Bridges bring people and cultures together. The stone bridges of Greece are mostly built in rugged landscapes and stand as architectural masterpieces of superb craftsmanship. They are associated with legends, with local traditions and sometimes even with tragic stories. The rocky paths of Epirus take us past some well-hidden historic stone bridges. To find them, you may need to swim in large rivers, walk along riverbanks or just follow city roads. At times, sheep and goats will lead the way; at others signposts or downhill trails will point you in the right destination!
If you are looking for adventure, put on your hiking boots and pack your gear. The journey starts at dawn! But if you are a city-lover and interested in traditional architecture, just follow us!
Kayak down the Arahthos gorge and pass under the impressive multi-arch Papastathis bridge, or join a rafting party to see the biggest single arch bridge in Greece, in a village near the city of Ioannina.
When you are in the town of Ioannina, why not enjoy a long afternoon promenade around Lake Pamvotida? Visit the city’s fortress “Kastro” and wander around the Its-Kale Acropolis to find the Fetihe Mosque built by Ali Pasha during the Turkish occupation. Tour the Archaeological and the Epirus Folklore Art Museums, or visit art exhibitions in the city’s galleries. Savour a delicious meal at exquisite dining spots near the lake. Find gifts of fine antique jewelry in the old town, where centuries-old houses and jewelry shops create a unique cityscape. If you are interested in old monasteries or exceptional traditional cuisine, take a small boat and visit the isle of Ioannina, in the northeastern part of the city’s lake.
Hike along the Wine Roads of Northern Greece in the mountain village of Zitsa, a place praised by Lord Byron in his famous poem “Childe Harold”. Theogefiro, a natural stone bridge, is the area’s most striking wonder.
Tour around the Zagorochoria villages using the bridges as your signposts. Hit the trails that connect the villages Papigo and Mikro Papigo through the Vikos-Aoos National Forest, and have an invigorating swim in the two natural forest lakes. Follow the mountain trails to Kipoi, an ideal mountain tourism destination: cross its two rivers (Vikakis and Baniotikos) using the Kalogeriko (or Plakidas), a three arch bridge with a serpentine deck. Trekking through the Aspraggeli, Dikoryfo, Manassis and Kaloutas villages, you will find the Kaloutas bridge, which used to join the village to the Vissikou Monastery (dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary).
(Kalogeriko or Plakidas bridge)
In the heart of Vovousa settlement, in eastern Zagori, a single arch stone bridge spans the Aoos river. The village is an ideal destination for bird watching, or other voluntary activities as it is located near the National Park of Valia Kalda, a protected forest populated with rare species of flora and fauna.
The city of Arta is located on the banks of the River Arahthos, and its name is associated with a historic bridge. According to an old legend, the chief craftsman had to sacrifice his wife in order to construct this bridge, since otherwise it would collapse every night. The bridge is 145m long and has 12 arches, one for each Apostle.
Peer into the past at the city’s archaeological sites, which include sections of the ancient walls of Amvrakia, a Byzantine Castle, an open-air municipal theatre and the Faik Pasha Mosque. Visit the city’s museums, old churches and monasteries or go on a day-trip to nearby destinations, such as the villages of Vlaherna, or Peta to taste the local tsipouro and traditional cuisine. In the village of Voulyareli, a fairy is waiting for you as she bathes under her bridge, the Neraida (fairy) bridge.
Final destination: the prefecture of Thesprotia and the village of Plakoti. Go canyoning at “Stena” canyon, near the River Kalamas. The river was bridged with a 40m multi-arch bridge, but only one of its side arches still stands on the left bank of the river, while there is a now dilapidated edge pier on the opposite bank.
Finally, if you’d like to set out on a hiking expedition, discover the ruins of the city Osdina, near the village of Pénte Ekklisies (Five Churches), which dates back to late Byzantine times, or visit some old monasteries such as the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour (Metamorfosis tou Sotiros), and the Panagion Monastery, dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.