Sightseeing in the region

Kalarrytes

The settlement of Kalarrytes is built at an altitude of 1200m, atop a cliff standing over the Kalarrytikos gorge, nestled among the Peristeri (2285m) and Tzoumerka (2429m) massifs. The village has stood at the crossroads of Thessaly, Epirus and the Ionian Sea since Antiquity. Archaeological evidence proves that the area has been settled since the Bronze Age. The Avatos archaeological site, N.E. of Kalarrytes, has yielded the remains of a minor settlement's fortifications. It is believed that this site is the location of the ancient Athamanian city of Akantha/os.

Kalarrytes is renowned for its pastures, and nomadic husbandry still flourishes in the region. Historic professions of the village's inhabitants included silversmithing and hagiography. In addition to these professions, the village's inhabitants were also tailors, gold embroiderers, traders, peddlers, goldsmiths, craftsmen, dressmakers, stockbreeders and mule drivers. Of all these professions, those which achieved the greatest renown were undoubtedly those of the silversmith and the goldsmith, with numerous workshops producing the most celebrated ecclesiastical and secular silverware of the 18th century, many of which are still extant in various European countries to the present day. Kalarrytes and Syrrako were declared Protected Traditional Settlements by the Ministry of Physical Planning and the Environment in 1978.

Monastery of Our Lady of Kipina

A sacred and imposing place of fierce beauty and masterful craftsmanship, this impressive monastery with its unique architecture is located near the settlement of Kipina, on the Kipina-Kalarrytes road. Its construction on sheer, vertical stone, carved into the middle of a massive rock face on the NE side of the rugged Kalarrytikos River gorge, is truly awe-inspiring. The monastery is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin, however its feast day is the Friday of Bright Week, the celebration of the Life-Giving Spring. It is accessible by means of a narrow path, carved into the stone, and a small suspended wooden bridge, which leads to its outbuildings. During the period of Turkish rule, the wooden bridge was in fact a drawbridge, which the monks would raise with a lever, thereby creating a 4-meter chasm, whenever would-be raiders would attempt to plunder it. Today, the Monastery Our Lady of Kipina is a dependency of the Monastery of Tsouka (1931) and is under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Ioannina. It was renovated relatively recently and is open to pilgrims. If Father Lambros is absent, the keys to access it can be requested from the coffee house in Kipina (phone number: 26590 61186).

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Plaka Bridge

Built in 1866, the Plaka Bridge was believed to be the largest single-arch bridge in the Balkans, with an arch spanning 40 meters, a height of 19 meters and a width of 3.2 meters at its peak. Its central arch collapsed on February 1st 2015, during a notably violent rainstorm, and today efforts are being made by the Municipality of North Tzoumerka, the Prefecture of Ioannina and the State to initiate its reconstruction and restoration. The Plaka Bridge was built at the location of an older bridge which collapsed in 1860. This bridge was rebuilt in 1863 by the artisan Georgis from Konitsa, and its construction was funded by the businessman Giannis Loulis, however, this new bridge collapsed mere days after its inauguration. The third iteration of the bridge was built in 1866 by the artisan Constantine Bekas from Pramanta.

Anemotripa Cave

Visitors to the region can visit the Anemotripa cave, which is located three kilometers from Pramanta, west of Strggoula, at an altitude of 900m. Colorful stalagmites in unique formations and three small lakes in shades of grey, bronze and white, which have formed through the years, constitute a dreamlike environment of mythical figures and architectural wonders. Tours of the cave are provided by Manolis Sentele, the owner of the nearby cafe/restaurant "Spilaio Anemotripa". Touring hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the entrance fee is 3 euros (phone numbers: 26590 61516, 6958054441).

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Monastery of Vyliza

A monastery with a view, the monastery of Vyliza is located at an altitude of 1050m, built above the confluence of two tributaries of the Kalarrytikos, between the villages of Kalarrytes and Matsouki, in order to better control the passages. Tradition dates its founding to the 11th century, however the oldest written documentation of Vyliza is its icon of St. John the Baptist, dated to 1676. The current structure is post-byzantine. The monastery's courtyard still hosts a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist. This second church was decorated in 1737 by the brothers George and Stergios from the neighboring village of Kalarrytes, and contains a gilded wooden iconostasis complete with exquisite icons. According to the English traveller William Martin Leake, the area was once home to the fortifications of a Hellenistic settlement, the walls of which he visited on his trip to Epirus (between 1804 and 1810). The monastery was formerly among the most important of Epirus, with notable contributions to the local community, and contained an extensive library which housed a great number of manuscripts. Today, the monastery is a dependency of the Diocese of Kato Panagia, Arta. The Monastery of Vyliza is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin.

Kouiasa or Damiris Bridge

This is single-arched, semi-circular stone bridge, built in the Chrousias River valley. On one side, the bridge features a smaller arch which serves to lighten the construction (relief arch) and allows the swift passage of water in the case of floods. It was built around 1800, funded by wealthy inhabitants and expats from Kalarrytes. The name Kouiasa means shady place, while the second name has been taken from the donor Damiris, a Kalarrytiote merchant.



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