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Metsovo
A purely mountainous town

Metsovo

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METSOVO

One of the most picturesque mountainous towns

Metsovo is a purely mountainous town, one of the most traditional and picturesque, surrounded by several meadows but mainly from dense fir and beech forests, where various animals (bears, wolves, etc.) nest. In such a position and with such nature, the climate is purely continental, with low temperatures, many rainfalls and snowfall in winter and cool summers.

Metsovo is located 50 km. northeast of Ioannina and is the seat of the homonymous Municipality. It is built amphitheatrically at an altitude of 1,160 m. on the slopes of a sloping and steep part of the Central Pindos. It is located west and directly opposite the neck of the mount Zygos , which from the past is the boundary between the Northern and Central Pindos that continues with South Pindos (dolomite). But it is the “Gate of entry” from Epirus to Thessaly and Western Macedonia, and therefore an important transport hub. Among these mountainous parts of Pindos, a large valley is formed up to the village Anthochori which crosses Metsovitikos River and which, in the position “Baldouma”, is poured into the river Arachthos which springs from Zagorochoria.

Metsovo is surrounded by high mountains such as: Peristeri (2294 m), Mavrovouni (2160 m.), Zygos (1820 M.), Katara(1689 M.), Karakoli (1491 M.), Chrysovitsa (1559 m.), Tsouka Rossa or Kokkinorachi (1985 m.) in the NW of the artificial lake Aoos near Valia Calda Greece National Park(Attention: There is another Tsouka Rosha 2377 m. In the mountain range of Tymfi, on the border of the Vikos – Aoos National Park, next to the highest peak of Gamila).

The Metsovitikos River is born from two springs, which forms two streams that merge under Metsovo and just before Anilio, creating Metsovitikos River. From there, the river first moves to the west and then to the southwest, where, after about 25 km, it meets the Zagoritikos river at Baldouma and together they create the large river Arachthos. In the past, the rushing waters of Metsovitikos River moved ten watermills and sawmills.

North of Metsovo and in close proximity is the picturesque plateau Politsia or Politsies (Policuare). From old and to the present in the rich meadows of this site, during the summer months, graze sheep, goats, cattle, domesticated or free horses, donkeys and mules that are a wealth for the breeders of Metsovo. The name probably originated in the latin word Policia and was associated with a Roman military garrison that had settled there.

The Politsia Plateau was the favorite country site of Metsovites and in the old years, as the historian Panagiotis Aravantinos informs us, the wealthy Μetsovites enjoyed the landscape by staying in tents.

Today a large part of the plateau has been covered with water as in 1987 PPC constructed a hydroelectric dam. The artificial lake that was formed gathers the waters of the sources of Aoos River and the waters that gather in the plateau of Poliitsa.

HISTORY AND INFORMATION

The history of Metsovo begins in ancient years. The settlement is believed to have been built on the ruins of ancient Parorea or Kition. Moreover, from the second millennium B.C. it is reported that lived in the region of Metsovo, shepherds who spoke Greek, such as the Aethikes and perhaps the Tymfei people. The lack of archaeological findings, due to the fact that excavations have never been made, makes it impossible to mark the posts. The greek and roman facilities that were discovered in Koutsoufliani, Politses and Votonosi prove that the main crossing from the west to the east of Pindos has always passed through the region, that was of exceptional strategic and commercial importance. Besides, the various names of roman origin confirm the roman presence in the region, from 167 to 250 A.D.

The value of the strategic location of Metsovo and the fertile meadows of the region was very well understood by the Romans. After their victory against the Macedonians at the Battle of Pydna (22/6/168 BC) and the conquest of Epirus, followed by the total destruction of 70 molossians cities, in order to avenge the people of Epirus for their partnership with the Macedonians, the region of Metsovo not only did not destroy , but instead helped and even installed settlers. In addition they assigned the residents, alongside the employment in livestock breeding, and the role of the guard of crossings after Metsovo was the “Gate of entry” from Epirus to Western Macedonia and Thessaly. Some latin remnants in the local dialect are said to have been holding since that time, because it is said that in Roman rule there was an imperial palace where Octavia (the sister of the Emperor Octavian Augustus and wife of Markos Antonios (70-11 B.C. ) was spending her vacation. Some ruins that have been found in this position justify this aspect.

As an additional note it is that Odysseus, after the advice of seer Tiresias, had to go to a place where people did not know about the sea and they didn’t use salt in their food, to appease Poseidon with sacrifices, after the murder of the aspiring suitors of his wife Penelope. This position is placed, by the commentators of Homer, in the ancient city Vounima in Epirus, near the unknown city of Trabya, which Nicholas Hammond (a historian-classicist and scholar of Ancient Greece) places in the village Votonosi near Metsovo. So Odysseus settled here and founded the first pre-Hellenic sanctuary-oracle in which he was worshipped as seer. Of course, for the exact location of the ancient Trabya, there are many different opinions.

The tradition says that the habitation began from Kato Mahalas (area of Agios Dimitrios), where the first residential nucleus was created (1008), despite the steep slope of the ground. However, the first time that Metsovo (the town, not the region) referred to historical texts was in 1380 in the «Chronicle of Ioannina». Moreover, the privileges granted by Constantine Porphyrogenitus (913-959) and Andronikos Palaiologos (1328-1341) were addressed to a settlement with an organized society and not to pastoral nomads or to the guards corps of the crossings.

Many linguists, old and younger, dealt with the etymology of the word Metsovo. Of these two are the prevailings. The one who wants Metsovo to come from the Slavic words metz (= bear) and ovo (=mountain or village) namely village of the bear and the other from the Greek Mesovouni, Messobo, Metsovo (since it is located between the mountains of northern and southern Pindos). However, the oldest intellectuals of Metsovo claim that the name is derived from the river Mincio, which is near the town of Ambruce in Italy, a region from which originate both themselves and the Vlachs of Thessaly.

Noteworthy is the fact that from the 10th century and until the end of the 18th century, Metsovo is under preferential status. Constantine Porphyrogenatos was the first (913-959) and then Andronikos Palaiologos (1328-1341) granted privileges to Metsovo in the era of Byzantine domination. In 1430, privileges were granted to Metsovites by Sultan Murat II as a reward for the good behavior of the metsovites guards of Zygos (Katara pass 1.689 m.), when they facilitated the passage of the Turkish troops of Sinan Pasha, who headed to the Ioannina, obviously considering the resistance uneven and therefore futile and with dire consequences for themselves and for their place, exemplified by the city of Thessaloniki that had been resisted and destroyed, while its inhabitants had been sold as slaves.

These privileges, which were extended later in the villages of Syrrako and Kalarrites, were maintained for fifty years until 1480, when the Turks started to oppress the population by making in looting and killing of the inhabitants. Under this pressure Metsovo declared allegiance to the Turks and managed to be placed, like the other large Vlach villages, under the jurisdiction of Valide Sultana (Parenthesis: Valide Soultana (Valindte Sultan = Mother of the Sultan) was a title maintained by the mother of a practicing sultan in the Ottoman Empire. The position was perhaps the most important in the Ottoman Empire after the sultan himself). The power of Valide Sultana was such that no Turk dared to disturb a village that was under her protection. With this peaceful capitulation they made (1478), and giving the required tax lived very well and managed to advance.

Unfortunately from 1648 the Sultans began to remove from Valide Sultana the tax that was given by villages and estates, which offered to various distinguished warriors as a reward for their contribution to the military operations along with the title of Sipahi . (Parenthesis: In Islamic military terminology it originally meant the mounted warrior. The Spankers (Sipahi in the plural) were the members of the Cavalry battalions of the Sultans Army. After the conquest of vast regions by the Ottomans, and their peacemeal yield as tax feuds to the warriors, the Sipahi were identified with the lower tier of the Land Law system (timariotic system). This has gradually abolished the power of Valide Sultana and the autonomy regime. It was followed by a new predatory tax system, arbitrariness, oppression and child-gathering. During this period, Metsovo suffered from both the troops passing through the Zygos passage and the Albanian gangs which decimated mainly livestock farming.

Fortunately, in the middle of the 17th century, the fate of Metsovo completely changed. Greatest privileges from the previous were given to Metsovo in the year 1659 by Sultan Mehmet IV. According to the oral tradition, Kyriakos or Kyrgios Flokas contributed decisively to be granted by the Ottoman regime in the region, thanks to the favor of a Great Vizier, whom he helped in some difficult time. Thanks to these privileges, Metsovo and the surrounding villages constituted a kind of federation, an autonomous democratic state within the autocratic Ottoman Empire. These privileges were extended to the inhabitants of the villages around Metsovo ie Malakassi, Koutsoufliani (today’s Panagia), Milia and Votonosi.

The consequence of these privileges was that the oppressed or threatened Christians  flowed from many places and settled permanently in Metsovo. After the arrival of the new inhabitants, the village at the foot of the mountain was moved to its present location.

However these privileges were essentially tax and political arrangements and constituted a common tactic of the Ottoman regime.

It is a fact that the Μetsovites of that period were well versed in the Ottoman power system for this and for a century and a half managed to distract from Sultans decrees, through which they consolidated the right to exploit their own territory and which its own inhabitants called “Chora Metzovou”.

The mountainous passages that were rode nodes of particular strategic importance were also stations that developed under the general management system of the Ottoman Empire ,which for security reasons installed outposts, entrusting the operation and safekeeping to the residents of Metsovo. 

The Turks entrusted the guarding to the Metsovites and not the corps of the Armatoloi and Ottoman officialdom of neighbouring regions, because the corruption and inefficiency of the administrative mechanism of the Ottoman Empire was such that it would result in anarchy and the exodus of the inhabitants, without whom the service network was impossible to operate. The crossing was considered by the portal vital and interested not only the safety of travellers, such as maintaining a network of inns and transport services. The weather conditions during the winter and mainly at the higher points of the crossings were such that they risked not only the travellers but the Pashas with their cortege.

The various privileges granted to Metsovo and other important facilities were decisive for its demographic, economic, spiritual and cultural development. The development of important military, administrative and transport functions in the area where livestock breeders were there were breeders, it led to the growth of the population and the creation of communities which over time flourished.

Metsovo as a center of the region evolved from a livestock village to a craft city with significant growth of trade and folk art of the product concerned, which was not the same as the production of wool from the herds. Moreover, in this pivotal area of the crossings of the North Pindos, military functions have played an important role in the further demographic, social and economic flourishing.

Residents from Përmet, Gjirokastër, Agrafa, Erevená, even from Italy, settled in Metsovo. During this period Metsovo became a great craft, commercial and economic center and a place of concentration of the largest productive wealth of the region’s Tseligata.

The Metsovites, with the help of their powerful compatriots in Constantinople, were constantly striving to renew their privileges in every sultan change, trying to deal with the arbitrariness of the various Turkish officials neighboring areas who in every sultan change were trying to annihilate the power of privileges. Metsovo’s prerogatives, with the exception of the patriarchal monarchy that remained until 1924, were abolished by Ali Pasha in 1795 as a result of his practices that abrogated the power of the firm and made the area of Metsovo a tsiflik with other areas of Epirus.

Ali Pasha as was a grabber and loan shark used every means to increase his fortune. Under the pretense of protecting the shepherds from the robbers, he imposed taxes on them and slowly occupied their land forcing them to pay rent to graze their flocks there. Then became owner of numerous herds originated from the looting of the beys (Turkish rulers), whom had expelled from Epirus. In addition to the nearly six fold increase in taxation, he obliged the community to maintain an Albanian guard as well as porters for the transfer of people and animals of the ruling power during the winter months, through the Zygos crossing.

In 1795 Ali Pasha abolished all privileges except the Patriarchal Exarchate. Many communities lost their autonomy and were under the power of the local sipahi. The communities that resisted Ali Pasha were destroyed (Moschopolis, Nikolitsa, Linotopi). The era of Ali Pasha in the late 18th century marked the end of great farming. The conversion of land into tsflics (feudes) and the agricultural development of the Thessalian plain which concentrated the cultivation activity resulted in the weakening of livestock farming and consequently the decline of Metsovo and its conversion back into a village.

FURTHER HISTORY AND INFORMATION

Click on each title to learn more about the history of this traditional town

The liberation from the Turks came on 31 October1912, during the First Balkan War (30/9 / 1912-30 / 5/1913), when the Greek army entered Metsovo. The liberation of Metsovo was decisive for the overall outcome of the liberation struggle, since the occupation of Metsovo by the Greek army was a basic condition for the military occupation of the Ioannina. So, a few days later, two corps were launched to attack Ioannina. The first started from Metsovo in order to pass through the northern heights of Driskos. This consisted of volunteers from various places (Epirus, Crete, Ionian Islands, and Italy), totaling around 7,000 men headed by Lieutenant Major General Dimitrios Matthaiopoulos (1861-1927). The second was launched from Kalarrites in order to attack from the southern heights of Driskos and consisted of some 1,500 volunteers and Evzones  led by Cretan Colonel Aristotle Corakas. Both of these troops fought significant battles against the Turks, during which important militants were killed, like the two captains of the Cretan Scout Volunteer Corps, Balanos and Stylianos Kleidis from Crete known as Captain Kleidis (1874-1912), killed in the battle of Prophet Elias (10/11/1912) in the homonymous chapel in the northwest of Metsovo, where the Monument with the names of the nine fighters who fell here. . Klidi’s place in the battle was immediately taken by the Cretan theologian Christos Makris (1880-1912), a volunteer too, but he was killed a few days later in the battle of Driskos (28/11/1912). Another great fighter killed in the same battle was the poet Lorenzos Mavilis, whose tomb is in the area of ​​the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Tzioras outside the village of Mavilis. Mavilis volunteered to join the corp of the Garivaldi and wore the red tunic. The Garibaldi revolutionaries intervened in favor of any populacy who fought for its freedom. The war in Greece immediately became the new aspitation of the order, but the Italian government had a different opinion. Garivaldis leaved threatening that anyone who approached him to stop him would hit him. The Greek MP, Alexandros Romas, not only welcomed the Italians, but was personally in the front line and took part in the Battle of Driscus in November 1912 outside Ioannina. Garivald’s corp lost more than 200 men on the battlefield. But the Turks lost more than 1,400. 

World War II was one of the most important events of the 20th century and Greece’s entry into it was made by the Italians attacking the Greek-Albanian border. The intervention of Italian state for Epirus had existed almost since its inception and was imprinted at the Berlin conference in 1878, where he opposed the concession of any part of Epirus in Greece. Italy’s intervention in the region culminated in the Balkan Wars and its efforts to create an independent Albania, which was ratified by the signing of the Treaty of Rome on 8 May 1913 while threatening Greece to prevent the Greek army from advancing to Avlona. Tension later created in the area between Italian and Greek soldiers after the collapse of the Serbian army the Italians invaded Greek territory to the south and began occupying cities under Greek rule, such as Argyrokastro and Himara. This triggered an anti-Italian demonstration in Ioannina. However, the Italians continued their expansionist policy in Epirus taking advantage of the national divisions that existed then, where they first occupied Delvinaki and Kalpaki and then Konitsa.

The following year, in 1917, the Italian troops reached the Kalamas River and on May 26th they first occupied Ioannina and then in June Metsovo. Rome’s expansionist policy in Epirus, prompted Venizelos’ protests and Paris’ reaction, resulting in the withdrawal of the Italian troops.

Twenty three years after the first occupation of Metsovo by the Italians, they returned to claim the occupation of Epirus and Metsovo. On October 28, 1940, the Italian troops, concentrated on the Greek-Albanian border, invaded Greek territory headed towards Ioannina, while the Italian division Julia arrived on November 9, 1940 who were in the Vovousa outpost led to the defeat of the Italians, who could not reach Metsovo to cut off the Greek army of Epirus and so it was saved, after becoming the Italian target for second time. On the morning of October 29, Italian planes coming in three headed for Metsovo, which were bombarded from high altitude. Metsovo, with its strategic crossings, was the first settlement of the Greek territory which enemy air bombardments on the morning of October 28, 1940, to damage the Greek army’s supply depots. During the war of 1940 it was involved with an infantry battalion and during its period (28 October 1940 to 24 April 1941) Metsovo lamented victims.

In the first decade of April 1941, Germany declared the war against Greece to neutralize the defeat of the Italian troops by the Greek army. Greece failing to cope with the two forces, Italy and Germany, was obliged to sign a truce protocol with Germany in the village Votonosi of Metsovo on Easter Sunday, April 24, 1941. At the signing of the truce, the Greek army was represented by General George Tsolakoglou, while the Metropolitan of Ioannina Spyridon Vlachos was also present. Although according to the truce protocol the Italians were obliged to confine themselves to the Zitsa-Paramythia- Igoumenitsa line, the Germans did not adhere to what was agreed, with Metsovo again under Italian occupation for the second time in a period of twenty-five years.

In October 1943, Italy collapsed and the Italian troops in Metsovo were forced to abandon it and flee to Ioannina and through Albania to Italy. A few days later Metsovo was captured by a German military unit sent from Ioannina .In those days Metsovo mourned many victims, mainly civilians, either by repeated executions or by air strikes such as the one on July 3, 1943, which were the worst they had ever done.

The Germans remained for a whole year. During this time they committed a series of crimes against the civilian population culminating in the mass execution of eleven innocent breeders on June 22, 1944 in Politsies. During their stay, they repeatedly looted the Metsovites’ houses, after forcibly evicting the occupants. In October 1943, after the collapse of Italy, they took one hundred and twenty sheep from various small-scale farmers. At the end of October 1944 the Germans left Metsovo, obtaining various thefts, such as: clothing, wool, linen, furniture, kitchenware, sewing machines, which they moved to their homecountry. Thanks to Archimandrite Modestos Perschalis’ intervention with the German SS military commander two icons that removed by a German SS officer from the church of the Holy Trinity were returned and carried over to the church of Agia Paraskevi for safekeeping.

The end of the war found the country literally torn apart. Greece had one of the highest civilian casualties due to triple occupation (Italian, German and Bulgarian). At a time when the country was trying to heal wounds and orthoped, came the Civil War, which left its mark for years to come.

During the Civil War Metsovo found itself in conflict theater due to its geographical location The occupation of Metsovo was especially important for the DAG (Democratic Army of Greece) because communication between the north and the south would be a strategic advantage due to the possibility of improving the supply of the forces of Thessaly and Stereá Elláda (“Continental” or “Mainland” Greece) it would help the insurgents to act and allow the DAG to choose targets which were difficult to access in the National Army and would hinder its flexibility for military operations.

In October 1947, government forces combined serious pressure on the DAG in conjunction with the first mass arrests and evacuations of the countryside. The occupation of Metsovo would therefore allow the persecuted populations to be concentrated in a uniform mountain range where they would serve as backups. On the part of government forces, in Votonosi, on the ridge of the Megali Rahi till to Stavros site, on the highways of Metsovo and at the Balduma Bridge, were developed strong military forces.

The DAG would use for the operation forces of the Epirus Headquarter with two battalions whose mission was to isolate the site, destroy the outposts and ensuring free access for the persecuted militants and civilians to cross Sterea Ellada.

The main attack on Metsovo was to be carried out by the forces of the Western Macedonian Headquarters, with 4 reinforced battalions with the mission of occupying the town.

Attacks at all points started midnight on October 18th-19th. Epirus Headquarter succeeded in disarming the guards of Balduma Bridge, Stavros and many other villages and highlands, to overthrow the guards, capture many prisoners and seize valuable military equipment and supplies.

Metsovo was completely isolated since only the government army could supply the sections of the town with drops. The attack of the Western Macedonia Headquarter was decisive but insufficient since the Karakoli hill that dominated the town was impossible to be occupied with the means that DAG had.

The National Army strengthened its positions in Metsovo with military forces and independent army and gendarmerie divisions to overthrow the DAG. The DAG had in the meantime moved all the fugitives of Thessaly and Sterea in to the area of its ​​responsibility.

On November 2 and 6, a second attempt was made to occupy Metsovo with the attacks of the DAG, which were repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides. The National Army counterattack also had many casualties and both armies were tied in terms of positions with government forces far superior. This situation continued until the beginning of 1948 when the DAG gradually withdrew to strengthen the Grammos front.

During the Turkish occupation they started to create more permanent settlements mainly in inaccessible places, which also developed because of their location which provided them with relative autonomy and due to the tranquility of the strict discipline imposed by the Ottomans.

The assembly of the Vlach settlements begins when the Vlachs abandon pure nomadic life and become semi-groups (winter in lowland for the herds’ overwintering and summer on the mountains). Later, when a surplus of livestock products was created, these products were marketed and livestock crafting was developed and many Vlachs were traded.

In the matter of the Vlachs with regard to the etymology of the word, their origin, the group to which they belong, their hereditary and historical elements (origins), the views divided. However, the only point in which the views are agreed is that the Vlachs are a Latin-speaking population group.

The Vlachs are found in various Balkan regions (Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Turkey and the most of them in Greece). The main views on the etymology of the word “Vlahos” is that it comes from: a) the Palaeoslavic word Vlah which means the foreigner, the non-Slavic but the Latin speaking, b) from the German word Walachen, which means the foreigner, the non-German but the Latin speaking, c) from the Turkish word «fellah» which means peasant and d) it comes from the Greek word “vlihima” which means bleat.

The Aromanian language is based on the Latin, the Roman language, so it is only logical that research into the Vlachs’ origins begins with the study of Roman history. The Romans, after they began to gather strength, turned to ancient Greece and the Balkan Peninsula. In 229 BC they began their efforts to conquer the Balkans with the First Illyrian War which were completed in 106 AD with the conquest of Dakia. The decree of Caracalla’s , in 212 AD, also played a decisive role in the latinization of the Balkans, by which all the inhabitants of the Roman provinces acquired the right of the Roman citizen. Thus, military, economic, political and social considerations contributed to the Latin-speaking Balkans.

The majority of the Vlachs, both in their metropolitan area (Greece) and in the diaspora (around the Balkan countries), use the term “Armoun-Armouni” when they define themselves, in their own language, which occurs in various phonological variants and neologic types and refers to the latinization national of the Roman state.

The term “Armun” is a corruption of the Latin term “Romanus”, just as the term “Romios” is a corruption of the Greek term “Romaios (pronounced Romeos)”. However, these two terms are identical as they both designate, one in Latin and the other in Greek, the word “citizen” and later the “cultural heritage” of the Eastern Roman Empire, later Romanian, of the state and cultural entity best known to us by the neologic term Byzantine Empire. We should also know that the terms “Romania” and “Romanians” are probably two neologistic terms adopted by the Romanians only in the early 19th century.

The term “vlachos-Vlachi”, with the “v “ as lowercase letter, from the Byzantine times until today denotes those populations, not necessarily Vlach-speaking, dealing with livestock farming and especially its nomadic and semi-nominal forms. By extension, this term has reached to declare in Modern Greek language and many times in the Vlach language the nomadic farmer, the rude, the savage, the uncivilized and the hick.

Eventually, the term “Vlach-Vlachs” seems to be the most prevalent and probably the most appropriate one to identify the Vlachs. And this is because the Vlachs themselves prefer to use this term when defining themselves in Greek, while at the same time this term is understood and is in use in the other Balkan languages, as opposed to the terms “Aromun-Aromuni” which is unknown beyond the circles of the experts and of course the Vlachs themselves.

The name Koutsovlachs (koutsovlachic) comes from the Turkish words Küçük Wallach =Small Wallachia. So it was called Aitoloakarnania in the Byzantine era, as opposed to Büyük Wallachia = Great Wallachia as the region of Thessaly was called. The term was accepted as diplomatic.

“The term” Koutsovlach-Koutsovlachs ” whatever its etymological analysis, either from Turkish or Modern Greek, or despite its use for much more than a century, it is a failed composite and rather neologic term that furthermore seems offensive to the Vlachs” (Asterios Koukoudis).

The Vlachs throughout their historical route spoke the Vlachs (Kutsovlachs) as a second acquired language which survived in its oral form. Their language code was not written, but was sufficient to communicate with each other and it was a special instrument of understanding. At the same time a corresponding vocabulary was created which took a different form depending on their cultural and economic development and their relationship with the peoples that were geographically and culturally adjacent.

The first written testimonies come from Th. Kavaliotis and Daniel the Moschopolitis who wrote, besides religious and other texts, the first, a trilingual Greek-Albanian-Vlach dictionary of 1170 words and the second, a quadruple Greek-Albanian-Vlach-Bulgarian dictionary. Later a more systematic investigation of the Koutsovlach language followed with historical-folklore and linguistic works in both foreign and Greek literature (G. Weigand, A.Wace, M. Thompson, Ant. Spiliotopoulos, Mich. Chrysochou, Ant. Keramopoulos, Evag. Averoff, Tel. Katsougiannis, etc.).

The course taken by Greece’s Vlach communities was long and arduous with the official state maintaining a neutral to hostile attitude. From the 1960s and 1970s the Vlachs began their activity and their consolidation in the Greek area. Mostly those found in large urban centers have come together to form associations making known their existence, their history and their contribution to the nation in every aspect of the economy, nationally and spiritually, a fact that proves their identification with Hellenism . At the same time with the clubs, the research and writing interest which has enriched the literature on the Vlachs and their history has developed.

“Koutsoblach language, while spoken continuously in its closed social environment until 1860, then it was put to the test because of Romanian propaganda, to be put to the test. After the economic and demographic upheavals that took place in the northern parts of Greece in 1912, and mainly after World War II, the Κoutsovlach population began to abandon their traditional homes and his corresponding tradition. The result was to move to urban centers and thereby signify the shrinking of his linguistic idiom. However, it has survived well until the 1960s and 1970s.

Today, the koutsovlach language is barely spoken anymore and its absolute extinction is visible, more than ever. And since of course the bilingual Koutsovlahic population loses its acquired language and fully integrated into Greek-speaking, it also loses its name as “Koutsovlachi”, since his language was the only differentiators elements that characterized the peopleSo, by the end of the century, a centuries-old cycle of koutsovlach language is closing, as well as the historical role of the Koutsovlachs, who offered everything to the idea and vision of Hellenism with their invaluable national, economic and cultural activity” (Dr. Antonis Mich. Koltsida in his study «The current state of Koutsoblach language in Greece»).

Along the way, however, the aim of a portion are always promoted, developed and projected, which should constantly raise issues for political reasons. Frequent references are made to the Vlachs’ identity without their own collective consent, irredentist issues are created and intervene irrelevant bodies, without actually having the right. In addition various NGOs they are unquestioned patrons of the Vlachs’ rights, their history and their language, The Vlachs of Greece outnumber the other Vlachs living in the various Balkan countries as a healthy part of the national, social and cultural fabric. And no one can defend their interests except themselves and Greece in which they belong.

The Vlachs are particularly present in Epirus, Thessaly and Macedonia, without being a coherent geographical unit in any of these areas. The Vlachs originally lived in the various Vlach villages, known as metropolitan or primitive settlements. From the metropolitan hearths they moved as “diaspora” throughout Greece and, in part, to the Balkans, where they created either pure new Vlach settlements or co-existed with other non-Vlach populations.

There is a group of pure Vlach villages inhabited all year round (winter – summer), such as Metsovo, Matsuki, Livadi of Olympus, Klisoura, Milia etc. A second group, such as Samarina, Smixi, Avdella, Perivoli, Megala Livadia of Paiko etc., is inhabited only by very few farmers in the summer and by holidaymakers coming from these villages and visit their birthplace. Finally, there are villages that remain uninhabited or have a small number of inhabitants, 10-20, such as Nymfaio, Pisoderi, Syrrako, Chionohori of Serres etc.

The Vlachs should not always identify as breeders, because the first meaning of the term Vlachos is Latin speaking. All the subjects of the Roman Empire from Britain to the Bosphorus were Vlachs, where there is evidence of use of the Latin language, general or locally.

Most Vlachs are breeders and have a very long history. As to their origins, the views are divergent since there is no evidence to support historical evidence and the existing ones are disputed. Of course, the political dimension is involved in this as well, and it turns out to be a complex issue. However, the only point of view is that the Vlachs are a Latin-speaking population.

Some believe that they originate from the settlers established by Roman Trajan (53-117) in the early 2nd century in the Balkan Peninsula, when he conquered it. And, of course, over time they assimilated and hellenized, especially those who lived in Epirus and Thessaly.

Others still argue that all the Vlachs, regardless of their place of residence, are of purely Greek origin, that is to say, they are indigenous Greeks who were latinizated by the Romans, either because they served in the Roman army ,or because of work (scientists, traders, craftsmen, etc.), they came into contact with the Romans. The Romans also assigned them the guarding of some important road junction and mountain passes, and in rewardthey were given important privileges, such as practicing livestock in the dead periods. And from them come the Vlachs of Greece, the Greek Vlachs. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between, that the Romans brought in settlers but there were indigenous of Greek origin mixed with them and created a race, which developed into a constituent populacy with the same social and cultural traits.»

Finally there is the view that it was a tribe that lived in the Aegean Peninsula and was enslaved by the Bulgarians, when they occupied the area and used them in their army. And when later (9th century) the Bulgarians occupied more southern areas (e.g. Thessaly), the Vlachs followed them, apparently in the interest, and they settled there as well.

Their presence in a Greek place refers for the first time in 976 to the work of the Byzantine chronographer Ioannis Skylitzis, and in particular at the “Kalai Dryes” location between Kastoria and Prespa. In this work, Skylitzis calls them “Hoditae” from the word “odos”that means street, and apparently refers to wayfarers or street guards. From there they went up to the high mountains of Pindos, and especially to Peristeri (2294m), the highest peak and northernmost of the mountain range Lakmos of South Pindos, southwest of Metsovo. The reason that brought them here was not only the various predatory raids, but especially the abundant meadows, since the Vlachs have always been a breed of nomads or semi- nomads. But when they multiplied, they spread to the mountains of Zagori and Meropi in the area of ​​Pogoni, and gradually in the plains of Ioannina and Dropolis (present day Albania). This is evidenced by the various Vlach Vlachs place names, mentioned before 1319 in these areas, where they lived independently until 1333 until their submission to Andronikos III Palaiologos for the sake of their flocks, according to historian Ioannis Lambrides.

The creation of the Aromanian issue is set before the independence of the Wallachia and Moldova from the sovereignty of the Sultan.The causes of the issue were Romanian grandeur and the need to disorient the Vlach-Moldavians from the loss of Transylvania from Austria-Hungary and Bessarabia from Russia. Because any reaction to these Great Powers posed serious dangers to the hegemonies turned their attention to the Vlachs of Thessaly, Epirus and Macedonia whom they characterized of the same nationality. The creation of the Kutsovlach issue was first created in 1849. In 1863-64 it was officially supported by the Romanian government.

In 1860 the “Societatea culturala macedo-romana” was founded and its leaders with proclamations called for the establishment of the “Great Romanian State” in Macedonia, Epirus and Thessaly because they themselves were mostly inhabited by Romanians. The commune’s financial support was taken by the Romanian ruler Alexandros Kouzas with money from the numerous Greek monasteries in Wallachia, which he had confiscated.

In general, the aim of Romanian propaganda was first to attract the Vlachs of the regions of Macedonia, Thessaly and Epirus, with Greek consciousness, and secondly, the separation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the securing of ecclesiastical and educational autonomy.

With the signing of Eleftherios Venizelos at the Bucharest Conference, it is recognized by official Greece a religious and educational Romanian minority in the Greek territory in itself Macedonia, Epirus and Thessaly, in return for Romania’s support of our national laws, which the Bulgarians sought to usurp. The action of Eleftherios Venizelos, others regarded as a dishonest act against a part of the Greek population and others as a necessary diplomatic maneuver to secure Romania’s favor in our national law, but also to balance Bulgaria’s concession to Romania on the sidelines of the London conference. However, the price of Venizelos’ minority policy the Greek Vlachs paid very dearly in the following decades. After the Treaty of Bucharest (28/7/1913), which granted them ecclesiastical and educational privileges, somehow recognizing their claim, sent doctors and teachers and set up schools to teach the Romanian language, while making tempting sermons and rich offerings to the families that sent their children to them. It is understood that where these were not accepted, they were subjected to violence, pressure and persecution.

The Monk Averkios and teacher Apostolos Margaritis had a primary position in Romanian propaganda. All this propaganda was done with the support of the Ottoman government and the financial support of the Romanian state.

Despite the establishment of schools, boarding schools and financial support of poor families, the successes were not as expected.
Most of the villages of Epirus were strongly opposed.

Metsovo as the largest urban center of Vlach-speaking villages of the Pindos mountain range, received the greatest pressure from Romanian propaganda. But the Vlachs, especially in Metsovo, stubbornly resisted, insisting on their Greek origin and in Pindos’ residence from the very old years, thus completely obliterating all Romanian propaganda, which was based on false theories. Thus, the privileges granted to the Romanians were rendered almost useless. The Vlach resistance was so strong that even Romanian officials were eventually forced to accept it. In addition, scientists, through their research, have proven that all of these Romanian theories are incorrect and that all the Vlachs of Pindos are indigenous to Greek descent.

The Vlach villages’ economy was mainly based on livestock farming, keratziliki (transportation) and trade. At the time of their acne they had many thousands of sheep and goats and they were looking for lowland pastures. Cheesemaking was a secondary activity, complementary to livestock. The Vlachs earned income by trading their livestock and craft products (cheese, milk, wool, velentzes (bedspread, made of sheep’s wool (mainly) and goat’s), woven) at the fairs where the necessary agricultural products for their diet were supplied (wheat, oil, corn), since their farming was rudimentary.

From the 10th century the Vlachs appear under this name in historical sources were involved in guarding the areas assigned to them by the administration and in addition to farming. From the 5th to the 14th century livestock farming appeared in the form of nomadism, that is, seasonal transfer twice a year in spring and autumn

North Pindos’ Vlach villages were created by the merging of summer livestock facilities which in the course were transformed into stable mountain settlements and communities and livestock farming from nomadic to semi-nomadic.

The basis on which the Vlachs were based during the Ottoman domination, was the tselingato, which was a form of livestock cooperative consisting of many families living together and working together as part of a grouped seasonal movement. These members were sometimes related by relationship and sometimes there was no relationship. The categories of breeders were the tselinges who had many sheep, the smihtes who had less than tselinges and the shepherds who owned the least number of sheep.

The word tselingas comes from the Slavic word “celinik” which means the rich, the owner of numerous sheep and the term longer meant the leader of the “tselingato” community. The office of tselingas was not necessarily a hereditary right, but there were cases where the office was generally accepted by the most capable. Tseligas was the person that represented the tseligato and he handled all the cases, therefore, he had to be at least fluent in writing and reading. He also represented the tseligato in renting the meadows, contacts with cheese dealers, feed supplies so he was exempt from pure livestock farming (milking, grazing, etc.).

However, the impression that the Vlach communities were always associated exclusively with livestock does not reflect the reality. The Vlachs’ identification with livestock, and indeed with its nomadic forms, was the result of much of their historical, economic and cultural evolution, but also their adaptation to the environment and political conditions. The economic conditions and the need for survival led the Vlachs to develop and identify with the nomadic livestock more than others.

The Vlachs of Pindos were moved twice a year in summer to the highlands and in winter to the lowlands. A landmark for his movements was in the autumn after the feast of Agios Dimitrios descending on the lowland pastures for the winter season and in the spring after the feast of St. George they went up into the mountain pastures for the summer months. In the old days, when the journey lasted for days and there were great dangers, the course of the journey was determined: the men were going forward, armed, following the animals loaded with their belongings and the women and children and finally armed men again. The animals were followed by grazing, guarded by armed men and sheepdogs. When there was no danger the sheep followed grazing, guarded only by shepherds and sheepdogs.
Damianakos (2003) reports that there was a close interdependence between the pastoral and the predatory world. Several bandits found shelter in the tsiligato, where they often looted the booty. The main source of supply was the gang, while providing it with the necessary protection.
Several bandits found shelter in the tselingato, where they often invested with the loots. The fold was the main source of supply for bandits who provided the necessary protection at the same time.

Tselingas’s relationships with the shepherds who worked on his tselingato became over time completely dependent. Tselingas with his financial power was the patron at the social and political level and his subordinates secured, in addition to economic, political and social security, due to the interconnections of tselinges with powerful individuals inside and outside the region. Of course they could have had financial security, but there was no way they could get rich.This domination of the tselinges at the economic and social level created a divide between the rich and the poor.

Since the 18th century, Metsovo’s network of transporters and resellers was so developed that it provided work to unemployed young people who preferred this job with the prospect of getting rich, despite being involved in livestock farming, which made them loyal to the sentiments of the ruling class which controlled at that time the livestock of Metsovo.

Since the 18th century, Metsovo’s network of transporters and resellers was so developed that it provided work to unemployed young people who preferred this job with the prospect of getting rich, despite being involved in livestock farming, which made them loyal to the sentiments of the ruling class which controlled at that time the livestock of Metsovo.

Another solution, at the beginning of the 20th century, was to immigrate to the Americas, which had taken on a large scale in the Balkans. Many members of the livestock community emigrated with the ultimate goal of financial independence and the creation of a herd. Most, however, did not succeed.

The agricultural reform began in 1917 and lasted for decades. The reforms were aimed at abolishing the system of tsiflics, the expropriation of land and its distribution to farmers. These reforms had the impact of the abolition of the tsiflik and the decline of the tselingato

Land distribution meant the conversion of old pastures into arable lands, resulting in a reduction in grazing. Pasture rents were oversubscribed compared to previous ones, the lack of sufficient pasture was a problem and intensive cultivation made it difficult for the herds to pass.

Farmers, on the other hand, combined agriculture with static farming using farmland suitable for grazing their own animals.

These developments have resulted in changes in the course of the Tseligades from which others invested their wealth and economic activity in land ownership ,prolonging for a while the life of the tselingata, others invested their money buying agricultural land in Thessaly, many have invested in commerce and the urban profession and some of the wealthy have abandoned the semi-nomadic lifestyle and settled in lowland villages or urban centers.

Important for the livestock community has been the fact that the process of distributing land to landless farmers, gave the possibility to poor families to acquire land ownership. Many families abandoned semi-nomadism and community in the 1920s. These were the poorest and most oppressed part of the community who first took advantage of the opportunity to break free from the tyranny of the tseligades. Some of them migrated and did not return.

The reform and all the above developments have had an impact not only on the nomads but also on the national economy, because, on the one hand, a vital part of the country was in danger, on the other hand, some of the mountainous areas unsuitable for any other use would remain unused. And it was also politically significant because in those areas that are usually in border areas housing is needed for defense, demographic and socio-political purposes.

The government took steps to resolve the problem, in 1930, by law for the protection of breeders concerning rental rights and in 1938 with the enactment of a decree allowing semi-breeders to be registered to the lists of communities where they were overwintering. With these measures, many small-scale farmers acquired their own pastures and were given credit in the form of loans. In this way the large mass of breeders became independent.

The period from the agricultural reform to the Civil War was a transitional one.

The tseligata were replaced by co-operatives that were more equitable and there was equality and universal participation in the decisions.

The war gave the death blow to all these reform changes. The Second World War and then the Civil War greatly affected the community.

One of the economic activities traditionally undertaken by gamblers to supplement the income of their poor households and the way to repay their debts to the tselinges was the keratziliki (keratzis or agogiatis was the mule driver, muleteers, carriers of people and goods).

The transport (the keratziliki ), which was the first stage in the development of the Vlachs’ commercial activity, forced them to move beyond those of the livestock activity and enabled them the option of a parallel rudimentary switching trade for their own benefit. It arose from the need to move farms and their herds over long distances to find grazing meadows for the winter (winter) and return them to the summer meadows. The job of the hunters was to pay for the transport of goods, goods and people by means of transport animals (horses, mules).

According to Vasilis Nitsiakos the keratzides, because of their direct dependence on the livestock sector, because of their direct dependence on the livestock sector. Theatziliki was exercised supplementally by them to increase the income from livestock farming. Of course, he notes that the first resistance to the domination of the tselingades came from the professional team of keratzides, the period when the tseligato course had taken its downfall. The nature of this occupation, which involved small-scale trade as well as transportation and their contact with persons, ideas and situations completely different from the well-known, worked alert in the consciousness of the keratzides.

The muleteers of Metsovo were one of the most important Ottoman professional carrier groups. In the Ottoman territory, and especially in the Balkans, the movement of goods was carried out almost exclusively by mules. The number of animals kept by the agogiates varied according to the species and the distances they covered. However, even the agogiates that carried out only local transport services maintained at least five mules.

From 1707 on written testimony meets a professional guilt of the Metsovite muleteers which makes this occupation possible from earlier times. Substantial information is available from the mid-17th century onwards, attesting to the presence of Metsovite tradesmen in Constantinople and Venice

Witnesses from local sources say they appear on the Metsovo market as sellers of products available in specific parts of the settlement. Their donations and sponsorships to monasteries and temples reveal an economic surface and even extend to systematic participation in the local church. The political, tax and ecclesiastical self-management enjoyed by locals since the mid-17th century, highlights the agogiates and especially the peddlers (or tradesmen?) of Metsovo as the most affluent status class, and gradually rank them in the ruling social class. In the agogiates guild many members of the same family participate in public fundraising in the form of loans from the local church. Church money was one of the incentives for the ruling social group to become involved in its management and sometimes served as a credit buffer to meet its financial needs.

In the 18th and 19th centuries they form one of the most active groups in the freight transport industry in the Balkans. In the last quarter of the 18th century there is evidence of the commercial activity of the Metsovites and their commercial community is known as well as their activity in a wide geographical area. The two groups, keratzides and tradesmen , coexist equally throughout this trading period. The proximity to Ioannina, which was one of the most important commercial centers of the Ottoman period, worked positively because the transit of products to and from Ioannina was carried out mainly by the Metsovo ,keratzides, after the mountain passes passed through Metsovo, while the Metsovite traders, with their home base as their activities, first supplied the Ioannina market. The Metsovo passes were used to carry out the bulk of their trade with western Greece. At the beginning of the 19th century the trade of Metsovites entered its most dynamic phase with the limits of their activity limits to extend between Moscow, Cairo, Malta, Livorno and Trieste, with a permanent commercial presence in many cities(Corfu, Serres, Plovdiv, Odessa, Brod, Moscow, Petersburg, Sevastopol, Thessaloniki, Chisinau, Iasi, Galatsi, etc.) and occasionally at the festivals or markets of Sistov, Ouzudjova, Rostov, Orsova, Izmir, Cyprus, and Damascus. Constantinople, Bucharest and Vienna are the cities with the largest concentration of Metsovite traders. In addition, Alexandria is the new overseas trading center and the nature of trade is now at a new stage. Many Metsovite traders have set up trading houses abroad dealing in every form of import and export trade.

They import the skins of large animals (oxen, buffaloes, cows), supplied from areas of the northeast Balkans, with an important part intended for immediate sale in the workshops (or labs?)of Epirus mainly of Ioannina and Arta They mainly export tobacco, silk, oil, as well as pearls, jewelry, gold and silver to the Danube Hegemonies. The metals were traded in times of monetary crisis as a substitute for a parallel but permanent element of trade the conducted and involved currency exchange. The circulation of many types of currencies and the differences in exchange rates left considerable room for speculation.

In the first decade of the 19th century all forms of fur were imported through Bucharest, which were promoted in Epirus, Thessaly, Macedonia, Constantinople, Danube Hegemonies and southern Russia, while cotton yarn is exported to Russia from Smyrna and silk from regions of Epirus. At the same time, quantities of American cotton as well as gold or silver yarn produced in Russia and Poland are being promoted. In the 1820-1830 agricultural products of the Danube regions were exported to Constantinople and cities of southern Russia. Products move through the Black Sea ports and the expansion of their trade partnerships now reaches the distant trading networks of their compatriots. They mainly deal with the movement of products abroad and rarely with agricultural products in Greece. Their departure from the traditional markets of their home country is a fact arising from the economic decline of Epirus and the wider region and due to the clashes of the Ottoman troops with Ali Pasha, the ensuing anarchy and banditry, the plague and the Greek revolution.

The result is a concentration of Metsovite traders in the Black Sea ports where they built warehouses to collect the products and charter boats for their transport and also rent in the Danube Hegemonies large landholdings owned by individuals or monasteries for the purpose of exporting their agricultural products At this stage, which dates from 1830 to 1850, several of their compatriots are hired as supervisors or stewards of these lands.

Commercial activity, although it was the most important source of their income, however, they were always looking for other business opportunities dealing with financial transactions, as renters of fish farms, salinities, mines (salt or metal), as postal administrators but also as suppliers to the Ottoman army and palaces in Constantinople. Those who lived or returned to Metsovo bought fields, meadows, vineyards, inns, they invested in animal feed and in the management of their home tax system. Many of their business risks led to bankruptcies that were particularly noticeable between 1830 and 1840, which was the prelude to their impending decline.

On the one hand the new political and economic developments in the Balkans and in the wider European area, the establishment of new national states in the Balkan Peninsula and the inability of the Metsovites to respond to the new circumstances led to their destruction from the countries’ trade that operated until then. Their last funds were spent either by making inefficient purchases of agricultural areas, mainly in the Thessalian plain, or to charities in the capital of the new Greek state, thus demonstrating their need to join a new elite.

From the 16th century, in Metsovo appeared to be the only activity that brought wealth to the livestock society of the time was the trade of wool and other livestock products. This development was the result of three factors related to the livestock lifestyle: first the herd, which formed the basis of livestock farming, then the wool that was the product of the activity and finally the craftsmanship of the processing of raw materials for the manufacture of clothing, weaving and bedding, which led to the development of trade and export.

The Ottoman state, wanting to cover immediately its needs in certain livestock products, had introduced a special tax on large herds, known as tzelepiko (resm-iagnam-Icelebkeşan). The tzelepiko was a tax obligation that encumbered the sheep holders and consisted of the compulsory sale of a certain number of animals at prices set by the butcher guilds of Constantinople and were lower than the current in the market. It aimed at supplying the army and the expeditionary troops with live lamb and goat meat, given the maintenance conditions of the season they did not allow meat to be slaughtered and transported

It was an indirect form of taxation and is part of the practice used by the Ottoman administration to require the provision of services or special significance goods by the residents of selected areas on terms that did not comply with the rules.

Its payment in kind and its collection exclusively by the State led to the establishment of a special mechanism for its handling. The people who made up him were called celeps and were responsible for collecting the herds corresponding to the tax obligation of the breeders. The need for a flexible corp for the supply and delivery of the number of animals required to consume in a reasonable time, had resulted in the farmers gradually becoming involved in the mechanism of reimbursement of this tax. And independent producers became herd merchants of the state, and appertained to the upper classes of the empire constituting a kind of privileged class. The relationship with the state gave them access to the state machine, which helped their vigorous commercial activity and enrichment. Together they were the leading group that managed the Metsovo’s regime, which, perceiving the margins of speculation, often became yet another mechanism of exploitation of the rural world.

The increased demand for meat to cover the needs of the Ottoman state meant thriving livestock growing at the expense of agriculture- which was on a downward course- occupying lands for pastures.

The tzelepiko reflected a practice of the Ottoman administration which, through the compulsory sale of sheep at prices far above those of the market, depreciated financial resources, practicing a form of special taxation.

The financial size of tzelepiko and the profit margins that left made focused on Ali Pasha’s interest, which incorporated it into his income growth strategy, considering it as a viable source of wealth. It is even characteristic that in an unsuspecting time his son Velis Pasha in a letter to his father characterizes it as the first income of the house.

he participation in the management of tzelepiko required power that small traders did not have. Ali Pasha’s people were suitable because they were using his own power and balanced between diverse local disputes and conflicting interests.

The collection and management of tzelepiko has been a lever for the expansion and expansion of Ali Pasha’s network, because it enabled him to get involved directly with local affairs. At the same time, it has initiated a deepening of its contacts with the mountain livestock communities as well as with the nomadic stock breeders, a world that is largely untamed and familiar with the use of weapons.

The participation of the Metsovite breeders in the supply of the empire was certified from 1659 to 1818, between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Water was a decisive asset for the composition, operation and evolution of the settlement, which was developed next to streams and was a symbol of pride, both for the community, as well as for private donors and providers. In addition, water resources and water supply were the subject of Community concern with a competent the Water care officer. In the 19th century, every neighborhood, except its parish church, had public fountains to serve households. In some cases, there were important mansions, such as the Averoff family’s, that had secured a source within the property itself.

In addition, the fountains were traditionally the gathering place for women, where most of the day was spent. At the fountains were washed every Saturday the clothes, the copper and wooden utensils of the household, vegetables before making the pies, there was the place where the animals watered, and they filled the wooden kegs with water for the family and the needs of the household.

Today there are about twenty-five fountains scattered throughout Metsovo and most of them are reconstructed. Today they may not be a meeting point but they are certainly traditional monuments and characterize the life of a society. Each with its own name, its own construction, and its own history are important elements in following the cultural path and evolution of the settlement.

Greek culture, Greek thought, poetry, philosophy, and sciences were born in ancient Greece through sponsorship and benefaction. In the ancient Greeks’ perception, beneficence, was a social model.

The Epirotes are the greatest benefactors of the nation, and especially during the harsh period of Ottoman rule, their benefits were crucial to the survival of the race and have been catalysts for its national rebirth. Education and spiritual uplifting contributed to the processes of liberation of Greece and its social and economic recovery.

All these wealthy Greeks engaged in trade and shipping business aimed at profit. When needed, however, some of their wealth was returned as a moral debt to the Greek nation. Although many of them lacked elementary education, they provided significant sums of money for the development of education and culture. Their well-being continued after the establishment of the modern Greek state in the difficult period of its reconstruction by financing the fields of education, justice, national security and social welfare, bypassing the weakness and sometimes indifference of the state.

The most well-known monument institutions of Metsovites National Benefits are:

Kallimarmaro or Panathenaic Stadium of Athens: It was built in 1895 by George Averoff, who offered 2,000,000 gold francs. The first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896.

Averofios Evelpidon School (Military Academy): The whole complex of buildings was donated by George Averoff (1900-1904). . Today the Courts of Athens are housed with the exception of a section called “Averofio”, which remains owned by the Ministry of National Defense and houses the National Defense School).

National Technical University of Athens. Work by the Metsovites George Averoff, Nikolaos Stournara and Michael Tositsa, with drawings by Lysandros Kaftatzoglou (1878). The total amount donated by the Metsovite benefactors reaches 2,500,000 drachmas, an amount comparable to the budgets of the then Greek State.

National Bank of Greece. It was founded by George Stavrou, who together with the philhellenε John Eynard contributed more to its founding (1841).

Tositseio Athens School of Girls. Foundation built by the legacy of Michael Tositsa.

National Library. One of its founders and its first benefactor was Dimitrios Postolakas. In 1836 he donated to the library 1995 volumes of many archetypes and many early editions.

National kapodistrian University of Athens. Huge sums were donated by Duba Stergios and Michael Tositsas for its operation. The University has therefore declared them benefactors.

Also the Vlach benefactors didn’t confine the benefactions only in Greece alone, but instead endowed with foundations and other centers of Hellenism. Specifically, in Alexandria, the Tositeios School and the Averoffio Gymnasium were founded.

But among the great offerings there were also the small ones, which were characterized by patriotism and the desire to offer, not by the surplus, but by the short supplies

The strong historical, cultural and religious element of the Metsovites is reflected in Metsovo’s cultural activities. The fourteen churches that exist in Metsovo and the area show the deep religiousness of the inhabitants The religious festivals, dedicated to the Saints, are celebrated with splendor and are inextricably identified with the tradition of the place. Religious festivals gather people from everywhere.

On July 20, there is a festival of Prophet Elias in the area of ​​Politsies in Metsovo.

On July 25-26, is the celebration of Metsovo’s patron Agia Paraskevi. Men and women dressed in Metsovite costumes dance and sing Vlach songs, continuing the habits and customs of Metsovo society. August 15 is the Feast of the Virgin Mary and is celebrated in the Monastery of the Virgin Mary.

On July 24-26, “Aniliotika” is held in Anilio Municipal District, events on the occasion of the feast of Agia Paraskevi. The events include long evening feasts with municipal or folk bands and a traditional dance program, as well as presentation of a traditional dance program by the village dance club. An additional “Breeders’ Night” is being organized on July 25, featuring a presentation and awards of the village’s best animals.

The last weekend of July takes place the so-called “Pihtios Walk” which includes an overnight stay at Location Lakos on Mount Mavrovouni at an altitude of 2000 m with dances, songs and roaring fires.

On a Sunday morning, a three-hour walk to the “Aftia Flega ” site takes place for enjoying the stunning sunset against the backdrop of the Valia Calda National Park.

On the 15th of August at the feast of the Virgin Mary, in the central square of Metsovo, folk songs are performed with the free participation of the residents and visitors.

Ursa Trail -In the footsteps of the Bear

Since 2013 a mountain running event has been established which is an opportunity for people from all over the world to get to know the nature of the Metsovo region in the best way and experience the beauty of the mountain trails and get in touch with the place and its people.

The idea and organization is inspired by Nikos Kalofyris, a resident of Metsovo and an athlete himself with performances, contributions and awards.

The trails pass through the habitat of the brown bear in a virgin nature of stunning beauty. It is an event that brings together top performers from all over the world.

In 2018 and for the first time the addition of the 100K Ultra Ursa Trail, a demanding route, has been a success. In 2019 on the Ursa Trail, racing tracks and new trails were added, and the 11km race with a slight elevation difference gave young and older athletes the opportunity to enjoy a less tedious ride.

Dances

During the Turkish occupation, engagement, weddings, baptisms, and celebrations were opportunities for the Metsovites to have fun and always among a small circle of relatives or friends. The common dances, which could be attended by all the inhabitants of every social class, took place almost on Sundays, holidays and official days, in appropriate places depending on the season and year. During the winter months they preferred sunny places in the lower neighborhoods, such as the churchyard of Agios Dimitrios, Agios Charalambos, Agioi Pantes (All Saints) etc.

These public dances of men and women, were small and circular, always preceded by men and followed by women. Customs were strict and never a man, if there was no kinship, didn’t hold a woman’s hand, but it was held by a scarf.

There were no dances in downtown Metsovo to prevent the Turks from looking at them. The Turks were forbidden to attend, so they were peeking at the dancers. Of course, the Metsovites also considered the Turks to be an insult to them, so they broke up the dance. Great and grandest dances took place every Sunday in the Holy Trinity in the place (pante maré), far from the eyes of the Turks.

The call to dance happened around 3 or 4 noon before the bell hit A band of ten or more organists was going up the Agia Paraskevi square (koultouki), to the dance meeting point, after the Metsovo center was raised up by the davul. The young shepherds waited for the organists in the Holy Trinity’s churche to dance before the big ones start. The dances were sigathistos and circular. In the sigathistos dance, couples were strictly in the same family environment. Then came the great dance that the nobilities by age and social status opened.

Relatives and friends of the dance leader were calling on the organ players to honor the dancer and stuck to the front coins.

The girls’ dance was at the end of the big dance, and many of the spectators (parents, relatives and boys) wanted to delight them.

When dusk begun to fall the young shepherds and the labouring boys whistled together giving the slogan of the dance dissolution.

From liberation to the present day there have been some changes in the way and time the dances were performed. The group festive dances reduced and they don’t exist, as before, every Sunday.

From a circle that was dance becomes double, with one series of men and one of women. Married women are now participating in the girls’ dance.

The first of the dance is some honorable person such as Mayor, President, Grandfather and Father. The nobles dance mostly slow rhythms, and the lower class dance more cheerful and fast rhythmic dances.

The celebratory dances take place today and have a great participation, in the central square of Metsovo, or in the culture (courtyard of Agia Paraskevi).

There are two types of dances: A) Circular Dances, which are imposing and have different variations and B) the Sigathistos Dance which is a chain of dances with different rhythm-form-melody in each of them individually.It is danced by men and women freely, with the dancers moving counterclockwise, turning the body left-right.

The folk songs of Metsovo

They are distinguished in: Kleftika – Historical, Love songs, Table songs, Emigration songs, wedding songs, and social songs.

ARCHITECTURE

The settlement of Metsovo is dense and closed, built on a slope with folds and a steep slope and with southeast orientation. As a single-central settlement It develops around the square, which is located about and in its geographic center. The settlement is crossed by two main roads, which are perpendicular to each other. In addition there are smaller secondary roads, for the service of the settlement. It consists of six neighborhoods (mahalades), in each of which there is a church, but no similar squares are formed. The commercial, administrative and social activity is concentrated in the central square (cafes, public buildings, church, fountain) In which is the largest church of the settlement Agia Paraskevi. In the village there are a total of 13 churches. In the south part of the square is a hill. During the Ottoman rule, there was a fortress built by the Turks in 1868, which the inhabitants destroyed after the Liberation (1912). Today, there is a hill that is exploited as a recreation area and Green Park.

The traditional architecture of Metsovo broadly follows the local architecture of Epirus. The construction of the buildings is made with stone walls for better insulation while inside (internal walls, floors, ceilings) is used the wood which on the one hand acts as thermal insulating and on the other hand is the material that abounds in the area because of the extensive forests.

All the walls of the house (and the internal ones) are made from masonry, except those that have many openings and some of the last floor where they are used the tsatmas (wooden construction) and the bagdatí (internal masonry). The floorings on the floors are wooden and the basements are earthen or paved. Fireplaces have a small skylight in their interior, so they can see better in cooking, or see when it’s dawn. The roof is protruding around the building about 0.50-0.70 M. The protrusions of the sahnisia (protrusions based on wooden beams) often cover the wider breadth of the road and the feeling of the enclosed space is even more pronounced in the already narrow streets. In addition, there is a single-room hut that is used as a housing for the herds.

The Metsovite house is divided into two types. The first is the three-storey and it is the popular residence, while the second is the four-storey and is the manor house.

The tripartite house is two- storey and has a basement which is used as auxiliary space while on the ground floor there are the sarai, ontas and hotziares. Also in the basement are the auxiliary spaces (stable, cellar). The Sarai is the reception area while the Ontas operates as a winter living room, as a sleeping and cooking area. On the south side is the fireplace. Right and left of the fireplace there are wooden basia (Large oblong divan with pillows). The basi is a characteristic element of the Metsovite house that serves to sit during the day while the evening turns into a bed. It is covered by woven, embroidered bedding or heavy warm bed covers, in winter.

The hotziares is the summer house room, the reception area and the space with the most windows. Its ceiling is the finest part of the house. Externally there is a small courtyard, which is surrounded by a high wall.

The four-space mansion is also two-storey with auxiliary spaces on the ground floor and the basement and the rooms to stay on the floor (sarai, ontas, hotziares, hidden). The hidden or angular is located in the opposite corner from the entrance and is clearly the place of residence. The access to the space is done through the ontas and between mesantres and thus the impression of the hidden space is created. The four-space house has also a courtyard, but larger.

The orientation of the houses is generally southeast, so that depending on the seasons it takes advantage of the sun. The ontas is used by the family in winter, while in the summers the hotziares ensures more coolness due to ventilation than most openings.

In the interior of several houses, mansions mainly, there is a rich painting decoration. The interior decoration of the house, possibly covering the need of the residents to make more interesting the space in which they spent housebound many months the winter.

Metsovo until the decade of 1960 maintained its traditional physiognomy which gradually began to lose. In the same decade and after the creation of the ski center the efforts of the Baron Michael Tositsa focused on building the first traditional buildings and to finance other, churches and monasteries were restored and traditional fountains and cobbled streets were made.

Unfortunately, the latest interventions in the old traditional buildings with low cost materials, the various defects and arbitrariness, and the intense construction activity of the last few years altered the physiognomy of the settlement.

In 1976 Metsovo was designated as a settlement in requiring of special state protection and only some buildings in the settlement, the watermill and the monastery of Panagia are characterized as historically preserved monuments.

No one can deny that Metsovo as a featured traditional settlement kept many of the elements of its interesting architecture. Walking away from the center, among the new buildings there are some mansions and folk houses, which are indeed architectural diamonds and fully harmonized with the landscape. Many of them are abandoned and ready to be demolished and others unfortunately collapsed. It is a pity to be forgotten because that’s what tradition is.

ACTIVITIES

In such an area the activities are many and varied. Metsovo is located in North Pindos which is a place where mountaineering and hiking are unique experiences. The routes and trails starting from Metsovo and well-marked, are numerous and have scalable difficulty. Crossing one of the most beautiful areas of Epirus in the Valia Calda (warm valley) National Park which is the brown bear’s habitat, they offer breathtaking pictures of nature.

From the area of ​​Metsovo passes the European Trail E6, on its way from Igoumenitsa to the country’s eastern border. Two of its most interesting parts are the city of Metsovo as a hub.

A very nice road trip is the tour of Lake Aoos as well as visiting the nearby Metsovo villages.

Metsovo Race

The Metsovo Athletic Club has been organizing the Ursa Trail and in the footsteps of the Bear running track in Metsovo since 2013. These races have become an institution for the region and it brings together athletes from Greece and not only. The goal of the organizers through the design of the route is to bring the athletes through into the bear’s habitat and make them aware of environmental issues and brown Bear.

The route goes through old trails that have been cleaned with a lot of volunteer work and can now be used not only by the athletes on race day but also by everyone for hiking or mountaineering. Race info:

Metsovo Race: The Metsovo Athletic Club has been organizing the Ursa Trail and in the footsteps of the Bear running track in Metsovo since 2013. These races have become an institution for the region and it brings together athletes from Greece and not only. The goal of the organizers through the design of the route is to bring the athletes through into the bear’s habitat and make them aware of environmental issues and brown Bear. 

The route goes through old trails that have been cleaned with a lot of volunteer work and can now be used not only by the athletes on race day but also by everyone for hiking or mountaineering.  Race info: www.metsovorace.gr 

The Mountaineering Clubs and the organized mountaineering shelters in the area provide the visitor with all the information about the trails. 

During the winter months the ski resort of Anilio has easy and direct access via Egnatia Motorway (just 7km from the Anilio Exit) and snow removal services on a 24-hour basis. Located in altitude 1,790m. at the place “Guzel Tepe” (a name that has existed since the Turkish occupation and in Greek means beautiful mountain ridge). 

 The Mountaineering Clubs and the organized mountaineering shelters in the area provide the visitor with all the information about the trails.

During the winter months the ski resort of Anilio has easy and direct access via Egnatia Motorway (just 7km from the Anilio Exit) and snow removal services on a 24-hour basis. Located in altitude 1,790m. at the place “Guzel Tepe” (a name that has existed since the Turkish occupation and in Greek means beautiful mountain ridge).

Artificial lake of Aoos springs

Near Metsovo and at an altitude of 1340m on the northern slopes of Zygos, on the Politses plateau, lies the mountainous artificial lake of the springs of Aoos River amidst an idyllic landscape with lush pastures surrounded by high mountains with dense forests of fir, beech, black pine and pinus leucodermis. Its altitude ranks it as the most mountainous lake in Greece. It is located between two National Parks, Valia Calda and Vikos-Aoos. Mavrovouni, Flega and Tsuka Rosa rise to the north while hills and forests around Chrysovitsa and Metsovo extend to the south. The shoreline of the lake is large and lacy with beautiful wooded small fjords and many islets forming inland.

The lake was built in 1987 on the Politses Plateau to generate electricity, gathering water from the springs of the Aoos River, as well as runoff from the Politses plateau, but without any provision for ecological benefits. The reservoir grows in the area of ​​the Politses plateau.

The lake along the way has become a very unique habitat. Large meadows, dozens of small streams with steady water flows, small natural lakes and beech forests that start almost off the shores make the area particularly important for many species of fauna and flora.

The lake is ideal for amateur fishing, with special permission, and regulations, or for swimming, although the waters are frozen due to altitude. Also offered for a lovely roundabout ride on the lakeside road by car, bike or horses.

The area which is one of the most beautiful mountainous areas is being degraded due to human factors. The unreasonable digging of forest roads by the Public Power Corporation and the Forest Service, the intensive grazing that has eroded the land in many places, the movement of agricultural vehicles in every part of the meadow, the improvised stable facilities and the illegal hunting and fishing, are hazards that threaten the natural environment of the area and reduce its aesthetic value. In addition, the reckless operation of the Hydroelectric Dam by the Public Power Corporation comes to complement the series of ecological crimes.

The stunning beauty of the landscapes, the cultural heritage, the heavy historical background, the events that keep the tradition alive, the production of local products that support the economy of the region, the love of the Metsovites of diaspora who helped develop and finance the country’s education, health and culture projects, are the credentials of this mountain community.

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