The 15th of August is coming and always the feelings are mixed! What do i mean?? On the one hand it is a period that most people are on vacations, on the other hand, the thoughts that summer is about to end become more and more. In case you don’t go swimming in a beach, choose to go to the mountain! The 15th of August is celebrated with dozens of fests across the Greek countryside and there is no better choice than a trip to the beautiful village of Samarina! Away from the summer’s heat, up on the mountain and the clean air, Samarina calls you to an unforgettable fest!
52 Km from the city of Grevena, up on the slopes of Mount Smolikas, lies the famous village of Samarina. It is one of the biggest villages inhabited by Vlachs, with an important history in Greece. Through those years, Samarina was developed and formed a notably active society, with an intense presence across the region, the liberation struggle and sectors like the commerce, the small industries, the wool processing and the traditional arts. During the winter, only few people live in the village! However during summer, Samarina is full of people, as thousands go up to the village, meeting with each other after the winter.
Samarina of the Vlachs
Samarina is the famous and notable village of the Vlachs, and there is also a well known traditional song dedicated to the “Boys from Samarina”. The history of the Vlachs in great, as they had an intensive presence during the struggles of the Greek nation, by participating to the Greek war of intependence of 1821, the Messolongi siege, the Macedonian struggle and the World War 2. Many were the individuals that shined, like the neomartyr St. Demetrios from Samarina, Giannis Priftis, the “Boys from Samarina”, known from the siege in Messolongi, the known captain “Bear” and many more, all offering their own lives, most occasions, for their country. Its was sheep farming village and since the past years, people used to move their flock from the hot valley to the cooler mountains for the summer! When the weather was changing they were moving again back to the valleys to pass the winter.
Samarina’s nature on the mountain
The beautiful Samarina is built on the mountain range of Pindos, in the borders between the Greek regions of Epirus and Macedonia and its altitude is measured 1650m. it is considered to be the highest village not only in Greece but also throughout the Balkans! The nature that surrounds it is breathtaking. The rich vegetation and the green forests, that cover the mountains, are combined with the intense presence of the water, creating a lovely result. Pine trees, beech trees and boxes, rivers and waterfalls, all pull together a scenery that impresses the traveler and enchants the nature enthusiast. The beautiful Samarina is the base from where you can start many excursions up to the mountain, feeling the clean air. Excursion by car, like the one to the famous protected, national park of Valia Kalda, that is located near Samarina and worths a visit. Excursions on foot, climbing to the peaks of mount Smolikas on 2637m and others near the village, to the Prophet Elias’s chapel or to the known monasteries of st. Paraskevi and Savior.
Samarina of the holy Mother of God
The church of the Holy mother of God has a very important part to the people’s hearts and the history of the village. The “Megali Panagia” ( Megali = big ) as it is called to differentiate from the other smaller church of the village, bearing the same name, was built in 1812 and it is the main landmark. In the interior it is beautifully decorated with unique images of iconography, made by local artists, that are known for their details and their colors! The main wooden altarpiece is one of a kind, a piece representing the craftsmanship of that era! Furthermore the church is well known for one more distinctive feature! On the outside of the temple, on the top of the altar, a huge pine tree stands in time! The tree, that is more than 100 years old, grew on the stone ceiling, and its roots are in the big walls of the church. Thousands of people come every year to admire this exceptional sight and to take photos in front of the altar! At the church’s yard you can also find the old school of Samarina, which nowadays, without any students, is used by the cultural society.
On the 15th of August, Samarina is celebrating! For three days on the 15th-16th- 17th the Holy Mother of God is celebrated by thousands of people that visit the village. After the service on the 15th of August, every family meets in houses and yards, where people roast lamps over the charcoal, exactly as the do on Easter. The next day, a big dance takes place in the yard of the church, which is called “Tsiatsos” and which is a old traditional dance that lasts for centuries! Men and women divided, create two big concentric circles and dance slowly, as they sing the song of “Tsiatsos”. The men dance in the inner circle while the women in the outer. The eldre ones dance in the first row and at the end the youngsters! Tradition is alive in Samarina. The festivities and the traditional customs continue later in the central square of the village, the “Hani”, where dancing societies dance local dances. Every day is a huge fest, as musicians play music all day for the people who enjoy and dance.
Samarina with its amazing food
Whoever has visited Samarina, can talk about the tasteful food. The village is ideal for the food-lovers and the choices are a lot. Roasted meats are everywhere and the wine pours in their glasses. Roast lamp, ship, kokoretsi, kebab are just few of the choices for great food! The meat is of high quality, which is reasonable, considering that is coming from local breeders! Around the village’s square there are many tavern that since the afternoon, light up their skewers! An amazing smell of food fills the atmosphere and the appetite never ends! Make sure you go early enough to find a table! As i said more than 10000- 15000 people go to the festival!!
You can stay here:
You can eat here:
- Tavern “Samarina”
- Tavern “The old Smolikas”
- Tavern “The beautiful Samarina”
- Tavern “Uncle Mixalis”
- Tavern “Smolikas”
For entertainment go there:
- Bar “Mantzato”
Either you travel form many days, or just for one, be sure that Samarina will amaze you. Up there on 1650m, the rhythms of life are totally different. On the 15th of August enjoy the festival and dance kindly. Feel the fresh air, eat the tasteful meats, drink the cool water and become one with the lovely nature. A s you depart, be sure that he memories will stay alive, the the 15th of August will be special for you….