The Zagori region of Greece which includes small stone villages known as Zagorochoria was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List on Tuesday.
The announcement was made at the World Heritage Committee’s 45th session taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Zagori in Mt. Pindos, northwestern Greece is an awe-inspiring natural landscape with an incredibly well-preserved network of 46 villages, featuring national parks, a monastery, rivers and waterfalls.
The traditional stone-built villages of the remote and mountainous Zagori area, among the best-preserved traditional settlements in Greece, are situated in an area of exceptional natural beauty, including features such as the Vikos Gorge and Voidomatis River.
“It is the first time that a cultural area of Greece that comprises an outstanding example of our modern cultural heritage is listed,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said.
“All Greek listings so far are related to Ancient Greece or Byzantium,” she added.
The nomination for Zagori was brought forth by Greece’s Ministry of Culture in 2022 and it was the first candidacy of the country in this particular category.
UNESCO rewards the rare beauty of Zagori
The dossier included extensive reports on the biodiversity, fauna, and flora of the Zagori, and the unique natural environment there, featuring rivers, unique geological formations and Vikos Gorge.
Vikos Gorge, a wonder of the natural world in Greece, is known as the “Greek Grand Canyon” because of its dizzying cliffs and stunning heights.
Although in depth it does not rival the American Canyon, which is more than six thousand feet deep, Vikos Gorge is one of the most lovely and verdant ravines in the country, with a depth exceeding 490 meters (1,500 feet).
Settled at an altitude of 1,060m and a national monument, Monodendri is one of Zagori’s most picturesque villages. It hosts some beautiful two-storey mansions and narrow streets that pass the village’s stone courtyards. The Monastery of St. Paraskevi can be admired from afar and a rocky trail that starts at the central square will lead you to Vikos Gorge.
In its listing description of the Mt. Pindos villages, UNESCO says, that they are located in a remote rural landscape in northwestern Greece, small stone villages known as Zagorochoria extend along the western slopes of the northern part of the Pindus mountain range.
“These traditional villages, typically organized around a central square containing a plane tree and surrounded by sacred forests maintained by local communities, showcase a traditional architecture adapted to the mountain topography.
“A network of stone-arched bridges, stone cobbled paths, and stone staircases linking the villages formed a system that served as a political and social unit connecting the communities of the Voïdomatis River basin,” UNESCO says.
According to UNESCO, cultural landscapes are the combined works of nature and humankind, and they express a long and intimate relationship between people and their natural environment.