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Epirus

Epirus is located in the north-west part of Greece, between the mountain range of Pindos and the Ionian sea and combines impressive mountainous and charming seaside scenery. The entire area is run by mountains and rivers which are traversed by wonderful arched bridges. Fertile plains and valleys interrupt the mountain ranges from north to south. The climate of the coastline is moderate, while in the interior it is harsh, with heavy winters, frequent frost and abounding rain and storms. The villages and cities have always been connected via a number of trails carved through the many mountains. Later, this contributed to the flourishing of trade and the development of the region.

Epirus is internationally considered as an ideal place for all kinds of alternative tourism. Its untouched mountainous mass of Pindos with its great virgin forests, the mountain lakes (drakolimnes - dragon lakes) and the untamed slopes provide for a plethora of activities (mountaineering, climbing, ski, hiking, mountain biking etc.) in a scenery of singular beauty, as well as the rivers of Epirus which offer other activities such as kayak, rafting, canoeing etc. 

Aoos, especially, is considered as one of the most beautiful and challenging rivers for kayaking, while Voidomatis runs through the impressive gorge of Vikos. All of this co-exists in harmony with the archaeological sites, castles, monasteries, churches and traditional villages.

The first inhabitants of Epirus were the Pelasgians. Homer mentioned Epirus tribes such as the Thesprotians and the Seli. Later, their kings claimed to be descendants of Achilles. Epirus appears in Greek history in the 7th century B.C. In Roman years, it was separated into old and new Epirus. In the centuries that followed, Epirus was invaded by the Goths, the Huns and Bulgarian tribes. Later, king Voulgaroktonos removed the Bulgarians. The Despotate or Principality of Epirus appeared with the arrival of the Franks. Its capital, Arta, became the centre of national resistance and of Byzantine spiritual culture. In 1431, the Turks occupied the city of Ioannina and Epirus. During Ottoman rule, the villages in the mountains enjoyed many benefits and an autonomous administration, while at the same time its inhabitants developed trade and traveled extensively throughout the Balkans and central Europe. The prosperous immigrants of Epirus brought wealth and European culture to their homeland. One of the most flourishing areas at the time was Zagorohoria, or the villages of Zagori, where remarkable monuments where built with significant historical and architectural value, such as arched stone bridges and great mansions. Masons, foremen, sculptors, hagiographers and carpenters from Epirus traveled extensively in guilds to work throughout the Balkans. A large portion of Epirus' culture from the 18th and 19th centuries which survives to this day reveals the prosperity of popular art and architecture in this part of Greece. In 1881, Epirus was liberated up to Arta, while the rest of the region was incorporated in Greece in 1913.

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