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Distrato: Greece’s Magnificent Mountain Village That Keeps Growing

Distrato in Konitsa covered by snow
The village of Distrato in Konitsa, Greece. Photo credit: Labros Raptis/Municipality of Konitsa

Distrato is an exquisite mountainous village in Greece that has managed to remain unknown to the majority of travellers.

As we all know, Greece is dotted with small mountainous villages, however, most of them have been seeing a rapid decline in their population over the last several decades.

One bright exception to this norm is the village of Distrato in Epirus.

Distrato is a spectacularly enchanting settlement at the heart of Greece’s northwestern mainland.

It lies at an altitude of 1,000m (3,280ft) at the foothills of mount Smolikas and Vasilitsa, and it has approximately 300 permanent residents.

The Distrato church of Saint Nicholas
The church of Saint Nicholas in Distrato. Credit: Municipality of Konitsa

The ideal location of Distrato

During peak tourist seasons, both in Winter and in Summer, Distrato sees its population grow significantly due to alternative tourism.

Its ideal location between the popular ski resort of Vasilitsa and three urban centers makes it the ideal stop for those exploring the wilderness of Greece’s northern heartlands.

Administratively, Distrato belongs to the municipality of Konitsa in the regional Unit of Ioannina.

However, the settlement lies 54km away from the town of Konitsa, 61km from the Macedonian city of Grevena and 110km from the capital of Epirus, Ioannina.

The routes that connect the village with these cities remind us of the Alps in central Europe: Apline grasslands overlapping with beech and fir forests, and wild streams and rivers create a magical atmosphere of pure natural beauty.

The economy of Distrato

What makes this place even more interesting is that the residents of the village have willingly decided not to abandon their hometown, to find better jobs and life opportunities in big cities.

Most of them are occupied as professional fishermen who trade trout, one of the area’s most famous products.

Others are working in the logging industry, as the area is surrounded by rich and thick forests, while a smaller part of the population has found a professional role in the tourism industry, by maintaining hotels, hostels, cafes, and traditional tavernas.

Distrato has its own Primary School too, something that is rare nowadays for Greece’s remote mountainous villages.

This is a sign of steady population growth, as young couples choose to stay there, and establish their families in this remote yet exquisite region.

The History

Distrato has been inhabited for centuries. Tombs of Byzantine and Roman times have been found in the Kato Mahala district of the village.

Also, the locals are proud of their ancestors role in the nation’s struggle to gain its independence from the Ottoman Empire.

During the Revolution of 1821, several residents of the village fought in Messolonghi, while in 1878 others participated in the Russo-Turkish war, on the side of the Russians.

Unfortunately, the Nazi occupiers ruined the village twice, in 1943 and 1944, however, following the liberation of 1944, Distrato found its way back to its former glory.

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