The duo of villages belongs to the county of Ioannina and the municipality of North Tzoumerka in Epirus region (Northwestern Greece). Perched on the west of Pindos mountain range, poised between Lakmos (or Peristeri) ridge Syrrako and Kalarrites facing the Athamanian steep hills, or widely known as Tzoumerka.
Syrrako and Kalarrites are situated at an altitude of approximately 1,160 meters, set abreast and placed over the sheer gorge of Kalarritikos (also known as Chrusia, a stream that flows in the river of Arachthos), which actually separates the two villages from each other.
Syrrako and Kalarrites seem be close enough, however driving uphill and downhill around the mountain, takes almost an hour, approximately 25 kilometers. Also, the two villages are accessible on foot, and thus you can traverse the historical path that crosses the stream bank of Chrusia (Kalarritikos river) and lasts approximately one hour.
Moreover, Syrrako and Kalarrites are car-free villages. Blissfully free of motorcycles the area remains endearingly time-wraped, as all type of vehicles must be left in the parking lot aka the entrance of each village. In Syrrako, goods are being transported via small crawler handling machines, whereas in Kalarrites donkeys are hauled to transport any type of cargo led by one of the last of the Greek muleteers.
In the region holding a crook is a necessity and not only folklore landmark.
This duo of Vlach villages are acknowledged for the big stone mansions with the arched exterior entrances and the stack of shale slabs on top, the fountains and bridges as well as the stone cobblestone steeping streets.
Designated traditional villages of Tzoumerka since 1978, Syrrako and Kalarrites are outstanding examples of the well-preserved architecture of Epirus in the southern hemisphere of the prefecture of Ioannina
(mostly found in the settlements of Zagorochoria).
Most of the elders speak, Vlachika (Aromanian language) an unwritten dialect of Latin origin, as well as Greek.
Some historians theorize that the Vlachs are descendants of Roman troops, who were stationed in the area. Also, Vlachika has been characterized an endangered ancient oral language that survived throughout centuries.
Karrrites since the 18th century served as silversmithing hub for the Balkans, whilst Syrrako was known for its dressmakers, who were mainly processing wool and producing fabrics. In reality, this was also the place where naval jackets made of goat yarn (tragomallo) and raincoats were created.
The family of the world’s largest luxury-goods company, Bulgari, is humbly hailing from the region, where they particularly opened a small shop back in 1819, the springboard of the iconic brand at this day.
These Epirus mavericks of commerce also managed to supply 25,000 waterproof capes to Army of Naples.
The ancient art of silversmithing was developed in Kalarrites. The production was divided into two facets, the ecclesiastical ornaments and relics, and the secular objects.
However, the nomads of Syrrako and Kalarrites they mainly dealt with animal husbandry. On May, local flocks are climbing the grazing lands at some of the steeper sections of the mountain to move down to the safety of their village plains and back into civilization just around mid October. Throughout the endless journey that is winter pasture, peasant are moving alongside their families and transporting their whole household as well as timber and hay, using donkeys and mules.
The effects of high altitude differences (from 144 meters to 2,429 meters), the abudance of water, and the rich vegetation and wildlife, have created an ecosystem of great value. The National Park of Tzoumerka (Peristeri and Arachthos gorge) was established in 2009 in order to protect this pristine land and waterscape. Also, there are more parts in the region that belong to the network of NATURA 2000.
Characteristically found in the region, butsiko, is a small native breed of sheep with a protected designation and sponsored by the European Union. Regarded as an upgrading of the typical Vlach sheep, butsiko belongs to a very thrifty breed with thin and short limbs. Nowadays, approximately 15.000 sheep and goats graze in the mountains of Tzoumerka.
The list of birds recorded in the region is: hornbills, partridges, woodcocks, grouses, petrochelidons, goldfinch, quails, thrushes, booted eagles, hawks, wagtails, bearded vultures, and many others.
The mammals that reside here are: otters, wolves, bears, wild cats, wild goats, foxes, badgers and hares.
The reptiles recorded in the area are the threatened species of the meadow viper, as well as the European viper, salamander and others.
One of the ten in total fish species residing in the region is the trout from Kalarrytes living in the river of Kalarritikos.
There is a tourist center in Pramanta, in which the visitor can grab a map, get to know more about the flora and fauna of the region and get some info of the area or any related events.
Apart from Syrrako and Kalarrites
other settlements belonging to the municipality of North Tzoumerka are: the largest hamlet of all as well as the seat of the borough, Pramanta, which serves as the “capital” of the villages.