A cluster of traditional, picturesque villages on Mount Pindos in Epirus, known as the Zagorochoria (or villages of Zagori), was recently inducted onto UNESCO’s World Heritage List. This momentous decision was made during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, marking a significant milestone in Greece‘s cultural heritage preservation efforts.
A Cultural Milestone for Greece
Culture Minister Lina Mendoni expressed her elation, stating, “It is the first time that a cultural area of Greece that comprises an outstanding example of our modern cultural heritage is listed.” This recognition is a historic achievement for Greece as it diverges from the typical ancient Greek and Byzantine focus of previous listings on the World Heritage List.
UNESCO Recognition and Cultural Preservation Obligation
UNESCO recognized the remarkable ecumenical value of Zagori architecture, showcasing its exemplary fusion of Byzantine and Ottoman architectural influences. Furthermore, UNESCO acknowledged the area’s authenticity and integrity as essential criteria for its prestigious inclusion on the World Heritage List. The Culture Minister emphasized that this listing serves as both an invitation and a solemn obligation for Greece to safeguard and preserve the cultural legacy of Zagorochoria.
The Enchanting Zagorochoria Villages
Located in a remote rural landscape in northwestern Greece, Zagorochoria consists of small stone villages that sprawl along the western slopes of the northern part of the Pindus mountain range. These traditional villages are typically organized around a central square, featuring ancient plane trees and surrounded by sacred forests meticulously maintained by local communities. What makes these villages truly remarkable is their architecture, perfectly adapted to the rugged mountain topography.
A Network of Tradition
A network of stone-arched bridges, stone-cobbled paths, and stone staircases seamlessly connects these charming villages, forming a system that once served as a political and social unit, linking the communities of the Voidomatis River basin. These historic structures are not just testaments to architectural prowess but also symbolic of the deep-rooted traditions and sense of community that define Zagorochoria.
Prime Minister’s Praise
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis welcomed the inclusion of Zagorochoria on the UNESCO World Heritage List via social media. He applauded the efforts of the culture ministry and the Epirus Regional Authority, noting that this achievement aligned with his own personal commitment since 2019. The inclusion of Zagorochoria showcases the fruitful collaboration between government bodies, local communities, and cultural enthusiasts in preserving Greece’s rich heritage.