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ABOUT EPIRUS



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 Cleopatra.
In 369 A.D., the Goths led by Alaric attacked and conquered the region. 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 capital.
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.


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