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To Zalongo, Preveza and Parga

Home -> Europe -> Greece -> Travelogue Greece -> 09 & 10 July 2017

Sunday 09 July, to Zalongo, Preveza and Parga

Today we go south to view the archaeological site Kassopi, but also the monument of Zalongo and then to Preveza. First we pass the Nekromanteion when we drive out of ammoudia but we have been there 2 years ago. Via Megadendro and Myrsini we drive into the mountains, narrow winding roads that Teije likes but I do like them a bit less. The signage has become almost illegible in many places, but we are used to that in Greece. It often happens that there are no signposts at all. But luckily we still have the navigation and nowadays we often search for the longitude and latitude of a place and enter it as a destination. In a sharp bend we see faded signs indicating that here is the site of ancient Kassopi but the rusty fences are all closed and we can not go on the terrain. It was a fairly large city with 6 kilometers of city walls around it and we must hope that the site can be visited again in the future. Nearby is the monument of Zalongo, on the mountain of Zalongo.
The monument of Zalongo (Zaloggo) The monument of Zalongo in the sunThe monument was visible from afar and stands imposingly against the blue sky. The reason for the monument is far less great: the inhabitants of Souli were fierce opponents of the Ottomans and Ali Pasha who was then the ruler. In 1803 most Souliots were killed by the Turks but a group of women with their children managed to escape. They were, however, cornered on a cliff, the Stefani, and could not go any further. According to the story they started to dance, then threw their children off the rocks and jumped themselves behind them, dancing. They knew what would happen to them if they fell into the hands of the Turks and chose death over a life of slavery, oppression and rape.
The event quickly became known and legends were made around it, so there are different stories going around: it would be 22 or 63 women, there would also be men or maybe not and some children would have survived the fall of more than 70 meters and were cared for in the monastery at the bottom of the cliff. Anyway, it is an impressive and sad story and we can not imagine how those women must have felt that they were driven into such an act.
The story quickly circulated in Greece and Europe and inspired during the war of independence (1821-1829) the slogan: freedom or death! The monument was completed in 1961 and shows 6 dancing women standing hand in hand and is also called 'the dance of Zalongo'.
Stairs to the Zalongo monument Teije hesitates whether he will climb to the Zalongo monument410 steps lead to the monument, but after the first steps, Teije knows that his knee will not be able to make it, and I hurt my back quickly during such a climb. Absolutely nothing compared to what those women had to endure in 1803 but we choose to come back another time when we are both fitter and then take plenty of time to climb up. We are very impressed by the story, the place and what we can see from here of the monument that we certainly want to go upstairs sometime and we are a bit disappointed that it is not possible now.
A car full of flowers and plans in Nea ThesiWe drive out of the mountains towards the coast near Nea Thesi and Kanali where we drink coffee. Then we drive to Nikopolis on the bay of Amvrakikos. The bay is a large inland sea with many marshes on the north side and a part of it is a national park where many species of birds live. A lot of fish is also cultivated in the inland sea. The sea is best known for the battle at Actium (now called Aktion) where in 31 BC. the fleet of Cleopatra and Mark Antony against that of Octavian fought and Cleopatra lost. Octavian later became the Emperor of Rome, better known as Augustus.
Early-Byzantine walls of Nicopolis Remains of the old NicopolisAfter his victory, Octavian founded here the city of Nicopolis, meaning the city of victory. The inhabitants of the surrounding towns were forced to move to the city and their own villages and towns were destroyed. There are still many remains from Roman and Byzantine times to be found and excavations are still being carried out. There are some very beautiful mosaics found in a Roman villa but a large part of the site is closed and we can not visit everything. Too bad, but typical Greek, we have been at so many interesting sites that were unfortunately closed.
Street in Preveza Garden in PrevezaSo we drive on to Preveza, which, like yesterday Perdika, seems extinct, there are virtually no people on the street. Preveza is a small port city and built against a hill. We first walk to the boulevard at the sea and then through the narrow alleys where we find a terrace for a fresh salad. Today is another hot day and we can use a refreshment. It strikes me that the inhabitants love flowers and also with hot summer weather they take good care of it, we see a lot of nice courtyards that are decorated with colorful flowers.
Bell tower in PrevezaBut we do not understand that it is so quiet on the street, would that also be because of the heat, that everybody is hiding inside or on the beach? We read in our travel guides that Preveza is a large cultural center where festivals are regularly celebrated. There is even a sardine festival that is held in the first weekend of agustus where 2 tons of sardines are grilled and the wine is free. In the city itself, the remains of several forts can be seen, including a Venetian fort, because in the Venetian war against the Ottomans they regularly acquired pieces of Greece although Preveza was later returned to the Turks and only in 1912 became part of present-day Greece. There is an Ottoman bell tower from 1752 but we like the smaller bell tower, here in the picture, much better.
View of the bay at Skala beach From our balcony in AmmoudiaOn the way back to Ammoudia we look at a few more beaches but finally go to the beach along the Bay of Odysseus where we were before. Today it is a bit busier than yesterday but not as crowded as on many other beaches that we have seen. At the end of the afternoon we go back to Ammoudia where we take a walk through the village and sit down at a terrace. Then we spend the evening on our narrow balcony, actually it is a gallery that runs all the way around the building. Only one other room has been let, so no one bothers us (and we don't bother the others).

Monday 10 July 2017, visiting nice, but touristy Parga

Agios Giannakis beach The bay at LychnasFrom the main road to Igoumenitsa we turn to the coast. This is also a mountainous area and there are not everywhere roads so we sometimes have to make a detour to reach a place. On the way to Parga, we also want to see all the intermediate beaches and for that we have to go down some exciting, narrow roads once in a while. The coast here is very erratic and there are many inlets and bays, sometimes with beautiful but often small beaches. We do not search for a beach yet, we'll do that this afternoon, but it's nice to see them all.
The coast at Parga Rock islands off the coast of PargaParga is a cute village that is built against a hill with colored houses in the harbor and has 2 beaches in the town itself, but because of this it has become the most touristy place in the region. Two years ago we were here once but we only realize that now, now we write down the travel story. When we drive into the town today, we think we are here for the first time. That does not happen often, that we forget something like that. While it is a very characteristic place with the islands and rocks in the sea in sight of the city.
Chapel on the island of Panagia for Parga The busy beach in PargaThe largest island before the coast is Panagia, a word that literally means 'all-holy' and is used to indicate Mary, the mother of Jesus. The name Mary itself is hardly used in Greek Orthodoxism. On the island there is a church and a chapel, both dedicated to Mary. There would have been two images of Mary washed up here which the Greeks saw as a sign. From the busy beach in the town you can easily swim to the island. Slightly to the west, behind the high hill, on which a Venetian fortress stands and outside the center, is an even bigger beach, but that is mostly owned by several tourist resorts.
Parga is built against a hill The Venetian castle in PargaThe castle stands atop a rock that protrudes into the sea and was built in the 11th century by the residents to defend themselves against pirates and the Ottomans. In the 13th century the Venetians gained more and more power in this area and they fortified the fort. But the Turks destroyed it twice and every time the Venetians rebuilt it. Also the British were here for a while but sold the city to the Turks, which the residents naturally were not so happy about and most of them moved to Corfu, only to return when Parga became part of an independant Greece in 1912 or 1923. Now the fort is a popular place to watch the sunset.
Alley in PargaAt the end of the harbor we find a narrow staircase that leads to the alleys of the old town, a cozy maze of streets where many shops are located, most of course for tourists like all kinds of souvenir shops with many handmade local products. It is very nice to wander around here and you can also climb further to the castle but the knee of Teije does not really cooperate and after a while we go back down carefully. There we look for a terrace to rest and the difficulty is not to find a terrace but to choose one because the whole port is full of them.
In our travel guide it is said that Parga is a well-kept secret of Greece, but who sees all those tourists walking around and bathing knows that a lot of people have already discovered the secret. In the high season all accommodation seems to be sold out. But the place is certainly worth a visit and we will certainly come back again.
The beach at the Bay of OdysseusAfter our visit we drive to our own, almost empty, beach in the afternoon, which is quite a difference with Parga and the other beaches around here. In the weekend it is always busier because then the Greeks like to go to the beach themselves, but today we have a virtually empty beach for ourselves. This place is therefore on our list of gems and best kept secrets of Greece. Admittedly, those white beaches in small coves with cliffs in the background and an azure blue sea look far more idyllic but in the end it's all about whether you can enjoy the environment or that you have to share it with hundreds of others. Our most favorite beaches are not the most beautiful but the most quiet, with fine sand, a sandy bottom in the sea and calm water.


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