Pindus

The Pindus (also Pindos or Pindhos[1]) (Greek: Πίνδος) mountain range is located in northern Greece and southern Albania. It is roughly 160 km long, with a maximum elevation of 2,637m (Mount Smolikas). Because it runs along the border of Thessaly and Epirus, the Pindus range is known colloquially as the spine of Greece. The mountain range stretches from near the Greek-Albanian border in Northern Epirus, entering the Epirus and Macedonia regions in northern Greece down to the north of the Peloponnese. Geologically it is an extension of the Dinaric Alps, which dominate the western region of the Balkan Peninsula.

Pindus
Pindus Mountains 02 bgiu
Pindus in Thessaly
Highest point
PeakSmolikas
Elevation8,652 ft (2,637 m)
Coordinates40°05′20″N 20°55′31″E / 40.08889°N 20.92528°ECoordinates: 40°05′20″N 20°55′31″E / 40.08889°N 20.92528°E
Dimensions
Length112 mi (180 km) north-south
Width35 mi (56 km)
Geography
CountriesGreece and Albania
Provinces/CountiesWestern Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly, Central Greece, Korçë County and Gjirokastër County

History of the name

Historically, the name Pindos refers to the mountainous territory that separates the greater Epirus region from the regions of Macedonia and Thessaly.

According to John Tzetzes (a 12th-century Byzantine writer), the Pindos range was then called Metzovon.

When Anastasios Gordios translated (between 1682/83 and 1689) to a more conversational (colloquial) language the initial praise to St. Vissarion, which was drafted in 1552 by Pahomios Rousanos, he wrote: “A mountain called by the Greeks Pindos is the same mountain which is called Metzovon in Barbarian” and further down the same text he adds “this mountain, Metzovon, separates the Ioannina region from the Thessaloniki region.”

By the eighteenth century, there had been identification of the name Metsovo with the Pindos mountain range (in a French encyclopedia of 1756).[2] BY 1825, the traveller John Cam Hobhouse was writing that "…the latter mountains, now known by the name of Metzovo, can be no other than Pindus itself…"[3] while a patriarchal document of 1818 states: "Because the high mountain of Pindos in Epirus, that is commonly called Messovon...". The word Pindos was used more in literary sources, while the folk name for the mountain range from the Middle Ages up to the 19th century was either "Metsovo" or "the mountains of Metsovo". Most probably this name was not meant to indicate the whole range as it is meant today, but only its central part between the area of Aspropotamos and the springs of the Aoös River. This part coincides with the mountainous region which the ancient Greeks used to call Pindos.

Major mountains

The most notable mountains in the range are Mount Grammos, Mount Smolikas, Mount Vasilitsa, Tymfi or Gamila, Lakmos or Peristeri, the Athamanika or Tzoumerka mountains, and the Agrafa mountains. Some mountains in Southern Greece are also considered part of the extended Pindus range. Its highest peak is on Mount Smolikas at an altitude of 2,637 meters.

Population

There are many villages in the Pindus, one of them being Samarina, which boasts one of the highest elevations in Greece. Many of the villages such as Perivoli and Smixi include communities of Aromanians (Vlachs), originally shepherds and farmers. In the last decades, a number of villages, such as Metsovo, developed into tourist resorts with ski facilities.

Transportation

The Egnatia Odos highway serves the region and connects it with the rest of Greece.

Sightseeing

Besides the imposing mountainous terrain of the range, two significant gorges in Europe are located in the area: the Vikos Gorge and the Aoos Gorge. Together with the mountain valley of Valia Kalda they have been declared protected regions and constitute the National Park of Northern Pindos. Furthermore, many mountain settlements with long history and unique architecture are located throughout the range.

Nature and wildlife

Aspropotamos
Aspropotamos valley and Milia village in Trikala regional unit

The Pindus region covers a wide range of elevations and habitats, from deep canyons to steep mountains. The wide range in altitude results in two major forest zones:

Large breeding colonies of herons, spoonbills, egrets, and pelicans fish the waters of the mountain lakes of the Pindus. This is one of the few areas in Europe where the rare Dalmatian pelican can be found. Wolves, jackals, and bears are found in the forests.

Ecology

Southern Pindus IMG 3592
Parts of Southern Pindus

The forests of this region have faced many threats over the course of human history, including overgrazing, agriculture, and deforestation. The greatest threats now come from the development of mountain tourism and ski resorts. Because of the instability of the soil on steep mountains, road-building and clear-cutting operations have led to dangerous landslides and the collapse of mountain slopes. Mining for bauxite, overgrazing, and over-collection of plants are also threatening the great biodiversity of this ecoregion.

National Parks

In the Greek section of the Pindus mountains there are two national parks.

Vikos-Aoos National Park

The Vikos-Aoos National Park is south of the town of Konitsa, in the west part of Zagori region. It includes Mount Tymfi, the Vikos Gorge and the Aoos Gorge. It was created in 1973.

Pindus National Park

The Pindus National Park (also known as Valia Kalda) is in a remote area in the north east of the Pindus mountains, north of the town of Metsovo and south of Perivoli. The park of some 7,000 hectares was established in 1966. There are forests of black pine and beech, and in the higher parts, Bosnian Pine (Pinus leucodermis). The park is a refuge for bears, wild cats, and lynxes.[4]

The National Park was selected as main motif for two high value euro collectors' coins: the €10 Greek Birds and Flowers and Black Pine Trees commemorative coins, minted in 2007. On the obverse of the latter there is a panoramic view of the common black pine trees that are prevalent in the park.

See also

References

  1. ^ Latin form Pindus is used by Encarta. Both Pindus and Pindos are used by the Encyclopædia Britannica (here and here). It is the largest mountain range in Greece. Modern guidebooks tend to use Pindos (Baedeker's Greece, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide, Cicerone Mountain Walking) or Pindhos (Lonely Planet, Rough Guide).
  2. ^ Moreri, Louis (1732). Pierre-Augustin Le Mercier (ed.). Le grand dictionnaire historique, ou Le mélange curieux de l'histoire sacrée et profane. 4. p. 1060.
  3. ^ Hobhouse, John Cam (1825). A journey through Albania and other provinces of Turkey in Europe and Asia to Constantinople during the years 1809 and 1810, Volume 1. James Cawthorn. p. 61.
  4. ^ Valia Kalda Refuge website

Sources

  • N. Hammond, Epirus, vol. A΄, transl. Athanasiou Giagka, publ. Epirotiki Vivliothiki, Athens 1971, pp. 12–13.
  • F. Dasoulas, “Pindos, oi geografikes kai istorikes diastaseis enos onomatos” [Pindos, the geographical and historic dimensions of a name], Epirotiko Imerologio 31(2012), pp. 189–254
  • K. Tsipiras, Oreini Ellada [Mountainous Greece], publ. Kedros S.A., 2003, pp.14–61
  • N. Kosmas, “Oi diodoi tis Pindou” [The passages of Pindos], Epirotiki Estia 4 (1955), pp. 14–20.
  • N. Pihtos, H aisthitiki tis Pindou [The aesthetics of Pindos], publ. City of Metsovo, Ioannina 1988.
  • B. Nitsiakos, Oi oreines koinotites tis voreias Pindou. Ston apoiho tis makras diarkeias [The mountainous settlements of Northern Pindos. Long term echoes], publ. Plethron, Athens 1995.

Further reading

  • Salmon, T. (2006), The Mountains of Greece: The Pindos Mountains, Cicerone Press, ISBN 978-1-85284-440-0

External links

21st Armoured Brigade (Greece)

The 21st Armoured Cavalry Brigade "Pindus (Greek: XXI Τεθωρακισμένη Ταξιαρχία Ιππικού «ΠΙΝΔΟΣ», XXI ΤΘΤ) is a tank formation of the Hellenic Army, based in Komotini, Western Thrace.

Agrafa

Agrafa (Greek: Άγραφα, Greek pronunciation: [ˈaɣrafa]) is a mountainous region in Evrytania and Karditsa regional units in mainland Greece, consisting mainly of small villages. It is the southernmost part of the Pindus range. There is also a municipality with the same name, the Municipality of Agrafa, but it covers only a small percentage of the area.

Aoös

The Aoös (Greek: Αώος) or Vjosë (Albanian: [ˈvjɔsə]) is a river in northwestern Greece and southwestern Albania. Its total length is about 272 kilometres (169 mi), of which the first 80 kilometres (50 mi) are in Greece, and the remaining 192 kilometres (119 mi) are in Albania. Its drainage basin is 6,706 km2 (2,589 sq mi) and its average discharge is 195 m3/s (6,900 cu ft/s). It is fed by several tributaries, such as the Voidomatis, Sarantaporos, Drino and Shushicë.

The Aoös' source is in Greece, specifically in the Pindus mountains in Epirus, near the village of Vovousa. An artificial lake has been constructed at an altitude of 1350 meters, and there is a hydroelectric dam in place since 1987. It flows through the Vikos–Aoös National Park, where it forms towering canyons and then flows through the town of Konitsa, where it is joined by the Voidomatis. It enters Albania near Çarshovë, where it is joined by the Sarantaporos. and then continues northwest through Përmet, Këlcyrë, Tepelenë (where it is joined by the Drino), Memaliaj, Selenicë and Novoselë. It then flows into the Adriatic Sea, northwest of Vlorë; mouth of the river is situated within the boundaries of the Vjosa-Narta Protected Landscape.

Battle of Elaia–Kalamas

The Battle of Elaia–Kalamas (Greek: Μάχη Ελαίας-Καλαμά, Machi Elaias-Kalama) took place in Epirus from 2–8 November 1940. The battle was fought between the Greeks and the Italians during the initial stage of the Greco-Italian War. The Italian Army, deployed on the Greek-Albanian border, launched an offensive against Greece on 28 October 1940. The main thrust of the Italian invasion occurred in the Epirus sector, with a further flanking move through the Pindus mountains. In Epirus, the Greeks held the Elaia–Kalamas river line, and even though the Greek army was outnumbered, the local Greek forces under Major General Charalambos Katsimitros managed to stop the Italian advance. Along with the Italian failure in the Battle of Pindus, these Greek successes signified the complete failure of the Italian invasion, leading to the dismissal of the Italian commander in Albania, Sebastiano Visconti Prasca, on 9 November. In the next few weeks the Greek forces managed to initiate a counter-offensive, which forced the Italians to retreat deep into Albania.

Battle of Pindus

The Battle of Pindus (Greek: Μάχη της Πίνδου) took place in the Pindus Mountains in Epirus and West Macedonia, Greece, from 28 October–13 November 1940. The battle was fought between the Greek and the Italian armies during the first stages of the Greco-Italian War. The Italian 3rd Alpine Division Julia (Julia Division) invaded Greece from the Pindus sector. After its initial advance, the division was surrounded and virtually wiped out by the Greek army. In the aftermath, the Greeks were able to push back the Italians, advancing deep into Albanian territory.

Climate of Greece

The climate in Greece is predominantly Mediterranean. However, due to the country's unique geography, Greece has a remarkable range of micro-climates and local variations. To the west of the Pindus mountain range, the climate is generally wetter and has some maritime features. The east of the Pindus mountain range is generally drier and windier in summer. The highest peak is Mount Olympus, 2,918 metres (9,573 ft). The north areas of Greece have a transitional climate between the continental and the Mediterranean climate. There are mountainous areas that have an alpine climate.

Epirus

Epirus () is a geographical and historical region in southeastern Europe, now shared between Greece and Albania. It lies between the Pindus Mountains and the Ionian Sea, stretching from the Bay of Vlorë and the Acroceraunian mountains in the north to the Ambracian Gulf and the ruined Roman city of Nicopolis in the south. It is currently divided between the region of Epirus in northwestern Greece and the counties of Gjirokastër, Vlorë, and Berat in southern Albania. The largest city in Epirus is Ioannina, seat of the region of Epirus, with Gjirokastër the largest city in the Albanian part of Epirus.A rugged and mountainous region, Epirus was the north-west area of ancient Greece. It was inhabited by the Greek tribes of the Chaonians, Molossians, and Thesprotians, and home to the sanctuary of Dodona, the oldest ancient Greek oracle, and the most prestigious one after Delphi. Unified into a single state in 370 BC by the Aeacidae dynasty, Epirus achieved fame during the reign of Pyrrhus of Epirus who fought the Roman Republic in a series of campaigns. Epirus subsequently became part of the Roman Republic along with the rest of Greece in 146 BC, which was followed by the Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire.

Following the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade, Epirus became the center of the Despotate of Epirus, one of the successor states to the Byzantine Empire. Conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, Epirus became semi-independent during the rule of Ali Pasha in the early 19th century, but the Ottomans re-asserted their control in 1821. Following the Balkan Wars and World War I, southern Epirus became part of Greece, while northern Epirus became part of Albania.

Greek National Road 20

Greek National Road 20 (Greek: Εθνική Οδός 20, abbreviated as EO20) is a single carriageway road in northwestern Greece. It links the cities of Ioannina and Kozani via Konitsa and Siatista. It passes through the Ioannina, Kastoria and the Kozani regional units. Since the opening of the A2 (Egnatia Odos), it is no longer the fastest connection between Kozani and Ioannina. The section between Ioannina and Kalpaki is part of the European route E853.

Konstantinos Davakis

Konstantinos Davakis (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Δαβάκης, 1897 – 21 January 1943) was a Greek military officer in World War II. He organized the Greek defensive lines during the Battle of Pindus that led to Italian defeat in the first stage of the Greco-Italian War of 1940.

Nemërçka

Nemërçka Mountains (Albanian: Nemërçkë, Greek: Doúsko, Nemértsika or Aeropós Δούσκο, Νεμέρτσικα or Αεροπός) are a mountain range in southern Albania between Përmet and Gjirokastër District, which extends from a north-west direction to the south-east near the border between Albania and Greece. Geologically, Nemërçkë is a limestone-flysch forming a massive anticline situated between the graben valley of Vjosë river. The mountain forms the southern section of the Trëbëshinj-Dhëmbel-Nemërçka mountain chain. To the north, Nemërçkë is separated from the Albanian Pindus mountains, by the Vjosë river. The mountains are characterized by steep cliffs and wooden mountain slopes. The eastern scarps falls on the Vjosë river, 2000 metres down.

Nemërçka falls within the Pindus Mountains mixed forests terrestrial ecoregion of the Palearctic temperate broadleaf and mixed forest. Its forests are renowned for housing European beech (Fagus sylvatica). It is the southernmost point where European beech can be found in Albania.Maja e Papingut, (formerly Albanian: Maja e Dritës), is the highest peak within the mountain range. With an elevation of 2,482 m (8,143 ft) and a prominence of 1,792 m (5,879 ft) above sea level, it is the 44th most prominent mountain peak in Europe. Other peaks in Nemërçkë includes Maja e Gatakut 2,269 m (7,444 ft), Maja e Qesarit 2,253 m (7,392 ft), and Maja e Poliçanit 2,138 m (7,014 ft).

Pindus Mountains mixed forests

The Pindus Mountains mixed forests constitute a terrestrial ecoregion of Europe according to both the WWF and Digital Map of European Ecological Regions by the European Environment Agency. It belongs to the biome of Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub, and to the Palearctic ecozone.

The Pindus Mountains mixed forests are situated in the montane parts of the southern Balkans in the wide altitudinal range above 300–500 m. They cover Taygetus on the Peloponnesus in the south, occur in the mountain ranges of Central Greece (including the Pindus), eastern Albania and the southwestern part of North Macedonia, extend to the Drin River valley in the north and occupy 39,500 km² (15,300 sq. mi) in the three countries.

The ecoregion is landlocked and surrounded by the Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests (in Greece), Illyrian deciduous forests (in Greece and Albania), Dinaric Mountains mixed forests (in Albania to the north of the Drin) and Balkan mixed forests (in Kosovo, North Macedonia and Greece).

The climate of the ecoregion is mostly of Köppen's Mediterranean type with hot summers (Csa).

Due to the wide altitudinal range of this ecoregion the highest elevations (above 1,000-1,400 m) are covered with coniferous forests, with a mixed broadleaf zone occurring lower. The coniferous forests are dominated by Pinus nigra subsp. nigra var. pallasiana, Abies cephalonica and A. borisii-regis, with deciduous European Beech in the north. Juniperus foetidissima occurs widely near the tree line. The dominant species on the lower elevations are remarkably diverse, including Aesculus hippocastanum (in more damp places) and various deciduous oaks (Quercus frainetto, Q. pubescens, Q. cerris, Q. trojana, Q. petraea). Evergreen oaks, mainly Q. calliprinos, and other Mediterranean sclerophyll shrubland species are abundant on dry and rocky south-facing slopes.

Phytogeographically, the ecoregion is shared between the East Mediterranean province of the Mediterranean Region and the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region within the Holarctic Kingdom (Armen Takhtajan's delineation).

Pindus National Park

Pindus National Park (Greek: Εθνικός Δρυμός Πίνδου Ethnikós Drymós Píndou), also known as Valia Calda (meaning the Warm Valley in Aromanian), is a national park in mainland Greece, situated in an isolated mountainous area at the periphery of West Macedonia and Epirus, in the northeastern part of the Pindus mountain range. It was established in 1966 and covers an area of 6,927 hectares (17,120 acres). The park's core zone, 3,360 hectares (8,300 acres), covers the greatest part of the Valia Calda valley and the slopes of the surrounding peaks.The national park has an elevation range from 1,076 to 2,177 metres (3,530 to 7,142 ft) and is characterized by dense forests of European black pine and common beech, rocky ridges, several peaks over 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), rapid streams and mountain lakes. The area belong to the wider Pindus Mountains mixed forests ecoregion and is a representative part of

Pindus mountain range. Moreover, it belongs to the Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas and is one of the three places in Greece that hosts a population of bears.

Pineios (Thessaly)

The Pineiós (Greek: Πηνειός, Greek pronunciation: [piniˈos], referred to in Latin sources as Peneus) is a river in Thessaly, Greece. The river is named after the god Peneus. During the later Middle Ages, it was also known as the Salambrias or Salabrias (Σαλα[μ]βριάς).

It flows from the Pindus mountains and empties into the Aegean Sea, northeast of Vale of Tempe, near Stomio. It creates a large delta, well known for its beauty and for many animal species, protected by international environmental treaties. Its total length is 205 km. Its source is near the village Malakasi, on the eastern slope of the Pindus main range, east of Metsovo. The Meteora region and the city of Larissa lie along the Pineiós. Trikala lies on its tributary, the Lithaios. In the 1960s, a freeway connecting Athens and Thessaloniki was constructed in much of the Vale of Tempe.

The battleship Pineios is named after the river.

Principality of the Pindus

The name Principality of the Pindus (Aromanian: Printsipat di la Pind; Greek: Πριγκιπάτο της Πίνδου; Italian: Principato del Pindo) is used in literature to describe the attempt to create an autonomous canton under the protection of Italy at the end of World War I, in July and August 1917, from Vlach-speaking population of Samarina and other villages of the Pindus mountains of Northern Greece during the short period of occupation by Italy of the district of Gjirokastra and regions of Epirus. The attempt was not successful and no such principality was ever formed. A declaration was made after the arrival of Italian troops in Samarina. In the immediate withdrawal of Italians a few days later, Greek troops appeared without meeting any resistance.Since then there was no mention of any similar activity until 1941-2 when the territory of Greece were occupied by Italy, Germany and Bulgaria under the World War II. At that time, Alcibiades Diamandi, a Vlach from Samarina who also took part in the events of 1917, was active with an organization called in later literature with the name Vlach "Roman Legion" (at the time called "Legion" or "Roman Legion"). As part of the activity of the legion in the areas of mainly Thessaly (and Epirus, and West Macedonia), it was mentioned as an intention of Diamandi to create a semi-independent entity by the name "Principality of the Pindus" or "Independent State of Pindos" or "Canton". The "Legion" was never able to assert itself over the Vlachs whom it supposedly represented, nor over the local population until its de facto disbandment in 1943 due to the activity of the Greek Resistance and the Italian capitulation, leaving them without real support from the German command. In other sources, no name is assigned to the events of 1917 in Pindus.

Roman Legion (1941–43)

The "Roman Legion", Vlach "Roman Legion" or Vlach Legion (as it is mentioned in some cases in later bibliography) is the name used by the political and paramilitary organization active during the period 1941-1943, in Greece, in the regions of Thessaly and Macedonia, created by Alcibiades Diamandi, a Vlach from Samarina who served as an agent of Italy and Romania.

Samarina

Samarina (Greek: Σαμαρίνα, Aromanian: Samarina, Xamarina, San Marina) is a village and a former municipality in Grevena regional unit, West Macedonia, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Grevena, of which it is a municipal unit. Its population primarily consists of Aromanians (sometimes called Vlachs). It attracts many tourists due to its scenic location and beautiful pine and beech forests. The population was 378 people as of 2011. The municipal unit has an area of 97.245 km2.Samarina is the most famous of all the Aromanian (Vlach) villages of the Pindus and the inhabitants are fiercely proud of their heritage and traditions. Every summer on August 15, on the feast of the Dormition of the Virgin, Samarinans from all over the world assemble on their ancestral village to celebrate. There, on the main square outside the Great Church, they perform the "Great Dance" (Greek: Tranós Chorós, Aromanian: Corlu Mari): thousands of people hold hands and form concentric circles, and they walk slowly and ceremonially counterclockwise, while singing their traditional songs in a rousing unison chorus.

Smolikas

Mount Smolikas (Greek: Σμόλικας, Aromanian: Smolcu) is a mountain in the Ioannina regional unit, northwestern Greece. At a height of 2,637 metres above sea level, it is the highest of the Pindus Mountains, and the second highest mountain in Greece after Mount Olympus. The mountain consists of ophiolite rocks. During several periods in the Pleistocene the northern and eastern cirques and valleys were glaciated. The last glaciers of this area retreated around 11,500 years ago. It is drained by the river Aoos to the south, and the river Vourkopotamo (a tributary of the Sarantaporos) to the north. There is a small alpine lake called "Drakolimni Smolika" near the summit, at about 2,200 metres elevation. Nearby mountain ranges are Tymfi to the south, Gramos to the northwest, Vasilitsa to the southeast and Voio to the northeast.

The higher elevations, above 2,000 metres, consist of grasslands and rocks, and there are deciduous and conifer forests at lower elevations. The mountain lies completely within the municipality of Konitsa, the main villages around the mountain being Agia Paraskevi to the north, and Palaioselli, Pades and Armata to the south. The town Konitsa lies 15 km southwest of Smolikas. The Greek National Road 20 (Kozani - Siatista - Konitsa - Ioannina) passes west of the mountain.

Vasilitsa

Vasilitsa is a ski resort in Greece. The ski center is located in the middle of Pindos (40.033N, 21.083E), approximately 42km away from Grevena and 417km from Athens. The ski resorts currently has 5 lifts and 16 ski trails. The summit of the resort is 2113m above sea level and the total vertical drop about 450m. The quality and quantity of snowfall at Vasilitsa allow for many off-piste routes.

It is the only Greek ski resort with superb black-pine trees surrounding the ski trails.

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