The Zagori area in Greece’s northwest has been nominated for UNESCO world cultural landscape status following a candidacy submitted by the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
This candidacy, which comes following coordinated efforts and cooperation between the relevant services of the ministry and Epirus region authorities, is the first to be made by Greece for this UNESCO category.
Specialists from numerous fields, including archaeologists, historians, foresters, biologists, environmentalists, architects, economists and ethnologists, coordinated their efforts for the candidacy.
The candidacy’s dossier highlights the outstanding cultural landscape of Zagori, featuring details on the region’s biodiversity, fauna and flora, rivers, the Vikos Gorge and unique geological formations.
The ministry’s candidacy also includes historical aspects, with emphasis on the 17th and 18th centuries, the region’s rich architectural heritage, in harmony with the natural environment, monuments from various periods, as well as the necessary information for responsible protection bodies.
Other details included in Greece’s candidacy include the area’s wealth of intangible cultural heritage, such as music, festivals and local traditions, as well as a management plan, its objective being to protect and highlight the area’s attributes.
Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni remarked: “The preparation of the dossier was long and complex. It required close collaboration with the Region of Epirus, with which we have always enjoyed good cooperation, as well as with a large number of experts from various fields. The participation of the local community in the effort to put together the dossier was particularly important as a cultural landscape candidacy is very different to a candidacy for a monument. It requires the involvement of the region’s citizens. We expect positive results from the evaluation of the candidacy. The inclusion of Zagori adds value to the region”.
Speaking to Travel.gr, Alexandros Kachrimanis, governor of the Epirus region, highlighted how significant the UNESCO world cultural landscape inclusion would be for Zagori and the Epirus region as a whole. “The Ministry of Culture has made a very serious effort, assisted by regional authorities. We eagerly await the outcome and believe it will be tremendously important for all, in terms of growth,” Kachrimanis remarked.
In comments offered to Travel.gr, Dimitris Ioannidis, architect and president of the Tsepelovo Cultural Society (Anastasios Tsouflis), highlighted: “Zagori’s UNESCO world cultural landscape catalogue candidacy represents a unique opportunity for our land. It is the first ever candidacy submitted by our country for this catalogue. If Zagori makes the grade, it will be one of 119 areas given this status in the entire world. However, this candidacy comes with obligations and commitments concerning the protection of buildings and the natural environment, requiring great attention. Any extensions of settlement boundaries, construction beyond town plans, unsupervised cattle breeding, poaching, development of new roads without planning, deviation from Zagori area regulations, and any other form of illegal activity, must be fully countered by local authorities if we want to achieve the candidacy’s objective and maintain it for good”.
Local entrepreneurs Xenofon and Giorgos Kontouris, who co-own and co-manage Apeiros Chora, an award-winning guesthouse, noted: “We hope that the Metropolis of Ioannina [Greek orthodox diocese] will also help and not insist on the development of a solar energy farm at the Ano Pedina plain, an integral part of the Vikos-Aoos National Park and the area nominated for UNESCO cultural heritage”.
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