The village Koukouli belongs to central Zagori. It is located near the southern tip of Vikos Gorge, in the Vikos-Aoos National Park. It was named after the very large stones (from the Latin Cuculla = hood) in the area or another version of sericulture which was an occupation of its inhabitants.
History and Information
Koukouli was built as a settlement in the 13th or 14th century. In the 18th and 19th centuries it experienced great spiritual and economic development, as did the other villages of Zagori. Many Koukouliotes were involved with trade and were migrated. It was the most creative period for Koukouli, since it enjoyed great economic and intellectual growth.
The great buildings we see today were built during that period: the church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the old school, the taps, the bridges and the mansions. A lot of money was invested by the expatriate emigrants in Constantinople, Asia Minor, Russia, Wallachia.
In the field of education initially there was only the Lower School and in the year 1780 a Higher one was set up. In the year 1880 a Girls’ School was founded, which functioned until 1919 and in 1820 the Central School of Zagori was founded, similar to the School of Ioannina, with a very remarkable library. It was attended by famous professors and rectors of Universities.
The list of donors and benefactors who offered with great sensitivity to the church, school, the poor, to various charitable works, thus helping the village is very long.
Distinguished figures left their mark on the village. Such were Manthos and his brother Christodoulos Economou, Dimitrios and Georgios Stroumpos, the Koutouzi family, the Sakelari family and the Plakida family.
When the privileges were halted in 1868 and the autonomy of Zagori came to an end with the establishment of Turkish authorities in Tsepelovo, the decline of Koukouli began. With the liberation of Epirus by the Turks in 1913, the inhabitants of the Koulouli area had large areas of land ανδ did not have tapes (official papers of ownership).
Also, many Koulouliotes lost their property in Smyrna during the Asia Minor catastrophe of 1922.
An important part of the course of Koukouli was also the appearance of Sarakatsanoi. In the beginning they rented the mountain of Astraka and later they were settled in the village too.
Agia Paraskevi in Koukouli
Following the road to Zagori Gardens, just after the junction for Kipi and Kapesovo is the small chapel of Agia Paraskevi. It is built on a hill and among the dense oak forest of the area. The church belongs to the village of Koukouli and it is a small stone building measuring 3 meters by 5 meters, with low walls and paved roof. The church is considered to be one of the oldest in the area and it is unknown when it was built.
Agia Paraskevi was used as a “purgatory” by the inhabitants of the village. People who came and wanted to enter the village had to remain in the church for 40 days. The entrance to Koukouli was only permitted if during these days they did not show any symptom of illness.
The nuns who lived there cared for them, and those who died were buried in places near the church. In 1934-35, when the provincial road was opened, the work brought to light several such graves.
Climbing from the narrow but safe path leads to the plateau of the rock tower with the chapel and the view to the entrance of the gorge where the old bridge of Kokoris is located and the new cement one is breathtaking. Wild boars pass through that passage when it’s time to mate and give birth to their young ones.