Aristi is built at an altitude of 650 m on the northern slopes of the Grabala Hill or “Roynikos“. More specifically, it is on the opposite side of the impressive rocks of Astraka.
What’s more, it is located at the boundary of the Vikos – Aoos National Park and therefore it is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages of Zagori. Since it is surrounded by mountains it is visible to the visitors only when they approach it close enough.
Furthermore, it is located 48 km from the capital of the prefecture, Ioannina, while the nearest other village is Agios Minas at a distance of 2.5 km. It also has easy communication with Papigo and Vikos.
Its old name, Arsista, of Albanian origin, refers to a kind of grass, shrub or tree.
Aristi was one of the largest settlements in the region, especially between the 17th and 19th centuries. It had a substantial economic contribution of dozens of local immigrants from Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.
Of the 800 people who lived in the village in the beginning of the previous century, today there are about 80. The war has contributed to the devastation of this village as well other villages of Zagori.
In the recent years, however, the tourism recovery has resulted in the heirs of the old mansions returning and operating the large mansions as traditional hotels.
In the square of the village, you will be impressed by the imposing church of the Dormition of the Virgin with its high bell tower, the old fountain and the stone-built cobblestone streets that you will walk on.
Its beauty, along with its very good tourist infrastructure, as well as the easy access to many of the area’s attractions have made Aristi to one of the most popular destinations in Zagori.
What to see
Route from Aristi to Klidonia
People who love hiking can follow the path that starts from Aristi and leads to the Kleidonia bridge. The distance is 5km and the hiking time is about 2 to 2.30 hours. In the middle of the course you will find the monastery of Agioi Anargyroi of Kleidonia (Klidoniavistas), built in 1658. The sign shows the way and the steps that lead to the old and abandoned church. The catholic of the monastery well as the beautiful hagiographies on the walls are in good conditions. The monastery is a historic listed monument.
On the day of the Feast of Saint Anargyri Kosmas & Damianos (July 1st), it becomes operational and a picturesque traditional feast takes place on the shore of Voidomatis under the ancient plane trees.
Voidomatis, at the point of the bridge
Leaving Aristi and taking the road to Papigo at 3 km, we reach the river and the narrow, aristocratic bridge of Aristi. This bridge was the first concrete block built in Greece in 1923 and it was funded by the inhabitants of Papingo. Next, we park right on the plateau below the plane trees and we are in one of the most beautiful corners of mountainous Greece.
Lovers of hiking can follow the path that starts from Aristi and leads to the Kleidonia bridge, after three and a half hours.
Voidomatis bridge on the way to Papingo is the starting point for rafting of difficulty II grade which lasts 1 to 2 hours, ending at Voidomatis bridge in Klidonia. The descent of the river can be done either by kayak or monoraft.
Voidomatis is a small tributary of Aoos about 15 km long and it is the cleanest river in Europe. The clarity of the waters is impressive. Their clarity in deep places and their purity is largely due to the fact that the river is entirely within the Vikos Aoos National Park. The park was proclaimed in 1973 to protect the sensitive flora and fauna of the area.
It is a large single-arched bridge built in 1853 by Mishios, funded by Balkiz Chanoum, the wife of Malik Pasha, who donated 37,000 pots. It is a monotone with successive united arcades for parasols and it joins the two banks of the river Voidomatis, from where it acquired its second name. It is considered to be of excellent construction. Previously the inhabitants moved from western Zagori to Konitsa via the bridge.
At this point of the river, there was an older bridge from the Byzantine years that was connected to a murder that took place between two families in the area and resulted in the abandonment of an entire village. Two large and rich families collided for a price issue on the bridge.
The bridge has been declared a historic listed monument. In the area of the bridge there are activities such as rafting, kayaking, hiking and climbing.