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Presentation of Geographical Unit Zagori

A painter could only recall rare beauty and so much personality. The 46 stone villages of Zagori, fringed by lush mountainsides and crystal waters, spanning an area of 992 square kilometers. Their geographical location combined with the altitude, topography and natural wealth, were a key factor in the evolution of life of their inhabitants.

Description of geographical features

Geographically placed to the North of Ioannina, in a mountainous region that is part of the mountainous complex of N. Pindos. North-West of Zagoria villages identify the river Aoos and the mountainous complex of Tymfi, with the highest peak Gamila (2497 m altitude), which comprise their physical limits with the province of Konitsa. Southwest meet the mount Mitsikeli (alt. 1811 m) which separates the Zagori from the basin of Ioannina, while to the East lie the Western outskirts of Montenegro (alt. 2159 m) and the eastern slopes of the River Valley Varda, tributary of Arachthos, separating the Zagori from Metsovo and the mountain Peristeri.
By the 17th century begins the period of great prosperity of Zagori. Then created the majority of the settlements, while the area starts to acquire its present form and while is divided into three geographical divisions, the Western, Eastern and Central called in all Zagori.

Historical and cultural significance of the stone bridges

These wonderful folk art exhibit great geographic dispersion, however, found predominantly in Epirus and in other mountainous areas of the country. At times have sparked the interest of many researchers. Besides are points of particular cultural, folklore and historical interest and is inextricably linked with the local and national history, the regions where they are located.
We must give special emphasis on cultural and folklore heritage of these stone structures. Are a source of rich folklore material, which includes folk songs, legends, proverbs, folk customs and beliefs, while often declared monuments of cultural heritage.
Studying the stone bridges can discover aspects of everyday life of both masons and of people who have used them for centuries.Most of them are anonymous and self-taught works of architecture, which inspired by nature and took care to respect the rules of using only local stones and other natural building materials such as wood, soil and water. The knowledge that had been totally empirical, however able to create exquisite works, great aesthetics.

Traditions and customs on the stone bridges

 

Bridge of Captain - Arkoudas


It is a stone, one-arched bridge that has an outstanding historical significance, as in this on August 6, 1906, the Turkish army killed the Macedonian commander Captain-Bear and since then the bridge got his name.
Funding of the project was a Jew, Solomon Matsilis from Ioannina, and that’s why in the past this was called “bridge of the Jew”.
An old folk song of our region recounts the events that occurred there in August 1906: «Three partridges were sitting high on Rosia Tsouka, the one was looking at Giannina and the other at Zagori the third one the smaller requiems and says: Arkoudas was killed at Lavdas bridge, three ntoyfekies of ntragatis Lambros the one threw took him xofaltsa, and the other in the leg and the third one was poisonous, took him to his heart...»


Bridge of Gkiana or Gkana


Outside the village of Kavallari stand the ruins of the double-arched bridge of Ghana. According to tradition, the bridge was built by a woman who was raped by Turks in 1630, in order to be forgiven of her sin.
Bridge of Geromniou
It took its name from a villager, who drowned in the stream, that it bridges. The villager had the nickname “Giromnios”, because he had come as a husband from the village Geromnimi (Ieromnimi) in Kourenta. The drowning of this man, however, was the reason for the bridge, to be built.


Lazaridis Bridge


The bridge is accompanied by a legend, according to which the thieves had hidden next to it the icon of St. Constantine and St. Helen. The locals saw every night a lit vigil in there. The vigil ceased to be viewed by residents when the icon was found and returned to the temple, where it had been stolen.


Noutsou’s Bridge


In this position, which is the bridge built in, preexisted another one, which, according to tradition, it was used for the discovery and punishment of animal thieves. According to tradition, to see if a suspect was an animal thief, they coerce him to pass the bridge, carrying a goat on his back. If the suspect passed it or if he confessed, he was found innocent, otherwise the punishment was the drowning in the river.
Apart from its rare art and aesthetics, which has as a result the cultural ubdate of the area, this bridge holds also an important historical role, since it is located near the “Daveli’s Cave”.

 

Bridge of Kleidoniavista

 

According to tradition, in the place which is now built the bridge, existed from Byzantine times an earlier bridge which had connected with a murder, for a matter of honor, between two related families. Indeed, the murder that was the reason to abandon an entire village.
These are the families of Stamatis and Geraeni. When the bridal procession of Geraeni’s daughter passed over the bridge, it fell on the family of Stamatis. In the ensuing battle, among others Geraenis with his wife and two cousins of the bridge were killed. Since then, it is also sung the lament of the Geraeni’s daughter “I did not change the sound/to say another song / I lost a mister and a mistress and my first two cousins ...”

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