Stone bridges of Zagori
Perched on mountaintops, the 46 villages of Zagori were connected with an intricate network of footpaths and “skalas” (stone-paved paths) that go up and down steep slopes and cross rivers, seasonal brooks and ravines. In this system, the stone bridges of Zagori – and the whole of Epirus for that matter – were instrumental in ensuring uninterrupted commutes throughout the year.
But that is not what they are known for: they are architectural and engineering feats, delicate yet sturdy, massive yet subtle, disappearing in the landscape, held together by their weight, built skillfully to last in the centuries to come. Featuring one, two, even three arches, they dance over rivers and canyons, ever graceful, ever robust.
Built by dexterous craftsmen, the famous travelling stonemasons of the Mastorohoria (the villages of the stone artisans just north of Zagori) they are usually known by the name of the benefactors who paid their construction. Check out the Konitsa Bridge, the biggest of the Balkans – it still dons the bell that was used to warn crossers of high winds making the crossing dangerous.
Or, head towards Kipoi village: Having served as the seat of local government at one point, many bridges were built around it to serve the village’s traffic. Among them, the three arched Plakidas (a.k.a. Kalogeriko) Bridge has become one of the iconic Zagori vistas, as has the impressive Noutsos Bridge nearby. But there are many more, equally beautiful: some in plain view from the road, others waiting for you along the hiking paths and rafting routes. So keep your eyes open: there might be one magnificent Zagori stone bridge just around the corner!