Dzoumerka, Kakarditsa and Peristeri – three of the most imposing mountains in Greece – are truly fascinating.
Their deep gorges are breathtaking, while the sound of the waters flowing into the Arachtos River echoes throughout the area.
In this beautiful corner of Northwest Greece, the villages of Sirako and Kalariti are nestled among the rocky terrain, glistening cheerfully in the sunlight.
The two villages were built in the 14th-15th century by Vlach shepherds.
After securing special privileges and the protection of Valide Sultan (called the “mother sultan” of the Ottoman Empire) and thanks to their keen business acumen, the locals developed the area not only through the trade of agricultural products, but also with specific goods in which they specialized : waterproof cloaks are made at Siraco, and silverware at Calariti.
The Bulgari family, which founded the world-famous jewelry company Bulgari, originated from here.
Today, Kalariti and Sirako are two of the most beautiful villages in Greece, writes the English edition of the Kathimerini newspaper.
Calariti has a more rural feel, while Siraco is considered more picturesque.
However, both boast beautiful stone bridges, cobbled streets, stone houses with traditional slate roofs, old stone fountains and watermills – every aspect has been carefully researched and designed, creating a sense of privacy that can also be attributed to the few inhabitants and minimal development.
Enter Siraco on foot through the traditional stone gate. Already at the beginning of the village, you can see two bridges, the Fantanitsa spring and the mill. A walk through it reveals beautiful traditional country houses with arched entrances and old fountains made of stone.
You can also visit the Church of Saint Nikolaos with its carved wooden iconostasis made by craftsmen from Metsovo, as well as a shroud made of gold. Take a peek at the home of the Greek Kostas Kristalis – host of an interesting folklore exhibition.
Stroll the cobbled streets of Kalariti with its restored (and other dilapidated) stone houses and very old fountains.
Enjoy the atmosphere of the village square with its traditional café, then head to the 15th-century Church of Saint Nikolaos, decorated with wooden sculptures made by Metsovo artisans and ecclesiastical objects made by local silversmiths, located in a prominent place at the entrance of the village.
Everyone ends up at the famous Napoleonta Zagli cafe-cum-shop-guest house, enjoying delicious food, pleasant conversation and cheerful songs.
You can also take the cobbled road that connects Sirako to Kalariti through the gorge of the Kalaritikos river.
Another trail that starts from Kalariti leads to a bridge and then to a water mill with a waterfall and pool. This is the road that the residents of Kalariti used to go to the town of Ioannina until the 1990s, when the new route was built.
Saint Kipinas Monastery
The monastery of Saint Kipinas was built in 1212 in a cliff in the Kalaritikos gorge.
After crossing the small drawbridge that once protected it from robbers, you will see in the semi-darkness the ornate main church building with its exquisite iconostasis. You can also enter both the monk’s cells and the beautiful guest rooms.
For the adventurous, there are many hiking trails leading to the surrounding peaks. The one that starts from Siraco and passes by the church of Agios Apostoli, offers a spectacular view of Ioannina and ends at the foot of Mount Tzoukarella on Mount Peristeri.
You can also walk to Viliza Monastery, the Wallachian village of Matsuki with its waterfall and mill, or head to the Arachtos River and the four-arched stone bridge of Politsa – the starting point of a rafting route until you reach the historic stone bridge of Plaka.
Siraco is 52 km from Ioannina, while Calariti is 67 km away.
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