Villages carved out of stone

Taken from the land, carved, then placed back on it to form houses, fences, roads, seats: stone is what Zagori is made of.

It is not always easy to see the villages of Zagori from afar, unless the fireplaces are burning and the plumes of smoke catch your eye: that’s how well they blend with their rocky environment. Stone-built with local stone, perched on mountain slopes, caped with slab covered roofs, the Zagorian houses are an exercise in efficiency: really thick walls (60 - 70cm!), tall stone fences, thick, heavy doors and small windows help keep the winter elements, and bandits, outside. Shapes are basic, efficient. Basements keep supplies cool. Use of wood is minimal, unless there is lumber nearby. During the era of prosperity, at the end of the 18th century, houses get a small balcony on the first floor and some indoor decoration – mainly in the form of geometrically adorned ceilings (most houses you will see nowadays are from that era, as older ones were either destroyed or added upon).

Public and private space is strictly delimitated, both within houses and within each village: houses congregate around one central square, with all public buildings in it: the school, the church, the coffee house, the local authority’s seat. From the square, stone-paved streets lead to the various neighborhoods, then onwards to the fields and the next village. When two roads cross, stone-paved seats facilitate rest and interaction between the villagers.  And when a road, or stone-paved footpath reaches a river or brook, a stone bridge helps travellers cross it. Zagori is literally, carved out of stone!