Skamneli (or Skamnelion) is built on the slopes of Tymfi, at an altitude of 1100 m, north of the Skamneliotikos Stream and is surrounded by large areas of pine, fir and beech trees. It is located in the northern part of Central Zagori and is 52 km from Ioannina.
History and Information
It is unknown when the village was first founded. Ruins of Pelasgian walls in the area west of the village, in Paleokastro, near the monastery of Agia Paraskevi, testify to habitation since prehistoric times.
According to Lampridis, there used to be 7 villages with 800 houses together with Skamneli, which were destroyed after raids. Part of the inhabitants fled to Moschopoli where they formed a settlement called Skamnelia, others fled to Sopiki and others to Molista. Those who stayed in the area merged and formed two districts, Skamneli and Gardiki, separated from each other by a pit. But the residents of Gardiki moved elsewhere.
Source: Ζαγοριακά, Ι. Λαμπρίδης, page 86
The toponym probably comes from the surname Skamnelis.
The village experienced many robberies (1837, 1879, 1881). In 1881 Apostolaki’s gang of 17 robbers hit the houses of doctor Dim. Frangoulis, of G. Volonasis and I. Tsoia, took as hostages the wives of three and a child whom they released after collecting the ransom they demanded. In 1912 the Turks burned it down.
The Vlachs with their special character dominated here from long ago and the Vlach language was spoken in these areas.
In the period 1750-1830 the village showed great economic, intellectual and demographic growth, so much so that already in 1780 a Greek and co-educational school was operating here, as well as a school for girls. Many of the men who migrated mainly to the Danubian regions became rich.
In 1912 the village was completely burned by the Turks, which is why many of the mansions were completely destroyed. Despite this, there are quite a few old mansions, stone-built paths and squares.
What to see in Skamneli
The village has several beautiful mansions and cobbled streets. The square with the big plane tree must once have gathered people. Proof is the old grand hotel which is empty and falling into disrepair.
Churches & Monasteries:
- Agia Paraskevi: Monastery at the edge of the village. The exterior of the catholicon has very nice frescoes (1773), works by the famous painters from Kapesovo and Hioniades. The monastery used to flourish but now it is deserted.
- Saints Apostles Peter and Paul (1793): Old church in the square.
- St Nikolaos: Monastery at the entrance of the village, next to the road where the village cemetery is today. It has been declared a historical preserved monument.
- Dormition of the Virgin: Old church in the village.
Paleokastro (or Palaiokastro) (Acropolis): On the hill above the Monastery of St. Paraskevi. Ruins of probably Pelasgian walls built to control the passes to Macedonia and Thessaly.
Four stone bridges within the settlement still serve the residents:
- The bridge Agia Triada at the northwest end of Skamneli a few meters before the chapel of Agia Triada,
- The bridge in Lindzeto in Skamneli that bridges the stream of the same name, of Sagiannos and
- The bridges in Panagia next to the church of Panagia.
A fifth one, the Bridge of Kir Alexis, is double-arched and is located outside the village.
A few kilometers after Skamneli and on the road to Gyftokambos is the place Bokovo with the amazing view of the Havos gorge. A small uphill slope leads you to a unique viewpoint of the verdant vertical chasm of Havos. Between the two beautiful peaks of Kousta and Koziako passes the Skamneliotiko stream.
Skamneli has a suitable infrastructure for overnight accommodation and food.
The local festival is organized every year around the day of celebration of Saint Paraskevi on July 26. It starts on the eve and ends the next day.