Monodendri is one of the picturesque Zagori villages. From the central part of the village take a cobbled path down towards the old school and square. Order "alevropita" at a restaurant on the square and while it will be ready, walk some 10 minutes further to the monastery. Light a candle, whisper a prayer, enjoy the views of Vikos canyon and walk back to the square to taste your "alevropita" with a glass of wine of Zitsa village (drink very responsibly).
This is an easy way to admire one of the most beautiful places of mountainous Greece. On the way to Zagorochoria (villages of Zagori) follow the signs to Monodendri and then Oxia. There the road ends at a small parking place and after some 100 meters of walking you can enjoy the view of the deepest gorge in the world, listed also in the Guiness Book of Records.
In winter and spring time the mountain streams are full with water. These stone bridges were extremely important in the past for travelling and trade between Ioannina, Zagori and the territory of today's Albania.
Charming medieval stone villages of Zagori are not so popular with foreign tourists, but Greek tourists love them. Therefore you can find good facilities for even a longer stay there, which is really worth it. The pristine nature, the piece and breath-taking sceneries will win the heart of anyone who feels good in nature. Approximately one hour drive from Ioannina.
"Zagori" is a word of Slavic origin and means "behind the mountains", what describes the location of the whole area. To be slightly more accurate, it's all up in the mountains, cca 1000 metres or even more above the sea level. As there are plenty of the villages, so you can choose if you visit the Western, Central, or Eastern Zagori.
The most popular (and therefore also the most touristy) part is the Western Zagori. The other two are more quiet, but still you can find places to stay (even a 4star mountain hotel in Tsepelovo).
Metsovo is a remarkable town in Epirus 550 kms from Athens, only 37 minutes drive from Ioannina. It is like an Alpine village, reminding me very much of Switzerland. Not only the climate but the houses remind me of this country. It is a popular destination the year round with much greenery, and natural beauty. I believe it is one of the few places left in Greece where people are dressed in traditional costume. The older women of course wear theirs, mostly during the weekends.
The locals speak a Vlach dialect which sounds like Latin.
Through the whole central square there are benches where you will find locals gather for their daily gossip, and exchanging the latest news. Most of them hold their sticks – glitsas as they are called in Greek, and others their string of beads. They love chatting with tourists and they are very interesting and kind people.
Metsovo is a Vlach village. The Vlachs were nomadic shepherds thus the village is popular for its dairy products. Here one can find excellent quality of butter and cheese of exceptional aroma and taste.
You can walk all the way up to the village of Lingiades, is 7 km away by road but only two as the bird flies from the Castle.
Lingiades the watch tower or observation balcony for Ioannina's basin.
This was also an important factor for the fate of the village. The 3rd of October 1943, the commander of the 22nd Army Corps of Wehrmacht ordered its soldiers to take revenge for the death of an officer (Lt. Col. Josef Salminger) who got killed in an ambush by the partisans. So it was planned to burn down the village. That could have been seen, tens of kilometres away. In order to teach villagers that sabotages could bring rsimilar results. The soldiers went in and murdered 82 children, women and elderly people. You can read more about it by visiting the web-page: http://users.edisinet.gr/atrocity/index.html
or the Lingiadhes pages here in VT.
Don’t miss the famous cave at Perama. It’s a beautiful cave with 19 different kinds of stalactites. The cave was founded there during the 2nd world war by accident while the inhabitants were trying to find a place to hide when the german planes bombed the area! The one that found the cave saw a bear coming out of it! He’s not alive anymore but his bairns live in the village. The cave is located at the Goritsa hill, just over the village and from there you have a great view of the lake and Ioannina city. In 1956 fossil teeth and bones of the bear of the cave. The cave was explored by Giannis and Anna Petrochilos and became the first cave in Greece that opened to the public. It’s 1,500,000 years old!!
You can spend 45’ there walking for about a kilometers inside, first you go down but at the end the track is upwards. There are some interesting shapes of stalactites and stalagmites and some of them have funny name like “Statue of Liberty”, “Santa Claus” etc Every hall has also different names like “Hall of the Cross” because of the stalactite that looks like a cross etc
The museum is open daily after 8:00-20:00 (in winter 9:00-sunset) and the entrance fee is 7 euros
The village of Perama has many taverns, some cafe and a lot of gift shops. You can stroll around for a while. The view from the cave over the village is great and on a clear day you can enjoy the view of the lake and Ioannina.
There is a small monument to those of Ioannina's residents who were killed in the Holocaust. The overwhelming majority of the Jewish community was deported and murdered in death camps in Eastern Europe.
It´s the mausoleum of Ali Pascha. Very interesting!
Ali Pascha , already a legendary figure was an educated like unprincipled potentate, conscious of power which owned a harem of 500 women, had a lord Byron as guest , also English, French and Russian ambassadors.
The history says, he has in 1801 would drown in the sea the favorite woman of his son Frosini (Euphrosyne), together with 16 other women.
First version: because they were unfaithful to her men
Second version: because them refused to be him to will .
The Turks conquered Ioannina 1820 with 50000 men and lured Ali pasha in 1822 on the island in the sea, where they killed him. The liberation of Greece of the Ottomans is to be owed mostly by Ali Pascha.
“Orpheas”, the only left outdoors cinema theatre of Ioannina, is a touchstone for the inhabitants, located in the centre-most part of the city (Michael-Angelo & Pyrrou streets) where all the social and business activities take place. It is preserved and functioning for traditional reasons, still offering a pleasent film-watching during summer nights.
It is sited at the centre of Ioannina, near the Archaeological Museum. It was initially built as palace by Ali-pasha who made Ioannina his seat.
It was much larger, including two more palaces for his sons. One of them was at the place of the Military Head-Quarters and the other at the place of the Archaeological museum. Englishmen W.M.Leake and Holland give descriptions of the three palaces. They were destroyed in 1821, when Hursit-pasha defeated Ali-pasha. Only part of the Walls and the basements were preserved.
The founder of the Society for Epirotic Studies restored the cluster, that nowadays is functioning as recreation centre.
Drive out to the ancient Greek theatre and oracle-site of Dodonae, nestling in a forgotten valley
Taste the white wines produced in the vineyards around Zitsa
Wake yourself up with a day’s rafting along the Arachthos river gorge, or kayaking through the spectacular Voidomatis river
Or enter the dark world of the Perama caves, one of the mythical entrances to Hades
Drive up to Metsovo and the Katara (‘accursed’) road pass, which in winter is a prime ski resort
Look for brown bears in the forested Valia Calda valley
Or spot birds and flowers in any of the nearby National Parks
Visistors to the city of Ioannina must see: 1. the fortress and within it the Byzantine Museum, ruins of the Byzantine town and a bathhouse 2. the little island of Pamvotis lake with the Monasteries 3. the Perama cave, considered to be the largest horizontal cave in the Balkans
a. The silversmith workshops presently operating in Ioannina continue the tradition, creating hand-made products of high artistic and aesthetic perfection, worth of their glorious past. b. other traditional products of the region are 'feta' cheese and dairy products with unique taste and quality.
INTERNATIONAL FOLKLORE FESTIVAL of TRADITIONAL DANCES.
Also known as 'International Folk Festival'. Tarditional dance groups, clubs and societies from many countries of the world, Greece included, dressed in traditional costumes and accompanied by the proper folk music... Great spectacle-do not miss it if you are in Ioannina on July!