Looking at the world from above
Theodoriana is a big village of the prefecture of Arta and is nestled on the slopes of Eastern Tzoumerka. The description of the route that leads to the village is very poor in words to describe the impressive landscape. The asphalt road from Athamanio ascends steadily to the ridge of Stavros at 1400m. altitude. One stop there is necessary as the view is stunning (if the weather allows it). Acheloos, the villages of Tzoumerka, Agrafa and the Amvrakikos gulf are the picture we are looking at. From this point onwards the downhill road begins, the village appears with the bare peaks on top of it, as if they protect it. In four kilometers we are in the village square and we read the sign that informs us that we are at an altitude of 980m. The tourist maps refer to it as the most watershed village in Greece. With two rivers and dozens of springs, the area is a small paradise.
History and Information
Naked and inaccessible peaks define the area (44,000 acres) and the boundaries of the Vourgareli community with the surrounding villages. The highest peak is the Pyramid (Katafidi, 2,393m) and the main crossings are Stavros (1,250m) to the south for Arta, the Afti (Ear) (1,750m) to the north and Prophet Elias (1,100m) east to Thessaly. On the east and at a distance of about 4.5 kilometers, few houses on the right bank of Acheloos form Skarpari, the second settlement of Theodorian Community, isolated but beautiful in a wonderful location overlooking the river.
Theodoriana are referred to their current name for the first time in 1695, on a tax list of the Venetian authorities. From the unofficial archaeological finds at Place Selio, from their names and from other historical assumptions, Theodoriana can be considered as a historical continuation of the ancient city of Theodora in the land of the Athamans, which is the first historically established breed to live in this area.
Many faces of the struggle during the pre-revolutionary period used Theodoriana as a passage or refuge (Patrokosmas, Karystakis, Katsantonis and others). In Theodoriana the great historical form of the re-revolutionary years, the monk and abbot of the monastery of Theodoriana Anthimos Argyropoulos, who founded a school in the monastery to educate the children, was imprisoned for his action by Ali Pasha, lost his vision, was then later released and he was the one who, having sworn in the Friendship Company, began to recruit and swear by himself the chieftains of the revolution, including Theodoros Kolokotronis, Dionysios Solomos and others.
The village Theodoriana is known for the Kostilata Plateau where thousands of sheep are settled. The story is as follows: After the departure of the Turks, the control of the land passed to Greek landlords, namely the brothers Nikos and Giorgos Antonopoulos. The Theodorians learn the unpleasant news in April 1883. The Antonopoulos brothers rent the Kostilata pasture to Georgios Chatzaras, and the inhabitants decided to react dynamically and ask for Kostilata. They told the landlords that the meadow never belonged to the Turks, but they took it as conquerors, so now with the liberation it belonged again to the Theodorians. And do not imagine that all of this was simply on a verbal level. With arms, knives, axes, and woods, the whole village (men, women and children) faced the military excerpt that accompanied the 2.000 sheep of shepherd Hatzaras. Finally, the two sides came to an agreement and on 25 July 1883 a contract was signed that transferred Kostilata to 131 Theodorians. Today, the Kostilata pasture is managed by the Forced Communion Co-ownership of the Theodorians.
Today, the village has 250 permanent residents. Several residents are livestock farmers and few, mainly elderly, live permanently in the village.
The hiking and mountaineering routes that someone can follow, depending on their abilities, are many. Do not forget that we are in the heart of Tzoumerka. Many historic trails that were used during the older times by the inhabitants can be followed today.
The church of Agios Georgios in the square of the village. Built in 1880 by the Pramantians craftsmen, it cost 30,000 pots at that time.
The Monastery of Panagia built by the abbot Anthimos Argyropoulos in 1793 and dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin Mary. At the time of the Ottoman domination, it functioned as an interdisciplinary school and at the same time as a patriotic hideaway.
The stone bridge of the Goura River. Outside the village on the way to Trikala, a one-arched stone bridge, built in the early 20th century, which bridges the Goura River tributary of Acheloos.
The gorge of Agia Triada: It starts from the point where the two streams join the White Goura and the Mouzaki, they roll for three kilometers in the gorge and are poured into Acheloos. The easiest access to the gorge is made by the chapel of the Holy Trinity. From here you can easily see the largest part of the gorge.
The feast on the 15th of August
Every 15th of August, thousands of villagers, friends and visitors come to the village for the feast. It has the strong character of the reconciliation between the fellow villagers. It is the opportunity to find family relatives, childhood friends, to talk, to learn about those who are missing, to remember those who left forever. Besides, the feast of the Virgin Mary for the Greeks is of particular importance.
The procession of the pilgrims on the morning of the 15th of August, goes down to the village on foot from the chapel of the Virgin Mary. The image precedes the hands of the faithful. Pictures that give a particular tone of devotion and refer to older, more authentic times.
But what has made the feast known is the afternoon dance on August 15 and 16. The bell gives the signal and everyone gathers in the square of the village to dance the traditional dance that has its roots during the Ottoman domination. The dance forms two rows. The dance series is set by a specialist for the occasion and puts the village’s priest in the dance, to emphasize the sanctity of the feast. The hands are tied, in the first row the women and the men behind them, while singing with one voice they dance, the song “Kostilata“, known to all Greeks with its variants. The song refers to the pasture of Kostilata and reminds of the struggle and the uprising of the Theodorians against the landlords who had bought it from the Turks.