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Theodoriana – In a mountainous paradise

Theodoriana is a village in the prefecture of Arta and is nestled on the slopes of Eastern Tzoumerka at an altitude of 980 m. The description of the route leading to the village is too poor in words to describe the impressive scenery.

Where nature utilizes the abundant water creating small and large waterfalls.

The asphalt road from Athamani climbs with continuous bends to the ridge of Stavros at an altitude of 1400m. The stop is essential and the view is amazing (weather permitting). The river Acheloos, the villages of Tzoumerka, Agrafa and Amvrakikos gulf are the picture we see. From this point onwards, the descent begins and the village appears between the inaccessible peaks of Katafidi and Kryakouras, which they are like to protect it.

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Historical Information about Theodoriana

Source: The information in this section is based on the Historical Review that you can find on the website of the Theodoriana Association, theodoriana.com.

Theodoriana were mentioned for the first time with their current name in 1695, in a tax list of the Venetian authorities. The area, like the whole of Epirus, has hardly been studied archaeologically, with the result that many historical elements remain unknown.

However, archaeological finds in the area and some unofficial historical evidence justify the view that Theodoriana are a historical continuation of the ancient city of Theodoria in the land of the Athamanes and its inhabitants are the first historically ascertained tribe that lived in the area. The historical course of the ancient city followed that of Epirus. The prosperity that Athamania experienced during the reign of Amynandros was violently interrupted with its total destruction in 167 BC by the Romans, it became a Roman province and fell into obscurity.

Regarding the origin of the name, the oldest historians speculate that it is due to the king of Athamania, Theodoros, without specifying the exact location of Theodoria. The younger researchers and historians place Theodoria in the Selios (Slavic word meaning village) site of the Theodorians. And it is unknown when the name change from Theodoria to Theodoriana took place

The period of the Turkish Rule

The Turkish occupation begins in 1431 for Epirus, but not for Theodoriana and the other villages of Tzoumerka resist and achieve semi-independence and self-government. The Turks after 1652 began to limit these rights. However, Theodoriana and some other villages of Tzoumerka maintained certain privileges until the period of the satrapy of Ali Pasha (1788). From 1740 the local captains once again formed the Armatoliki Tzoumerkon. Throughout the Turkish occupation, Theodoriana did not experience permanent Turkish occupation. The stables of the breeders were a refuge for the hunted and Kleftarmatoli.

Revolutionary movements and battles

Theodoriana in the Revolution of 1821

On May 15, 1821, chieftains, captains and fighters gathered at the Monastery of Agios Georgios in Vourgareli and proclaimed the revolution in Tzoumerka and Radovyzi with the blessings of the abbot of the monastery, Christoforos. Georgios Karaiskakis, Giannakis and Mitros Koutelidas, Gogos Bakolas, Andreas Iskos, Giannakis Ragos, Markos Botsaris, Koutsonikas are some of the names of the fighters who participated. The inhabitants of Theodoriana took part in all the battles that followed.

The Battle at the Stavros passage

In July 1821, Ismail Pasha, with two thousand Turkalvans, marches towards Tzoumerka with the aim of opening the way to Sterea Ellada and the Peloponnese. After setting fire to the villages of Sirrako, Kalarrites, Pramanta and Melissourgi, the Turks arrived on August 2 in Theodoriana, which was empty of inhabitants.

The Greek chieftains led by Gogos Bakolas decide to give battle at the Stavros passage. The first attack on August 4 is followed by the big attack the next day. The Turks are six thousand and the Greeks about five hundred. The Turks do not manage to pass the rassage of Stavros and are forced to retreat counting significant losses. The victory at the passage of Stavros in Theodoriana was decisive for the development of the Revolution, because it prevented the Turks from crossing to Sterea Ellada and the Peloponnese and gave the opportunity to strengthen the revolution there.

The rebellion of Kostilata

Liberation for Theodoriana came on June 24, 1881 and the reconstruction of the village began. After the annexation, however, a problem arose with the ownership status of the Kostilata meadow. After the departure of the Turks, the meadow was sold by the Turks Mustafabei and Sukerevei to the landowner brothers Nikos and Giorgos Antonopoulos.

The Antonopouli brothers rented the Kostilata meadow to the chief shepherd Georgios Hatzaras. The Turks took it as conquerors, so now with the liberation it temporarily belonged to them. The reaction of the residents was reasonable, but the big landowner persisted, as of course all the Greek landowners who appropriated entire lands after the departure of the Turks.

The dispute spread, and the village armed with weapons, khajaras, axes, and sticks faced the military detachment accompanying the 2,000 sheep of the cheliga Hajara to graze in the Kostilata meadow. Finally, the two sides came to an agreement and on July 25, 1883, a contract was signed that transferred Kostilata to 131 residents of Theodoriana. Today the Kostilata meadow is managed by the Local Cooperative of the village.

Kostilata is also known for its springs at an altitude of 1450 m. The bottling plant is located nearby and the waters are bottled directly from the springs.

Source: The information in this section is based on the Historical Review that you can find on the website of the Theodoriana Association, theodoriana.com.

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What to see

Hiking and climbing routes

The village is an attraction in itself. It is a mountain paradise with two rivers and dozens of springs in the area. The location and the wild nature with the intense mountainous relief that surrounds it make it one of the most interesting destinations. From here on, the hiking and climbing routes, depending on everyone’s capabilities, are many and varied. Do not forget that the village is located in the heart of Tzoumerka. Many routes are carved on the old historical paths.

With a 4×4 you also go up to the Kostilata plateau above the village.

Of course, for those who are looking for something difficult, climbing the peaks of Tzoumerka is an experiential experience. And the most interesting thing is that the electronic map of the paths around Theodoriana is in the final stage thanks to the active Association of the village.

Attractions in and around Theodoriana

Souda waterfalls

Among the most impressive points are the Souda waterfalls located at an altitude of 1300 m. A few minutes of driving on a paved road and about twenty pleasant hikes in an impressive landscape lead to the waterfalls.

Οι καταρράκτες της Σούδας
The Souda Waterfalls

The waters start from the peaks of the Eastern Tzoumerka, they split creating a twin waterfall that falls from a height of 25 meters and that keeps its waters throughout the year. Then the waterfall joins the stream of Aspri Goura.

The “Marks” stream

The “Marks” stream is located in the heart of the large and virgin forest of Elatia. It is a very beautiful area where the water flows forming small lakes and waterfalls. Two to three kilometers before the village on the right there is a parking space for the car and a relevant sign. The duration of the hike to the point of the second lake and the return is about an hour and a half.

Στο Ρέμα Μαρκς
At the Marks Stream

The mountain shelter

You definitely have to go up to the mountain shelter of the village, which has a small guest house, cafe and restaurant. A little above the village on the road leading to the double waterfalls of Souda a sign directs you to the left. In addition to coffee and food, you will enjoy the amazing view.

The “Stavros” passage

You also have to make a stop at the “Stavros” passage between the villages of Athamanio and Theodoriana. The name comes from the wooden cross erected by Cosmas the Aetolian in 1777 when he visited Theodoriana where he founded the first school in the village.

Το Πέρασμα του Σταυρού
The “Stavros” passage

The settlement of Skarpari

A visit to the surrounding villages and the settlement of Skarpari located above Acheloos and belonging to Theodoriana is a very good idea to enjoy the area.

Churces and Monasteries in Theodoriana

The church of Agios Georgios

It is located in the center of the square and was built in 1880 by Pramanti craftsmen on the site of an older church that was built in 1777.

The monastery of Panagia

It is located in the north of the village and was built by the abbot Anthimos Argyropoulos in 1793, who was a monk there for many years. During the Turkish occupation, it functioned as a co-educational school, and during the years of the Occupation, it was turned into a hiding place for patriots, as well as a makeshift surgery and hospital.

Anthimos Argyropoulos was a historical figure with a great contribution. He was imprisoned by Ali Pasha for many years but after the pleas of powerful chieftains he was released. First he went to Corfu where he became friends with Ioannis Kapodistrias and then to Zakynthos where he was appointed vicar. He was initiated into the Philiki Etairia and he himself initiated many, including Theodoros Kolokotronis.

The stone bridge of Goura

It is located in the site Plagia below Theodoriana on the road leading to Thessaly. It bridges one of the pits that together with others create the Goura left tributary of the Acheloos River.

Το πέτρινο γεφύρι της Γκούρας
The bridge of Goura

The bridge was built in 1924 by craftsmen from Raftanei. According to word of mouth, the construction of the bridge was difficult and the cost quite high. However, here too, effort and cost were expressed with a variation of the well-known legend: “haunted the shadows of two girls carrying stones to the bridge, who fell ill and died in 40 days”

Το πέτρινο γεφύρι της Γκούρας
The bridge of Goura



Τhe large fest of August 15th

It is the most important celebration not only for its religiosity but it is also the opportunity to reward all those who are absent far from their place. The festival on the feast of the Virgin lasts two days – August 15 and 16 – and the dance, which has a ritual character, makes the festival famous. With the ringing of the bell, all the residents gather in the square to dance the traditional “double-barrel” dance. The dance has its roots in the Ottoman Empire and the name diplokagelo is due to the kagelia (i.e. the serpentine turns) that the dancers make during the dance.

The dance forms two lines. The order of the dance is determined by an expert for the occasion and the village priest is the first to dance, in order to underline the sanctity of the fiest. The women are in the first row are with their arms crossed and behind them the men, while with one voice they sing and dance, the song of “Kostilata“, known in Panhellenic with its variations. The song refers to the Kostilata meadow and recalls the struggle and uprising of the Theodoriana habitants against the landowners, which had bought it from the Turks.

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