Vrysochori
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Vrysochori

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VRYSOCHORI

A beautiful mountainous village

Vrysochori is a mountainous village, built in a green landscape with lush vegetation, running waters and immense forests, now part of the North Pindos National Park.

Originally it belonged to the vlach villages of Aoos Valley (Konitsa). However, from a historical point of view, it joined Zagori and in the meantime also differentiated in terms of its characteristics. So today it is part of the cultural and historical unity of Central Zagori.

History and Information

It is unknown when the original settlement was created. However, it must be very old, probably from the 8th century. Some of the first inhabitants were Albanian, known as Boii or Boians, by the name Buya, that had the first chiefs of this tribe in the period 1321-1333. Initially they were wild and lived in trinkets but with time they were assimilated to the natives. Bouyas or Bouas was also the name of the Albanian warlord Gkin Spata, a name that can be Vlach. (parenthesis: John (Gino) Bush (Albanian: Gjin Bue Shpata, is attributed to Bin Bush Spata (; -1399) was an Albanian warlord of the 14th century He also brought the name “Spata” (= sword). This name also had some paternal lineage here in the village (then Lesnitsa) hundreds of years ago.

In historical texts the village is mentioned for the first time in a chrysobull of Andronikos II in 1295. (Parenthesis: chrysobull = official public document – a decree bearing a golden stamp on the silk film accompanying it, certifying the authenticity of the decree). (There is now a village in North Epirus, next to the Greek-Albanian border, called Lesinitsa and has native Greek inhabitants). The old Vlach name was Lιasinitsa, but the Hellenic name Lesinitsa or Lesnitsa prevailed. In 1927 it got the present name Vrysochori.

In the years that followed, life was the same as that of the inhabitants of the other villages. Poverty, difficult survival, and prey raids came to fill the picture.

So many were forced to emigrate in various places where they succeeded in trade, improved their lives and helped their native town by financing the building of mansions, schools, churches, cobbled streets, stone bridges. Spiritual progress was equally important, as well as school had scientists practicing the profession of doctor. Thus, from the 18th c. and then the village showed great prosperity.

Then came the Revolution of 1821 and the struggle for liberation The progress of the village continued with a constant increase in the population. In 1826 there were 200 families of Vlachs and in 1873 about 1600 inhabitants, while the houses occupied a large area, dividednto three Mahalades (Kato, Pano, Pera). (Mahalades=Turkish word for the neighborhoods . Also in 1895, the Ottoman Statistics (Salmame) of the year refers to 870 inhabitants, mainly Vlachs, who spoke both Vlach and Greek.

Most of the residents were farmers, breeders, craftsmen and traders. The economic situation of the inhabitants was not always the best. There were no roads to transport and distribute goods over long distances. Also, if the weather did not favor and destroyed the production, there was no state concern for the products or for the people. But beyond these difficult economic conditions, there was no prospect of education, professional rehabilitation and improvement of living conditions. So, by necessity the men up to about 1900 but also whole families from the beginning of the 20th century, they emigrated.

The Second World War and the Civil War brought horror when the residents saw their village burn three times: twice by the Nazis (18/10/1943, July 1944) and one during the Civil War (1945-49).

In 1940 Vrysochori was transformed into a key center of the Greek forces fighting against the Italians and the participation of the inhabitants was complete. The German occupation dismantled the social fabric and economically weakened the place.

Then the immigration of young people to the big cities resulted in the beginning of the depopulation and desertion of Vrysochori. In 1974 there were 83 residents who lived in complete isolation, since by 1996 there was only one handheld phone for all, while the road between Paleosellio and Vrysochori was asphalted in 2009.

It is one of the most secluded villages in Zagori and among the most beautiful ones as its setting is one of the finest balconies of Greece. The northern wall of Gamilla stands on the opposite side of the village, with its steep slopes of hundreds of meters, the grooves, the slots, and its impressive peak Tsuka Rossa seeming inaccessible. Tsuka Rossa in Vlach means Red Top and the name apparently comes because at the sunrise the peak is bathed with the first red color of the dawn. Climbing Tsuka Rossa is considered difficult and that is why it is the dream of every mountaineer and climber.

Below are vast forests of coniferous and deciduous trees and beautiful alpine meadows. Because the mountains receive a lot of snow and the climate is particularly rainy in the area, abundant waters rise from the earth forming springs, streams, tributaries that flow into Aoos River. The village, thanks to its many running waters, boasts rich flora and fauna, pastures, gardens, fruit trees and green forests. It has a perfect water supply network from rich sources with abundant and crystal clear waters.

It is probably the only place in Greece where one can see snow 365 days a year and at the foot of Tsuka Rossa there are large pieces of glaciers that do not melt not even in the summer heat waves. Just a few kilometers from the village and to the north, the waters of River Aoos are rapidly flowing. Due to the very rich flora and fauna, the University of Cambridge in England had been sending in the 1970s -and for many years after- scientists to study it.

Fortunately, in recent years the village has lived through the creation of a small but organized beekeeping unit, from two hostels that cover the problem of visitor stay and since 2010 a power plant is operating on the banks of Aoos River that exploits the rich waters of the river.

CHURCHES

Saint Charalampos: Great and impressive church in the central square. The erection of the temple began in 1799 and was completed in 1819 according to the inscription. Rebuilding was funded by residents of the settlement. It is a three-aisled basilica, dedicated to Saint Charalampos, the Holy Apostles and the Three Hierarchs. The great loggia is based on many columns and decorated with beautiful stone reliefs.

Agios Athanasios: The oldest church, believed to have been built in the 8th century.

Agios Dimitrios: In the center of the village.

Agios Tryfonas: Old chapel, recently renovated by the Ecclesiastical Committee with the participation of the residents. It is located in the place of Skarvena, because in the past there was the vineyard of the village and Saint Tryfonas is the patron saint of the viticulturists, so in the newer hagiographies he is represented by a pruners, the main tool of the viticulturists.

Agia Triada of Lesinitsa: (1667) Monastery about 6,5 km west of the village at the boundary of the Vikos Aoos National Park, accessible by forest road.

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