Movement and Routes

the routes of Builders and Artists, the routes of the Shepherds, Old and New routes

The communities that have inhabited this peak girt landscape down the centuries developed an elaborate system of transportation routes which allowed their villages to communicate both among themselves and with the nearest urban centres. Travel, which took place on foot or using animals, took many hours, even days, and was largely determined by weather conditions and by the season, since the footpaths were covered in snow in the winter and the villages cut off. The network is admirably organized and successfully minimizes the time spent travelling while limiting the risks posed by wild animals and rock slides and exploiting the terrain and space to the best advantage to allow the least number of paths to serve the maximum number of villages. This was how the communities of the Aoos valley employed their unique knowledge of their land and environment, its limitations and affordances, to develop a culture of communication.

Travelling these local routes from soaring peaks to riverside passes, through valleys, forests and stone-built villages, the paths of craftsmen, muleteers, pedlars and shepherds would cross. Each bearing with them their crafts and goods, their livestock and worldly goods, ideas and traditions, they would stop to rest at the hans, the little wayside inns with their chambers and their stables. There, they would exchange experiences, stories and impressions from their travels.

To a large extent, the area owes its current character to those paths and cobbles which allowed this mountain folk to shrug off the inwardness that isolation can bring.  

The three sections of this thematic route reflect this culture of communication that linked the Aoos area to the rest of the world, bringing prosperity to the region in the process.  Along the banks of the Saradaporos river in the Mastorohoria (Craftsmen villages), you can follow the route of the builders and artists. Their creations, found across the globe, perfectly combine practical and aesthetic elements and bear witness to their profound knowledge of materials.

The routes of the shepherds will lead you to mountainous paths and to the Pindos’ alpine meadows. Once, hundreds of flocks, mastershepherds and herders with horses, donkeys and the ever-haughty gisemia, trod on these paths, making their way from the summer to the winter pastures. These people were not only intermediaries of the mountain culture, transporting goods and ideas as they went but also enriched their environment through its wise management and engaged in other economically significant activities like cheese-making and weaving.

The old and new routes will help you discover the infrastructure people built so they could bypass the obstacles nature placed in their path: cart tracks, paths carved into the mountainsides, cobbled ways, terraces, bridges and flights of stone steps. Nowadays, they are used by hikers and mountaineers who set off in search of adventure in their ancestors’ footsteps.

The Ecomuseum guide book provides more detailed information on this route and its interest points. You can also get a taste of the area and the route through the virtual tour.

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26 Craftsmen villages
2 museums
2497m altitude
31 trails