Vitsa is a mountainous village in the prefecture of Ioannina and one of the most famous villages in Central Zagori. It is located in the northern part of the county at the entrance of the gorge of the canyon on the southeastern slopes of Stouros peak.
The name comes from the Slavic «bezati» which means run or rapidly flow and the conclusion -ica. The two districts Vitsa and Monodendri were a community called Bezitsa and later Veitsa, Vitsa and Vitses. This was before the conquest of the continent by the Turks and until 1753.
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Useful phone numbers:
Tourist Police (EOT Information): 171
Fire Service: 199
During the reign of the Despot, in 1361, Bezitsa was given as a fief to the Duke John Tsafos Oursinos. This happened after the bull of Serbian Despot Simeon Palaiologos.
At the place”Genitsari” between community regions Vitsa and Monodendri, is one of the earliest settlements that has been discovered in the surrounding area. It dates from the mid 9th century BC till the end of the 4th century BC. Its inhabitants belonged to the tribe of Molossos and were mainly engaged in farming. (The Molossoi, Macedonian tribe, came from the area of the medium rum of Aliakmonas and prevailed in central Epirus, in the 12th century. BC). There were also two adjacent cemeteries with 181 graves. The definitive end of the settlement came in the middle of the 2nd half of the 4th century BC, when it was destroyed by fire.
On July 27, 1943 the village was burned by the invaders resulting in the destruction of three houses, among which was one of the finest mansions of Zagori, the manor of Pantazis brothers known by the name Mansion ‘Velogiannis “.
UPPER AND LOWER VITSA
The village is built amphitheatrically and it is divided into two neighborhoods. These are the Lower and Upper Vitsa. The lower houses are located at 920 m. altitude and the tallest at 1,000 m. altitude. The permanent population in both neighborhoods along reaches approximately 100 inhabitants.
Vitsa is known since 1361 and it is mentioned in the bull of Serbian ruler Simeon. Simeon recognised to John Tsafas Oursinis the possession of extensive areas in Epirus. However, it is unknown when it was originally built.
The teacher of the Nation and national benefactor Neophytos Doukas (1760-1845) was one of the people who came from Ano Pedina. He was a clergyman and scholar as well as director of the Bucharest School and first director of Rizarios School. Also, John Lampridis (1839-1891), philosopher, donor in Athens University and scholar of Epirus culture came from the village.
Vitsa is designated by the State as a traditional settlement and is a typical example of the architectural structure of the villages of the region with the mansions, the stone streets, the many churches and the square with the big tree, an integral element of all the squares of the area. Some important monuments are the church of the Assumption (1554), St. Nicholas (1619) and the Archangels (1607).
The celebration of the Assumption in August 15, the Halloween-known Jamal and the raki production in early November are modes of expression of local tradition and events organized by the local cultural association.
Many hiking paths with sufficient marking for easy routes start from Vitsa.
Enjoy the Zagorisian landscape, the architecture and the tradition in whatever way you want.
One thing is certain: you will leave this place richer in images and experiences.