Metsovo Epirus, the aristocrat on the mountain, Hellas Greece.
This lively mountain town in Western Greece, with its diverse history, traditions and customs is a popular winter holiday destination
It’s another world 1,000m above sea level. The town of Metsovo perches on one of the most beautiful slopes of the Pindus Mountain range, the ‘crossroads’ of Epirus, Thessaly and Western Macedonia. Built like an amphitheatre, its tile roofs and wooden porches stretch out across the slope, grand mansions nestled in between beech trees and firs. The continuous humming of running water adds to the majestic atmosphere. This is an ideal destination for lovers of relaxing mountain holidays.
What to do in Metsovo
Home of the benefactors and living tradition
Metsovo has always been a buzzing town, with an economy based on livestock, trade and crafts. Metsovite travellers and traders became prosperous, particularly in the Danubian principalities and Russia, then gave back to their homeland by erecting public buildings, bridges, churches and schools. Metsovo, in essence a market town, became a cultural and commercial hub for merchants and traders from East and West. Of its benefactors, particularly noteworthy is the Tositsa Foundation, and Evangelos Averoff, who were the driving force for the economic boom and its influx of tourism in 1970.
Metsovo’s main square is one of the most famous attractions of mountainous Greece and thousands of visitors pass through it every year, stopping to take a picture next to the monument of two bears exchanging glances, while elderly Metsovites stand by, conversing in their local Vlach dialect.
More than 200 paintings and sculptures by the great Greek artists of the 19th and 20th century are exhibited here, the most significant cultural space in Epirus. Lytras, Gyzis, Volanakis, Parthenis, Hatzikiriakos-Gikas, Tsarouhis, Moralis, Fasianos, are just a few of the big names in the collection, housed in a spectacular building with three floors behind the town’s main square. This museum is well worth a visit during your trip to Epirus.
A peaceful lake
The high altitude of this artificial lake at the source of the Aoos River makes it the only one of its kind in Greece. In the winter the blue water sinks into the white landscape and in the summer it’s surrounded by the greenery of the dense riparian forest. The beech forest gives way to a forest of firs at the north of the lake, the boundary of the Pindus National Park and the renowned Valia- Kalda. The serene setting is relaxing, an idyllic alpine landscape.
Politses ski resort
It may be small, but it offers all the necessary facilities for amateur skiers. Metsovo’s ski resort is in Politses, at an altitude of 1,400m, and has five pistes and three lifts.
The famous cheese of Pindus
It’s called Metsovone and is a delicious traditional smoked cheese, one of the most popular in Greece. They say that it contains all the aromas of the Pindus Mountains. The secret is in the milk, sourced by the region’s farmers, whose animals roam freely in the surrounding valleys from spring until autumn.
Hidden gems of Metsovo
The Sequoia of Agios Nikolaos
The combination is one of a kind: a river, grove, fountain, huge sequoia, wooden bell tower and a stone-built monastery. Metsovo’s Agios Nikolaos was established in the Byzantine era and is one of the most important monasteries in the area.
They sew traditional Greek costumes by hand and engrave ornate wooden ceilings in homes and church altars. Metsovo’s artisans have preserved these rare traditional trades, which must never be lost.
Crystal-clear, pure water comes gushing out the some 25 stone ‘taps’ found around the area, the same water that is the source of life for so much of the stunning flora and fauna in the area. Sure to quench your thirst.