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Administrative Region : Epirus
Regional unit : Ioannina

Vrysochori (Greek: Βρυσοχώρι, Aromanian: Leshinitsa, Leshnitsa) is one of the Zagori villages (Zagorohoria), in the Ioannina Prefecture, Greece. Vrysochori is in the Tymfi municipality, and is about 75 km (50 mi) from Ioannina.

Location and climate

The elevation of Vrysochori is 1157 m (3799 ft) above sea-level. It is located at 39°59′57″N 20°53′05″ECoordinates: 39°59′57″N 20°53′05″E.[1] Vrisohori is surrounded by conifer forests and rivers at the foothills of Gamila of the Tymphis mountain range, and borders the Vikos–Aoös National Park. Vrisochori is the 3rd largest village of Zagori Villages in terms of land size. The village is located in between the second and the fifth highest peaks of Greece, just 5 km away from the Aoos River. It is the only area of Greece where snowbanks stand throughout every season of the year. The forest area which belongs to the village is the 2nd biggest in Zagori (after Laista's one) and local forest maps are required for trekkers not to be lost in them, as wild pigs and bears are indigenous to the area. Because of the many rivers which cross these mountains and the village, the village has its own source of water, which the central Zagori now also uses. The secondary mountain route O3 (connecting to the main E3) passes through the village.

Vrysochori was founded in 1295. It was called Liasintsa (or Lesinitsa), until 1927, when it was renamed to Vrysochorion. The church of St. Charalambos in the village square dates back to 1814. The town suffered severe damage in both World War II and the Greek Civil War, and lost a large portion of its population during the 1940s as a result. The Germans burnt much of the settlement in 1943.

Prior to World War II Vrysochorians used to migrate to Thessaly, Thrace and Macedonia. Outside Greece, they migrated to the U.S.[2]

In the early 20th century, its population was more than 1600. The residents of the area speak a Latin dialect which is spoken in various areas of the Balkan peninsula (Vlach dialect).
Local main events — Panigyri

1. 26–28 July, every year, there is a three (3) day continuous local traditional feast(during the feast days of Saints Pandelis and Paraskevi), one of the very few that has remained untouched by time in Greece. In the morning, villagers attend church services at the chapel of Saint Paraskevi, situated on the outskirts of the village. Following the liturgy and artoplasia (blessing of bread), elders from the village dance in the church yard. Then community members visit each other's homes, where they are treated to tsipouro (traditional alcoholic drink) and loukoumia (sweets). The first two nights there is dancing in the main square (plateia) until morning and the third morning the feast moves to "Magoula", near the forest in the area "Balta" (beside the eternal ice and snowbanks)on the Timfi Sierra Mountain range. Families roast lambs on open spits and picnic under the shade of the trees. Everyone shares food and dancing until the afternoon. Everyone is invited to join in the feasting, especially visitors who do not have permanent stay in the village and those who have come back from far and wide. As is tradition, they are treated with care and given the time to lead the dancing.

2. There is a new feast which takes place on the first Saturday after the 15th of August, called "To panigyri tis pitas" ("pie feast"). The women of the village bake homemade pites ("pies")and bring them at night to the plateia for all to share. This feast celebrates the talents of the women in the village who maintain the skills and tradition of opening handmade phillo dough and filling it with cheeses, spinach, eggs, and/or zucchini, before carefully baking it until golden brown in wood ovens (although modern ovens are also used). In the evening, villagers and visitors gather in the plateia, where traditional Epirotika music and dancing entertains those young and old. The pites ("pies) are shared among all participants by the women who created them. This new tradition began in the early 1990s and has been a great success. It is the only "pie feast" in Zagori, and every year it attracts more and more participants.
Notable people

Euterpe Bouki-Dukakis, mother of Michael Dukakis, American Democratic politician, former Governor of Massachusetts, and the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988.[3]
Nikolas Ioannis Kassavetes, father of American actor/director John Cassavetes and grand-father of actor/director Nick Cassavetes.
Christos Athanasiadis, a businessman who offered his inheritance to the village

Local Club

Morfotikos and Oreivatikos syllogos Vrysohoriou (Educational & Mountaineering club of Vrysohori) ssues a newspaper four times a year which is the main way of communication among people who have their origin coming from Vrysohori and they are spread all around the world. Also, it organises the feasts and brings back every summer for reunions all Vrysochorites and helps the local authorities maintain the forests and the village.

^ World City Database
^ A.Kathareios (Inspector of the 1st educational region of Epirus) Report of Inspection of Zagorohoria in 1913
^ NY Times

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