Epirus, formally the Epirus Region , is a geographical and administrative region in northwestern Greece. It borders the regions of West Macedonia and Thessaly to the east, West Greece to the south, the Ionian Sea and the Ionian Islands to the west and the country of Albania to the north. The region has an area of about 9,200 km2 (3,600 sq mi). It is part of the wider historical region of Epirus, which overlaps modern Albania and Greece but mostly lies in modern Greek territory.
Greek Epirus, like the region as a whole, is rugged and mountainous.It comprises the land of the ancient Molossians and Thesprotians and a small part of the land of the Chaonians the greater part being in Southern Albania. It is largely made up of mountainous ridges, part of the Dinaric Alps. The region's highest spot is on Mount Smolikas, at an altitude of 2.637 metres above sea level. In the east, the Pindus Mountains that form the spine of mainland Greece separate Epirus from Macedonia and Thessaly. Most of Epirus lies on the windward side of the Pindus. The winds from the Ionian Sea offer the region more rainfall than any other part of Greece.
The Vikos-Aoos and Pindus National Parks are situated in the regional unit of Ioannina of the region. Both areas have imposing landscapes of dazzling beauty as well as a wide range of fauna and flora. The climate of Epirus is mainly alpine. The vegetation is made up mainly of coniferous species. The animal life is especially rich in this area and Epirus is divided into four regional units, which are further subdivided into municipalities. The regional units are: Thesprotia, Ioannina, Arta and Preveza.
Regional Unit of Ioannina. The city of Ioannina, next to the lake Pamvotis, is the capital of Epirus, northwestern Greece. Lake Pamvotis lies at the centre of a 480 metre-high basin in a picturesque mountain setting, with the Kyra Frosyni Island in its middle and the sprawling city of Ioannina on its western shores.
Natural beauty, historic and modern buildings come together at Ioannina, offering a vibrant and contemporary city comprising the most important commercial and cultural centre in Epirus and north-western Greece.
The Archaeological Museum of Ioannina exhibits finds from Epirus ranging from the Paleolithic period to Roman times. They include artefacts from the sacred area of what claimed to be the oldest-known oracle in ancient Greece in the Temple of Zeus at Dodona.
Byzantine finds can be seen at the 'little island' of Kyra Frosyni and monasteries with splendid frescoes, together with the legendary Ali Pasha's house - last refuge. The Byzantine museum at Ioannina situated in the medieval castle within the citadel, is also worth visiting. The tomb and the headquarters of Ali Pasha can also be found here. A walk along the lake shores and the castle walls, next to historical places and buildings conjures-up legends such as that of Kyra Frosyni. She was sentenced to drown in the lake after having caught the eye of Ali Pasha who desperately fell in love with her.
The regional unit of Arta is located north of the Ambracian Gulf. The main mountain ranges are the Athamanika in the northeast, the Pindus in the east, and Valtou in the southeast. Only one mountain road links Arta with the Pineios valley and Thessaly. There are low-lying agricultural plains in the west. Arta borders on the regional units of Preveza in the west, Ioannina to the north, Trikala in the east, Karditsa to the east and Aetolia-Acarnania to the south.
The main rivers are the Acheloos in the east, the Arachthos in the centre, and the Louros in the west. Most of the population lives in the west, in the Arachthos valley, south and east of Arta. The Athamanika and Valtou mountains are the least populated. The area around Arta was ceded at the Congress of Berlin to Greece in 1881 by the Ottoman Empire, along with Thessaly. A famous landmark of Arta is the Old Bridge over the Arachthos river.
Regional Unit of Thesprotia is one of the regional units of Greece and it is named after the Thesprotians, an ancient Greek tribe that inhabited the area in antiquity. It covers the NW part of Epirus region and its population consists of 46.000 inh.
Igoumenitsa, capital of Thesprotia, is the biggest harbor in NW Greece which constitutes the main naval gateway from Western Europe. Its role is upgraded with the new port and Egnatia highway making Igoumenitsa known as one of the major transport centers of Europe.
Thesprotia is a mountainous area shaped by the west mountain chain of Pindos, which gradually lowers towards the Ionian Sea. Among these sierras, small and oblong valleys open, crossed by the rivers of Kalamas & Acheron which outfall in the sea.
The particular geographic position of Thesprotia, its bas relief and safe natural moorage, drove the Mycenae settlers to found fortified settlements, from the 14th century BC. The history of the region is imprinted upon the ruins of cities, castles, monasteries and archaeological findings. In the 15th century, Thesprotia is occupied by the Ottomans and constant fight for liberation peaks with the brave resistance of the people of Souli.
Preveza is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the Epirus region. Its capital is the town of Preveza. The regional unit of Preveza is located northwest of the Ambracian Gulf. The Ionian Sea lies to the west. The terrain is mostly hilly. The mountains of Xerovouni are in the far northeast. Rivers include the Louros in the east, and Acheron in the north. Its climate is typically Mediterranean with hot dry summers and cool winters. Snow is not uncommon in winter at higher elevations.
Preveza was established as a prefecture in 1915. The area was first settled by the Greek tribe of the Thesprotians and subsequently formed part of the Kingdom of Epirus and later the Roman Empire. The Battle of Actium took place in the area in 31 BC, following which the city of Nicopolis ("city of victory") was built by Augustus. The area became part of the Byzantine Empire, and following the Fourth Crusade, split off along with the rest of Epirus to form the Despotate of Epirus. The area passed to Ottoman rule in the 14th century, which lasted until 1913. Following the Balkan Wars, the area was awarded to Greece in 1913, at which point the prefecture was created. The prefecture included the island of Lefkada, until the latter was split off in 1955 as a separate prefecture Lefkada.
The ruins of the ancient cities of Nicopolis and Cassope, and the Necromanteion lie in the prefecture.
Zalongo is a mountain village, known for its monastery.
Parga is a historic port town and a resort.