The region of Epirus in northwest Greece has its
own special beauty and cultural identity. It extends
from the peaks of the Pindus mountains to the
shores of the Ionian Sea and is separated into four
administrative districts: loannina, Thesprotia,
Preveza and Arta.
As for geography, Epirus is Greece 's most
mountainous region. The Pindus range forms its
natural northeastern border, while dozens of other
mountains, big and small, are scatered throughout
the area, separated by only a few valleys.
The Vikos - Aoos National Forest - a part of the Vallia -
Kalda National Forest is of great ecological value,
containing as it does such a variety of ecosystems.
Amidst these superb mountains and forests live the last
of the Greek bears, wolves, mountain lions, wild boars
and otters. Wild goats and deer still browse
on its precipitous cliffs, where eagles and vultures nest.
To the west the Ionian stretches, its coast a diverse blend
of modern resorts, lagoons and river deltas, of which
the latter two form an important system of wetlands.
History of Epirus
The first indications of human presence in the area,
harking back to 40.000 B.C., were discovered in the Asprohaliko
cave of Haradra on the Louros River.
Important finds were also unearthed from caves in the
Vikos Gorge, proving that life continued without a break up
to the Mesolithic era (6000 B.C.), This is confirmed by finds
from the prehistoric settlement of Kastritsa, which also date
to the Middle - Neolithic (5000 B.C.), while other artifacts,
mainly stone axes with a hole on one side and pottery,
belong to the Bronze Age or Early Helladic period (2500 B.C.).
With the start of the Middle Helladic period (1.900 - 1.550 B.C.)
the first Greek tribe, the Thesproti, settled in Epirus,
followed by the Molossi and the Chaones.
In 800 B.C. the Corinthians founded colonies in the area, such
as Amvrakia, Apollonia, Epidamnos and others. These colonies
initiated contact between the Epirots and the Greek culture
of southern Greece. In the 5th century, Tharypas, the
King of the Molossians, united the various clans into a
federation and endeavoured to introduce his people to culture
by inviting scholars and artists from southern Greece to his
court. At the end of the 4th century B.C., Arybbas came to the
throne and gave his niece Olympias in marriage to Philip II of
Macedonia. Their son was Alexander the Great.
After a period of unrest, Pyrrhus ascended to the throne of
Epirus. In 280 B.C. he decided to mount a campaign against
the Romans, but following some impressive but exhausting
victories he was defeated by the more powerful state and returned
to Epirus, from where he continued his attacks.
With the subjection of Epirus by the Romans, the Roman Senate
ordered the destruction of seventy Epirot towns.
Later, most of the region 's inhabitants were forced to settle
at Nikopolis, built by Octavian (Augustus) to celebrate his
victory at Actium (31 B.C.) over the fleets of Antony and
In 369 A.D., the Goths led by Alaric attacked and conquered the
In 550 great number of Slavs invaded the
region, resulting in the establishment of Slavic
tribes on Epirot soil. In 1108 the Normans
raided the area with Bohemond at their head.
In April 1204, the Crusaders occupied
Constantinople and dismembered the Byzantine
Empire. Michael Komninos Doukas then
founded the Despotate of Epirus with Arta as its
Later, with the resurgence of Byzantine power,
Ioanina became an independent Byzantine province, thus entering
into a period of prosperity for the whole region. But in 1430
the Ottoman occupation which was to last almost 500 years, began.
As we have seen life in Epirus had its origins well before the
dawn of history. The region witnessed all the ups and downs
of Ancient Greece, Rome, Byzantium and the modern era,
gaining a uniquely individual sense of history and culture.