The Agrafa


Agrafa is a historic area and mountain range of central Greece, the southernmost end of Pindos.

They occupy the entire northern part of the prefecture of Evritania and the west of the Prefecture of Karditsa and are divided into the North, Western and Eastern Agrafa. Another visa divides them into Thessaly and Evrytanica Agrafa, depending on the prefectures in which they are located.

The older ones said that when God created the world, he took a handful of soil and passed it on a sieve. The fertility passed from it and the plains became. The stones and boulders fell on the ground and Agrafa was born.

According to the record of history, this rugged area with the impoverished mountains and indomitable inhabitants has never been subordinated to the central authority. In vain, the Byzantines tried to collect the taxes. The Ottomans were not better fortunate because it was the only part that the Turks did not occupy and never wrote in their tax records.

For many, Agrafa is the most beautiful mountainous area in Greece, as the historic mountain range is characterized by dozens of wild peaks that follow each other, creating the most isolated mountain range in Greece.

The beauty of Agraphon has to do with the fact that they are by far the toughest of Greece, as the numerous towering mountain peaks and the deep ravines are not easy to approach. The road network of the area consists almost exclusively of difficult dirt roads, while the few inhabitants still use paths that pass through old stone bridges. Isolation of the area, high altitudes, dense forests, ravines and rivers have contributed to the preservation of a rich wildlife and dozens of threatened species of Greek fauna and flora.

Why Agrafa?

Agramas said, because they never recorded them, because they deliberately left them out of the map because they never understood what people are looking for in this isolated mountainous complex.

There are several versions, some of which are:

– The name Agrafa originated from the ancient country Agraia, which included the area between the Agrafioti and Aspropotamos (Acheloos) rivers.

– The name derives from the difficulties that the Byzantines encountered in collecting taxes because of the unruly residents of the area who were not on the tax lists. It is said that they have achieved special privileges of autonomy and tax exemption, so they have remained “unwritten”.

– In another version, the name prevailed during the Ottoman occupation, when residents were also left in the tax lists. This is because the Turks, due to the mountainous and difficult terrain, did not manage to write them, unlike the 15 villages of Pindos east of the Kalamas, called Grammenohoria, who were subjected to the Turks and their tax policy.

– It is also a good idea to take their name from the main village of Agrafa, nestled in the heart of these inaccessible mountains, between the peaks of Niala, Kamaria and Swinou and is not easily recognizable until one arrives in its first houses. A village is lost, “unwritten”.

– The last and most convincing version according to the Byzantine chronologist Michael Psellos (1018-1078 AD), says that the name was given to the region many centuries before the Turks. In particular, at the time of Iconoclasm, the emperor of Byzantium Konstantinos Kopronymos (741-77 AD) sent his people across the empire to see if his orders to remove the icons from the churches were executed. Indeed, in the plains of Thessaly the images had been removed from the temples. But when his envoys arrived in the mountain area they were surprised to see that the pictures were in their place. They then tried to persuade residents to comply with orders. But those, proud, disobedient and cruel, not only did not listen to them, but they killed them because they considered them to be ungodly and sacrosanct. When the incident in Constantinople was informed, the emperor ordered the emperor to erase this region from the maps of the empire. Thus, this mountainous area was called Agrafa

Historical data

Ancient times

In ancient times in the area of ​​Agrafa, Dolopes were established. Their capital was Ktemeni, which probably lived near the present village of the same name in the area of ​​Lake Smokovo. There are other views on the location that place it near the village of Fourna of Evritania or near the village of Rentina in the prefecture of Karditsa. For Delopes, which was a highland breeding population, there are few reports. They participated in Delphi Amphictyonia where they were represented with two votes. From the 3rd century BC were under the control of the Aetolians. According to Pausanias, Dolopes had disappeared as a people in the 2nd century AD.

Medieval period

At the beginning of the Middle Ages the population of the region was thinning. The population gap covered a very small settlement of Slavs who were mixed and fully assimilated with the local Greek population. The first groups appear to have settled in the 6th century when they invaded Greece by accompanying the Avars and then in the 8th century AD, during a period of widespread Slav infiltration in Greece. The presence of the Slavs testifies to several Slavic place names found in the region with the characteristic endings – itsa, – ovo.

During the Second Bulgarian Empire, at the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century, the Vlachians were settled in the region of Thessaly. The establishment of the Vlachs in Agrafa was limited as few Vlach local place names meet. Later, during the Ottoman domination, there was a settlement of Sarakatsans in the area.

During the Byzantine period it seems that the region acquired its present name. According to chronicler Michael Psellos, the area was named after the iconoclasm, when the emperor of Byzantium was the iconostasis Konstantinos E. The inhabitants of the region refused to apply the decree to remove the icons from the temples and kill the Emperor’s emperors. Then Constantine exasperated the region from the maps of the Empire.

According to a widespread oral tradition, the region acquired its name because of the authorities’ inability to collect taxes, so they deleted the region from the tax lists.

The first centuries of Ottoman domination

The Agrafa acne during the Ottoman domination. The Ottomans considered it unprofitable to install a guard for the military control of the area, considering it preferable to give the region autonomy status and to receive a steady tax. So they advanced in 1525 AD. at the signing of the Tamas Treaty granting autonomy to the Agrafa area, in return for the residents’ obligation to pay annual tax of 50,000 euros. The headquarters of the Autonomous Region of Agrafa, which stretched from the boundaries of the plain of Karditsa to the river Acheloos, was designated Neochori. The years that followed the area grew economically, as reflected in the great churches and monasteries that were built during this period. Particularly important was the art of hagiography with the local hagiographers to create remarkable hagiography workshops. [4] Because of the greater freedom and economic development that prevailed, Agrafa attracted intellectuals such as Evgenios Giannoulis, Aetolos, who founded the Greek School of Grammar and Religious Studies.

At the same time, the region gathered many fugitives who were facing problems with the Ottoman authorities, who together with local leaders of the thieves formed bodies of thieves. Certain chieftains of these bodies were entrusted by the Turks with the security of the area. These groups formed the bodies of the armatols. The most important thief of Agrafa was Katsantonis who acted in the period 1802-1808. For his arrest, Ali Pasha of Ioannina organized many businesses that failed for several years. Eventually he was arrested in 1808 while he was severely ill and was transferred to Ioannina where he was killed. From Archanes came the chief of the Greek Revolution of 1821 Georgios Karaiskakis. He took up the Agrafa armatlici until 1824 and was then appointed commander of Roumeli until his death in 1827.

19th century

With the formation of the Greek state and the formation of the Greek border on the line of Amvrakikos – Pagasitikos with the Treaty of London of 1832, the historical unity of Agrafa was broken up as part of them joined the newly established Greek state (Evritanika Agrafa) while another remained under Ottoman control (Thessalian Agrafa).

The outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854 was an important opportunity for regions that had remained outside the Greek border to rebel and succeed in uniting with Greece. Soon, in the rebellious regions, guerrilla gangs rushed out of Greece to help the rebels, and the main operations took place in Epirus and Thessaly. Finally, with the intervention of the British and the French, who imposed a naval blockade in Greece, forced her to recall the bodies that had been sent to the Turkish-occupied areas, and soon the Turks suspended the revolution and proceeded to the looting and destruction of villages in these areas.

In 1877, in the wake of the outbreak of the new Russo-Turkish war, new turmoil arose in the Turkish-occupied areas near the Greek border. The Greek government of the time decided to deploy a troop in Thessaly, but shortly thereafter the capitulation and expiration of the Russo-Turkish war took place. The Greek army withdrew from the region and the Turkish troops broke down the villages of Thessalian Agrafa. At the Berlin Congress, it was finally decided to concede Thessaly to Greece, which was finalized in 1881 with the Istanbul Agreement between Greece and the Ottoman Empire. The whole area of ​​Agrafa has now been included in Greek territory.

In the Greek-Turkish war of 1897, troops of the Turks conquered Thessaly and remained in the area until the beginning of 1898, when a compromise between the two sides took place. During the period of occupation in the region, they were occupied by bodies of the Rebellion, resulting in many villages in the region being severely damaged by the Germans. After the end of the war, the Agrafa population declined due to the immigration of residents to abroad or to large urban centers in Greece.

20th century

The area of ​​Agrafa was one of the most important focal points of the National Resistance. ELAS was activated in the region, with the action of which, Agrafa was among the first free areas of Greece. On August 9, 1943, a Neptropole-controlled airport operated a retreat-controlled airport to ensure that the Allied forces were replenished by the Allied forces. The National Liberation Political Committee, formed for the administration of the liberated areas, was housed in Vinini, south of Agrafa.

In the late 1950s, the artificial lake Tavropou or Lake Plastira was created in Thessalian Agrafa, later renamed in honor of its instigator, general Nikolaos Plastiras, who came from the region. The lake has provided opportunities for tourism development in the lakeside villages since the 1990s, helping to keep the population in the region. Evritanica Agrafa remained more isolated and only in recent years has been created asphalt road network in the area allowing the area to come out of isolation.

Geography

Agrafa are the southern peaks of Pindos, forming a petal around the valley of the Agrafioti River, with an exit to Evritania and the Kremasta dam. They consist of rugged peaks, impressive ravines, deserted plateaus. It’s a rough, inaccessible place in the winter months. Their area exceeds 2,500 square kilometers. A recent UNESCO survey has ranked the area among the world’s five cleanest in terms of the environment.
Dozens of wild peaks of southern Pindos with a height of over 2000 m and between the three legendary rivers: Acheloos, Agrafiotis and Tavropos (Megdovas).

Northern Agrafa is at the top of the horseshoe and includes the mountains Karavoula (1862 m), Karavas or Schichokaravos (2184 m), Voutsikaki or Gavel (2154 m) and the peaks of Kazarma or Zygourolivado (1977) and Templa (1810 m.) They are delimited by the north with the Portaikos river and Mount Chatzi and are separated from the Western Agrafa with Acheloos and the mountain Kokkinolakos (1750 m). Their eastern limit is the plain of Trikala and the lake of Megdow

The Eastern Agrafa consists of the mountains Bourlero or Galatas (2017 m), Cup (2016 m) Five Towers (2003 m.) Svani or Marathia (2039 m), Papadimitri (1930 m) (1508 m), the cauldron (1753 m) with a north-south arrangement and the lower Bulgarians (1654 m), Itamos (1490 m) and Kaprovouni (1445 m) east end to the Megdow lake and are separated by Velouchi with the River Taurus. To the west, they reach Agrafioti and to the south they reach the lake of Kremasti.

The Western Agrafa consists of the mountains Liakoura (2043m), Fteri or Pyramid (2126m), Delindimi (2163m) and Galatsi or Silver Mountain (1894m).

In the South, Velouchi or Tymfistos stands majestically at 2135m.

The region is geographically located in the zone Olonos – Pindos. The rocks that dominate are limestone and flysch, a particularly fragile material combined with steep slopes and many waters are the cause of frequent landslides.

Three are the main rivers, which cross Agrafa, Agrafiotis, Megdovas (Tavropos) and Acheloos and three are the lakes, apart from the well-known artificial lake Plastira is also the small lake of Stephaniada created by landslide and the newly constructed artificial lake Smokovo.

Flora fauna

The vegetation of Agrafa consists mainly of thick forests of Macedonian fir (Abies borisii-regis). Still there are black, beech, chestnut and many oak forests. Other common trees of the mountain are maples, sorbs, mountaineering, alder and willow trees. Subalpine and alpine dominate large grasslands with dozens of rare species. The area has not been studied enough in terms of flora, but it is estimated that over 1,200 species of plants sprout here.

In Agrafa there are still many rare species of birdlife. In the area there are still a few vultures, while occasional is the presence of the asproper. From birds of prey, on the mountain live golden eagles, jellyfish, petritians, creepers, geranines, sprigs, rockers and boulders. The bird supplemented by species such as rare partridges, blue rock thrush, rock thrush, Coughs, black woodpecker, lefkonotous woodpeckers, Western Rock Nuthatch, crossbill snow kitrinokaliakoudes, red-backed shrike, gydovyzachtres, vounotsichlona, ​​Coal Tit, Eurasian Blue Tit, Tit, pyrrovasiliskous, chionospinous, chionostrouthous, green woodpeckers, chewing gums, antlers, chrysanthemums, tortoises, spikes.

The herpetophan include species such as alpine triton, salamandra, yellow-grass, grasshopper, toad, greenfish, treefish, turtle, green grass, lizard, marshmallow, waterfowl, backyard, saithe and common viper, while the rare vines of the meadows can not be ruled out on the mountain.

Mammals include the occasional presence of the bear and the wolf, while the forests still live deer and wild cats. However, Agraphian mammal species are wild boar, ferrets, ferrets, asbestos, foxes, hares, marsh, raccoons, squirrels and various species of rodents and bats.

In the crystal clear waters of the rivers swim trout, carp, brilan, bass and otter.

Finally, near the Karavas peak there is a narrow, endemic grasshopper species, Oropodisma karavica

The Monasteries

Most were made in the second half of the 16th century by the influence of the Meteora monasteries and followed by a simplified version of the Athonite press. The most important of these are: Panagia Spilias, Panagia Pelekiti, Rentina, Zoodochos Pigi and Gennesios Theotokou in Anthiro, Agios Georgios in Mavrommati, Transfiguration of the Savior in Bragiana, Panagia Tatarna and Korona.

The bridges

Made mainly by Epirus masons, bridges the banks of the rapids and torrents. Today, the bridges of Trizolos (Karyas) and Lysakovitikos (Petroto) in Argithea, the Alulaus and Templa bridges in Acheloos, the Bragianas in Agrafioti, the Vianiani and the Domianes in Tavropos and the half-sunken Manolis bridge in Granitsiotis are still stunning. Most notably all the Korakos bridge whose pedestal only remained near the dam of Sykia.

People

Inside the Agrafa horseshoe there is a multitude of villages that are grouped in wider areas: Argithea, Mezdova valley, Smokovo. These are 125 villages with few inhabitants, as the region is barren and poor, mainly based on livestock farming. So people are forced to look elsewhere for their luck. Previously in the Danubian hegemonies, later in America, today in the major urban centers of the country. Agrafa is traditionally considered the cradle of Sarakatsanaia, an ancient Greek nomadic sex, who spent the summer months in the mountains of the area, while in the winter he stayed in the plains of Thessaly, Viotia and Aitoloakarnania.