Tzoumerka is a mountain range that is located in northwestern Greece. These limestone peaks rise east of the Axeloos river and are surrounded by the main spine of the Pindus mountain range. There are many peaks in this range with the highest one in the front range being Katfiyi which stands at 2393 meters. The area is also heavily wooded and recieves more than 60 inches of rain per year. Snow can last on the highest peaks well into July and sometimes evenb in August.
The history of the area is rich as the first inhabitants of the area were named Athamones. These peoples left the area of Ioannina province and the lowlands of Arta to escape the oppressive Ottoman occupation that commenced in the 1500's and did not leave the area until 1821. The Athamones chose to live in the harsh conditions of the mountains rather than to live under under Turkish rule. Hence, the existence of the many wonderful towns that dot this wild and rugged area.
The figure of Katsantonis, a brave warrior from the village Petrovouni in Tzoumerka that lived and acted in the end of the 18th and beginning of
the 19th century is known from folklore tradition. He was a courageous man who fought Ali Pasha and his men with all the means he had, since it was because of him that he lost his family and fortune. He dominated in the untrodden mountains round the villages of Zagori and they could not catch him in any way. The legend has connected him with the monastery of Saint Paraskevi, which is found in the village Monodendri. They say
that he escaped from the trapdoor of the monastery every time the men of Ali Pasha chased him and came close to his traces. According to the tradition, the end of Katsantonis was horrible. After he was finally caught, they dragged him in Ioannina, where he died after Ali Pasha put somebody to crumble his bones with a hammer.
Many areas of Tzoumerka are part of Natura 2000, a network of protected areas, as many species of fauna and flora, a number of them endangered, are native of various areas in Tzoumerka. Moreover, many other species of wild animals find refuge in the forests of the region, which include firs, oaks, beeches, pines, bearberries, willows, planes, etc.
There are many organised guesthouses in many of the villages in Tzoumerka, where one can stay, and also restaurants and grill-houses that serve traditional dishes of Epirus to the visitors.
The Tzoumerka can be accessed by driving to any of the many villages that surround the high mountains. The two main points of entry are from Arta to the south and Ioannina in the north. From both cities the mountain can be reached in roughly 1 hours and 30 minutes, depending on which village you want to visit. The most famous towns are Kataraxtis, Kipseli, Pramanta, Melisourgi, Drosopigi, Agnanta and Sirako. The town of Kataraxtis affords the best access to Katafiyi, the highest peak as there is a access road that leads nearly to the top of the mountain. From Ioannina head south on highway E-951 until the signs for the town of Bafra are seen. Exit for Bafra heading east and follow the signs until you reach the town of your choice. It is fairly easy to follow directionsas the mountains tower in the easterly direction. From Arta, take highway 30 north following the signs for Drossopigi.
In winter the mountain roads can be especially dangerous as snowplows do not operate often and most of the villages are uninhabited.
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Other sites Monastery of Kipina
This monastery is found near the location Christoi. It is definitely the most impressive monastery of Epirus because of its unique place. It was built in 1212 by the archbishop Grigorios in a cave above the gorge of River Kalaritikos. It causes awe and admiration as it has "scrambled" on the vertical rock. It has several cells, it has a dome, while its interior is embellished by splendid murals that date back in the 18th century. Behind the temple there is an impressive cave that is
270 meters long, while the access to the path that exists by the side of the monastery is achieved via an astonishing pendent bridge. Do not miss it!!
Village of Sirako
It is one of the most historical and aristocratic villages of Epirus. It is 52 km away from Ioannina and it is found in 1.200 meters altitude. It is built on Mount Peristeri in the verge of a ravine and it is particularly famous so much for its traditional character but also because it is the birthplace of important historical figures for Greece. Ioannis Kolletis, the first constitutional Prime Minister of the country and Kostas Kristallis, a big poet and novelist are among them. In Sirako you will mainly admire the traditional houses with the marvelous Epirotic architecture but also important cultural monuments. Six unique churches are found there, such as that of Saint Nikolaos with the splendid temple and the impressive domes, the house of poet Kristallis that has been changed into a museum, the folklore museum Kostas Avdikos and a lot of
ther interesting sights.