in Sopato (Sirrako)

Regarding the sponsorship for the construction of it, the tradition mentions that the bridge was funded by the nuns, who wanted to have access to a fountain near there that bears their name.

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