It is one of the three Vlach villages of Tzoumerka where they still speak the Vlach language like the Greek (the other two are Syrrako and Kalarrytes). It is located on the western slopes of Kakarditsa (2429 m), the highest summit of NE Tzoumerka, and is surrounded by other high peaks such as Katarrachia (2280m) and Kritaria (2200m). Those peaks form steep slopes and ravines where the streams from the waters that descend from the mountains are running.
History and Information
Matsouki at 1100 meters altitude belongs administratively in Ioannina and is 85 km away from the city. Access to Matsouki from the village of Christoi takes place in a breathtaking scenery. Arriving in the village you will pass the wild ravine crossing the long 51m long Bailey bridge. Until some years ago the bridging of the gorge with a width of 48m and a depth of 44m was impossible, resulting in the isolation and desolation of the village. In the winter of 1981, the army placed a Bailey-type pedestrian bridge and then in August 1985 the road was opened to the village and the bridge was installed, while a few tens of meters away there is a second one built from cement.
It is unknown when the original settlement was created. The local tradition says that the name of Matsouki village is due to its inhabitants who killed a terrible dragon with a wood or according to another version faced and hit the enemy with stakes. Researcher Dimitris Kalousios comments that the stories with the stakes reveal the “roughness of the inhabitants”.
After the capture of Ioannina (1431) and the subjugation of Epirus (1469) to the Turks the village retained its independence for several years due to the fortified and inaccessible land. After many years of resistance against the Turks, the inhabitants of Matsouki, as well as the mountainous Vlach populations of Tzoumerka, eventually succumbed to their will, on the one hand, because they could not continue the struggle, and on the other hand, because their large flocks remained in the mountains and they could not move them down to the plain. However, the tough negotiations brought Matsouki and adjoining villages to the strong protection of the King (Validet Sultana), enjoying preferential treatment and giving them the status of “freed” for more than three centuries, known nowadays as “Kefalochoria”. Major privileges that were granted were the preservation of their religion and language. After the death of Ali Pasha, out of the 30 villages of Tzoumerka, only four managed to save some of their old privileges and these were Kalarrytes, Syrrako, Matsouki and Melissourgoi which were the center of economic and intellectual development of the wider region of Epirus. After the fall of Souli (1803), all the privileges granted to them were removed.
Matsouki has long been known for the tailors and the famous capes they made there. Also their main occupation was agriculture and signs of cultivated land show to date with the formation of steep slopes of the soil, the terraces (protective walls) that retained the soil.
Today, unlike the other two villages of Syrrako – Kalarrytes that have been deserted, Matsouki has several permanent residents who are engaged in livestock farming. In summer, about 12,000 sheep and goats and 800 cattle are grazing in the surrounding mountains.
Traditional architecture is not the same as in the other two villages of Syrrako-Kalarrytes and the tingling roofs of the houses (a solution which was also contributed by the free distribution of the zinc by the state after the WW2 as financial support to the villages that had suffered destruction by the occupying forces), don’t look nice to the guests. There are of course some stone-built houses, the very beautiful school, the maintained watermill and the traditional cafes. But surely the incredible beauty due to the amazing geographical position compensates for this disharmony, and the hospitality and good mood of the residents comes as a seal. Besides, Matsouki was one of the last mountain villages that was electrified very recently (April 1984).