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A beautiful traditional settlement

Kalarrytes are located on the western slopes of the mountain range of Pindos in the Prefecture of Ioannina in Epirus, at an altitude of 1200 meters and geographically belong to the region of Tzoumerka. The village is surrounded to the south by the mountainous masses of South Pindos, the Athamanian Mountains or Tzoumerka (2429m) and north of Mount Lakmos or Peristeri (2294m). Among t,hem Kalarrytikos or Chrousia River, a tributary of Arachthos, flows its waters.

History and Information

The area of the village, as it appears from the findings, has been inhabited since the Copper Age. The raids of the Slavs in the lowlands during the 7th century forced the inhabitants to ascend and settle in the mountains and inaccessible locations for greater security. Somewhere between 10th-12th c. the Vlach-speaking Greeks, mainly breeders who lived a half-life, appeared in the area.

The French historian and diplomat F. Puqueville (Pouqueville, François Charles Hugues Laurent (1770-1838), gives a wonderful description of the location of the settlement: “built on successive levels, beginning from the lips of Abyss and rising upwards at a distance of six hundred orbs on the southern slope of the mountain Pantoure Moure,(“Mountain of the Woods”), a place that, as it is said, was chosen by the Vlach residents, on the one hand to preserve their freedom, , because from this point they could be isolated and at the same time control any invaders and on the other hand to make it easier to communicate with Thessaly and Arta. The original huts of the farmers took the name Kalarrytes in the beginning of the 13th century from the waters that wandered rolling out of the rocks, as Pukeville says. However, it may well come from the surname Kalaris who gave the place name Kalari, or on the basis of the normal spellings of Kalarites, since its name refers to the Aromanian (Vlach)) word calar that means “rider, horseback rider, horse rider”.

In the period of the Despotate of Epirus (1204-1430) the settlement was its property and was independent. (Parenthesis: the Despotate of Epirus was one of the states that emerged from the abolition of the Byzantine Empire after the Fourth Crusade in 1204). After the abolition of the Despotate in 1430 they were in danger of becoming slaves in the spas. (Parenthesis: the spas (Turkish: sipahi = army) were the main Turkish military body was the main Turkish military body that ruled mainly the provinces and collected the taxes. This body consisted of Turkish officials and Greek feudal lords who had changed to save and keep their fiefs (feud). To them the sultan had given land for exploitation and poor Muslims, mainly Albanians, for workers. In turn, they sent in return the tax that a Turk was estimating). That is why the Kalarrytians preferred to subjugate the Walid Sultana (mother of the sultan) and secure important privileges, such as autonomy, independence, self-government, freedom of religion, etc., with the sole obligation to pay only three taxes, the staff, the sheep (tax paid by shepherds or sheep owners), and the subordination.

The historian Lambrides says that any Ottoman was forbidden to enter a village belonging to the Valide Sultana unless it was a “carcass autopsy case”, and then he was forced to shake off the “dust” from his horse’s petals. It was such a power of the Christian villages that belonged to the Valide Sultana that many Ottoman families were forced to move to other villages. There was once an incident that, fortunately, did not result in a tragedy. When the 1560s became mass kidnapping of children the Turks naturally took children from the Kalarrytes who when they grew up returned – Turks now- to the village as spas and demanded to marry women from Kalarrytes. Fortunately, with the intervention of Valide Sultana, at the request of the inhabitants, they were completely expelled from the area and went to settle in some parts of Thessaly (Trikala, Karditsa, Kastania), where they became known as Vlachotourks.

Kalarrytes made great progress and growth at the time. The cold climate did not favor the cultivation of vegetables, with the result that men turned to livestock farming while women were engaged in sewing and weaving. At first the professions served their personal needs. Over the years, however, they have turned into profitable professions. Thus, the commerce of the livestock products (milk, cheese, butter etc.) began to be processed, the animal skin, the wrinkle, and which in the course of time developed into important craftsmanship of woolen products (clothes, folates (shag wool rug), textiles etc.). However, the main occupation was the weaving of the Kalarrytic woolen fabric for white and black caps. Long for shepherds and farmers in Albania and Greece, short for sailors and fishermen in the Adriatic. This growth attracted other craftsmen and tradesmen from the rest of Greece who came and settled in Kalarrytes, with the result that the population increased considerably.

Other areas of professional activity were wood carving, painting, gold-engraving, and especially silversmithing, where they became famous silver masons.

Technicians, such as Ath. Tzimouris, Diam. Bafas, assimilating elements from the art of the West, created some of the masterpieces of Modern Greek miniature techniques.

Since the middle of the 17th century, Kalarrytes, as well as neighboring Syrrako, have been major product extraction centers, concentrated there from the neighboring villages and mainly from Thessaly. The merchants and the muleteers which were paid both for the conduct of transit trade and for human trafficking, were also occupations in which Kalarrytians were active. Residents of the region had established commercial houses in major European centers, such as Trieste and Livorno. Economic prosperity and improved living standards also brought the spiritual rise to the village.

The population increased (about 3,000 permanent residents), schools and colleges were opened, books and newspapers were released and in general the cultural and social level was booming. This is confirmed in books by travelers like William Martin Leake and Pouqueville. In fact, they say that there were libraries with ancient writings, books in French and Italian, the village had its own permanent doctor (Corfiot) while the inhabitants spoke foreign languages and knew the prices of European stock exchanges. No wonder Ali Pasha had a cottage in Kalarrytes.

With the declaration of the great Greek Revolution by Ypsilantis in February 1821, the Revolution in Kalarrytes and neighboring Syrrako was proclaimed at the end of June of the same year. Unfortunately, the two villages were unable to cope with the powerful Turkish troops, which ravaged and burned everything. Total destruction. This was also the beginning of the end of great prosperity.

The Kalarrytians left and settled in the Ionian Islands and mainly in Zakynthos, Messolonghi (where they lived the great disaster of Exodus), in Paramythia (the known Bulgari family) in Corfu, in Italy and other distant places where they found affection and support from other Greeks, expanding their business activities in Italy.

Typical examples are the Nessis family, established in Rome, and the Voulgari family (the Bulgari jewelery house).  The end for the clairvoyant craftsmanship comes in the early decades of the 20th century, when the conjunctions of the time led to the closure of the workshops in Kalarrytes. But the story had already been written in “silver” letters.

The Turks understood their mistake because with the development and richness of the villages they were taking enough hike. So in 1822 they issued an order (. (buyurdι) promising amnesty and security to those who would return to their homes. But who could trust them? In 1826 they issued a second order with the same promise. (Both these orders are saved in the archives of the Kalarrytes community).This time some bold people came back. The 1831 census lists 26 families (out of the 500 that existed before 1821) and those impeccable.

Of course they started from the beginning dealing with agriculture and livestock farming and the trade of traditional products but in a rudimentary form. In 1828 the school was re-operated. Since 1870, they have begun to advance again, thanks to their personal work and the financial support they had from the immigrants that had flourished Then they started to repair the half-damaged houses or build new ones These are the old mansions that we see today.

Eventually in 1881 came the long-awaited day of liberation and attachment to free Greece. But only for the Klarrytes, because Syrrako stayed in Turkey. This is because the Berlin Treaty (1878) defined the rivers Arachthos and Chrousias (or Kalarrytikos) as the border between Greece and Turkey. So Syrrako was on Turkish soil while Kalarrytes in Greek. For Syrraco the freedom arrived on 23 November 1912.

Today Kalarrytes is a typical mountain village that fortunately has not deserted like other villages and there is life even in the winter. The permanent residents are about 15-20 people, most retirees. In the summer, however, it is filled with people, both by the visitors and by the migrated who have repaired their homes and are visiting their homeland. The inhabitants are mainly engaged in livestock and tourism. In the village, we should bear in mind that cars are not in circulation, because its cobblestone cannot be mistreated. In the center of the village on the beautiful paved square that is also the center of community life, there is a huge plane tree and the large stairs reminiscent of a theater and serve as a seat for spectators when celebrations and events are held.


The bridge of Kouiasa

It is a stone one-arched bridge on the road that goes up to the village, in the homonymous location, at 742m. altitude, over the Kalarrytiko River and in a very nice natural landscape in its ravine. Unfortunately, dense vegetation makes it almost invisible. It is accessible by a small path (there is a sign on the road). It has foundations in the rock and an auxiliary arched opening.

It was built in 1800, unknown by whom, with money offered by Kalarrytes to be able to pass their caravans. Some maintenance works have been done since the bridge has been damaged by landslides. Quite above the bridge is a restored watermill with mantani and dristella (constructions with a large wooden bucket in which water is dropped from above by pressure and in which clothes, carpets or covers are placed for cleaning).

Bridge of Filos

It is a stone single-arched bridge at 749m. altitude above Kalarrytikos river, next to the road to Kalarrytes. It has a relief opening and a low parapet on its sides. It was built in 1908 by the master builder Filos from Agnanta, hence the name. It is kept in good condition, although without any repair or maintenance. It is located on the road to Kalarrytes near an iron bridge Bailey type and there is a sign on it.

Raftani’s bridge or Station’s bridge

It is a two-arched bridge with a relief opening between the arches. It is located under the monastery of Kipina and is one of the oldest bridges of Arachthos.

It bridges the Kalarrytikos River and its name, as the Bridge of the Station, is due to the Greek military penitentiary that existed there until 1912. The financier of the construction seems to have been the abbot Kallinikos of the monastery of Kipina.

Karlibou Bridge

One-arched bridge in the homonymous location at 750m. altitude, above the homonymous stream that is poured into Kalarrytikos river. Affordable with a small path that starts from the main road and continues for the Vyliza Monastery near the village Matsouki. It is kept in good condition, although without any repair or maintenance, but it has been drowned by vegetation. The name Karlibοu is of Vlach origin and refers to the crook (glitsa) that is necessary for the crossing of the gorge. There were old mantania and watermills but they have not been saved.

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