A traditional settlement
One of the most beautiful and picturesque villages of Ioannina Prefecture and all of Epirus, which impresses from afar with its gray stone houses that are perched on the slope. Syrrako is declared to be a traditional settlement. It is a typical traditional village, a model of traditional architecture with stone houses, cobbled streets, churches, stone fountains and public buildings, which are creations of renowned craftsmen. Together with the neighboring Kalarrytes they are the only villages that keep this architecture unchanged in the south of the prefecture of Ioannina.
History and Information
It is located at an altitude of 1200 meters east of Ioannina and at a distance of 52 km. The historic settlement is built at the foot of Mount Peristeri (Lakmos) on the pristine slopes of Prixa. It is separated from the Kalarrytes with a deep ravine, of unparalleled beauty, flowing through the river Chrousia or Kalarrytikos, a tributary of Arachthos, and is, due to its dry and healthy climate, an ideal place for a summer residence. On its three sides, it is surrounded by wild ravines that fortify it. It was inhabited before the 15th century by Greek Vlach speakers of the southern Pindos team. In 1450 the village was occupied by the Turks. During the period of Ottoman domination after 1480, it was the capital of a federation consisting of 42 villages. This federation belonged to the powerful Valide Sultana (mother of the Sultan) to whom they paid high taxes but at the same time enjoyed privileges (autonomy, self-government, independence, freedom of religion, tax breaks, school operation, religious freedom). Therefore, the village began to experience great acne that peaked in the early 18th century and reached the point of attracting residents of other neighboring villages who came and settled here.
At the beginning they began trading in livestock products (milk cheeses, leather etc.). Later, they developed a small woolen production industry using wool from sheep in the surrounding meadows (somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 sheep and goats at that time). The fabrics were used to make different clothes but the thick, full-bodied and waterproof capes were what distinguished them and they were so good, warm and resilient that they were in demand both domestically and abroad, especially by seafarers and soldiers. It is said that a great customer was also Napoleon who dressed his army with them. Their engagement in this profession resulted in the creation of a new class of merchants that was not limited to the boundaries, from which emerged a rising class of scholars and benefactors whose key contribution to national awakening and revolution was decisive. At the same time, they had also developed popular handicrafts (painting, woodcarving, silversmiths, goldsmiths, etc.) as well as the art of stone.
The inhabitants of Syrrako and Kalarrytes had established merchant houses in major European cities, such as Livorno and Trieste, since the mid-17th century., since the two villages were centers for the export trade of the neighboring villages.
It was therefore expected that this commercial move would bring to the village significant wealth, prosperity, education and culture.
Syrrako and Kalarrytes were the only villages of Epirus that took part in the Greek Revolution from the first years. Unfortunately, the two villages were unable to cope with the powerful Turkish troops, which ravaged and burned everything. Total destruction. This was the beginning of the end of great prosperity. The inhabitants left to save themselves and to live in other parts in Greee and abroad. The Turks, who were repentant because they had lost the trench from the wealth of both villages, issued an order one year later (1822) promising amnesty and security to those who would return. But no one trusted their promises, so four years later (1826) they issued a second order with the same promise. (Both these orders are saved in the archives of the Kalarrytes community). Most of them stayed in the places where they had fled to and only some bold men returned in 1827. These men built the turbulent settlement again and the area began to flourish. In the 1913 census, Syrrako numbered 3,500 inhabitants. The decline in the early 20th century was due to the decline in demand for woolen fabrics.
In 1854 some mighty residents of Syrrako tried to make another rebellion. Luckily they took an amnesty, saving the village from a second disaster. Also, the Turks began to make cuts in the privileges they had granted. These were unpleasant facts. Despite these unpleasant events, the village made great progress in the years to come. In February 1881, with the Berlin Treaty (1/13 July 1878), Thessaly and part of Epirus were annexed to Greece by a new frontier line, the rivers Arachthos and Kalarrytikos. As a result, Syrrako remained in Turkey, unlike Kalarrytes, Matsouki, and Arta who went to freed Greece. So the two villages, Kalarrytes and Syrrako, belonged to different states, which somehow prevented the trade between Epirus and Thessaly. The independence of the area was conquered on 23/11/1919.
World War II and its disasters, and later the Civil War, resulted in the desolation of the place. It was difficult to live in an inaccessible place, without roads, without electricity, without other facilities, and especially without the great activity and profits that it had in the past. So it is left with a few permanent residents today.
Syrrako gave to Greece great men such as the poet Kostas Krystallis (1868-1894), Ioannis Kolettis (1774-1847), the first constitutional prime minister of Greece, George Zalokostas (1805-1858) poet and fighter of 1821.
Also the chieftains Katsikogiannis, Lepeniotis and others, the benefactors G. Yianniotis, S. Baltatzis, G. Ikkos and others, as well as many other men of letters, arts and commerce came from Syrrako.
Pounda Nouaoua or New Bridge: It is the first bridge we meet at the entrance of the village. It is a single arch with a flat deck and was built in 1800, but we do not know either the builder or the sponsor, since there is neither inscription nor oral testimony. It is kept in good condition, although without any repairs or maintenance. They named it like that as to distinguish it from the neighboring and older bridge. Next to it is the Fantanitsia tap (presumably from the Italian fontana that means a spring or tap).
Pounta Viaklia Bridge (old bridge) or Nik bridge: After the previous and at the entrance of the village, built in 1938 on an older one. In a close distance there is a watermill.
Bridge in Siopatos: A stone-made single-arch bridge that bridges the stream that starts from the Source of Siopatos and is poured into the Chrousia tributary of Kalarrytikos. It is located at the top of the village just below the ring road. It is unknown when and by whom it was built, but the money was given by the nuns to be able to go to the nearby Kalogretsi tap.
Dyo Vryses (which means two stone fountains): A nice vaulted building with two stone troughs, near Zalokostas Mansion. It was built in 1876 by the great merchant N. Palios.
Spring of Goura: Above the square, near Agios Nikolaos. It is a masterpiece of architecture, perhaps the best of the village covered by a large but lovely curved dome, made from the pumice stone “Gigonara”, the name of the site from which it was mined. The terraces are a later addition, apparently for practical reasons (eg touching the barrels, etc.), but they are definitely a disagreement and spoil the beautiful image of the source. Tradition says that here they found the image of St. Nicholas.
Spring of Condol: Above Goura: It has also been saved from the great destruction of 1821. It has two stone cubicles, built in the background and housed in a semicylindrical stone dome on which there is a garden!