Fruits of Nature

Gifts of the forest, Nature as source of inspiration and Music: where nature joins culture

Entering Albania from Greece, Vjosa River creates a picturesque valley. The visitor’s eye is caught by a panorama of images succeeding harmoniously on the landscape –from the calm waters of the river and the cultivated fields aside the river banks to the forested hills rising along both sides of the valley. Monumental natural formations sitting up on the hillsides, picturesque villages hanging from the cliffs, stone bridges and pathways, complement the image of the area. This thematic route has three sections.

The gifts of the Forest explore the flora and fauna of the area. When crossing the Vjosa valley you will find that 2/5 of the total surface is covered by forests, the majority of which date before the World War II. Oaks, beeches, firs and pine trees are the most extensive forest ecosystems. Dominating the area is the Fir of Hotova National Park, a protected area of approximately 34361.1  ha, which is known for the presence of the Macedonian (reddish) fir (Abies borisii-regis), a quite rare Mediterranean species. It is also known for its abundance in medicinal herbs, over 120 species, the use of which is a century long tradition practiced by the locals. The local fauna is also quite diverse with brown bears, wild boar, wild goats, roe deer and others.

Nature as a source of inspiration explores the way in which natural wealth influenced local culture, the arts and productive activities. The locals have always showed deep respect for the elements of nature, as can be seen through the number of legends and myths related to springs, stones, sacred trees and places of the area. The tradition of wood processing is deeply rooted to the local peoples’ way of life and their inextricable link with the natural environment as is the masonry and the use of stone for constructions, bearing similarities to those that can be found in the North of Greece.  

Music, the final section of this thematic route, concerns Përmet folk music which is part of the Albanian iso-polyphony (‘iso polifoniia’), a highly elaborate musical genre mainly performed by the Tosks and Labs of South Albania that has been included in UNESCO’s ‘Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’. This authentic expression of the unique cultural identity of the mountainous region of Përmet has its roots in the Byzantine times; its mastery lies not only in the musical composition but also in the epic nature of the accompanying songs.

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34361.1 ha national park
40% forest cover
120 medicinal plants
5 band members