#219 Red Church (Vourgareli)

Location

It is located in the settlement of Palaiochori, 3km south of Vourgareli.

Construction Data

The Red Church or Panagia Vellas is an excellent example of Byzantine church architecture

It is a two-column inscribed cross-in-square church with just one three-sided apse and a tripartite narthex.

Historical Data

One of the most important monuments created during the 13th century in Epirus by the dynasty of Komninos-Doukas.

The church is dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and celebrates on September 8. It was built in 1281 with sponsorship of Theodoros Tsimiskis, a protostrator of the Byzantine court.

The church contains frescoes dating back to 1295, however many of them have suffered serious damages. Besides saints, these frescoes also depict the founders of the church, such as Theodoros Tsimiskis and his wife Maria, his brother John and his wife Anna.

Regarding the name of the church the academic Anastasios Orlandos informs us that it comes from the red color of the bricks, decorating the exterior walls of the monument. The "Panagia Vellas" originated probably because of its relevance with the diocese or the monastery of Vella, a small town in ancient Fotiki.

Whereas, traditionally is also called "vasilomonastiro", possibly because it consituted once the katholikon (main church) 'of a royal monastery which became a glebe in the monastery of Vella when it was abandoned, from which the name is derived. " (http://www.vourgarelinet.gr/axioth/kokek.htm)

Additional information of historical, cultural and tourism interest

The "proud Tzoumerka" as mentions characteristically the folk music tradition, generously offer visitors wealth of pictures and colors. They usually are haracterized by the changes in the landscape and the towering snow-capped mountains. They have unspoilt natural environment and rich cultural tradition, a variety of historical monuments (archaeological sites, oracles) and museums. The traditional villages, the manners and customs, the hospitality, the traditional music and gastronomy, meet the requirements of even the most demanding visitor. The region of Central Tzoumerka has common historical, social, economic and cultural characteristics, but each village gives its own touch, its own distinctive feature, thus completing the fantastic mosaic called Tzoumerka.

In the villages one can find antiquities (remains of city walls, tombs etc.), Byzantine and post-Byzantine monuments (monasteries, churches), stone bridges (Bridge of Plaka, Bridge in Chatzigiannaiika (Athamanio), Neraidogefyro (in Voulgareli) etc, houses (ie. the Koulies in Theodoriana) and pre-industrial buildings, eg. Watermill (property of Kafkas) in the settlement of Potamia, Watermill - Nerotrivi - Mantania in Agnanta etc. From the monasteries-churches indicative are mentioned the following: The Red Church, the Church of Faneromeni, the Ascension Church and the Church of Panagia in Agnanta, the Church of Saint Michael and Gabriel in Mikrospilia, Church of St. John in Vatatsi settlement, while there are many more remarkable churches-monasteries to visit.



Regarding the museum collections, there are in Central Tzoumerka the Agricultural Museum in Perama (in Distrato), the "Folk Art and Life Museum", life work of Pantelis Karalis (in Kipseli), the stone built Folklore Museum (former school building) and a photography exhibition in Tetrakomo.

Tzoumerka, besides the historical and cultural interest, have gained in recent years a loyal tourism audience, visiting the area and the multitude of sports, outdoor activities offered. Hiking, Cycling trails, rafting and Kayak (in Arachthos and in the artificial lake Pournari, respectively), riding (next to Arachtos or Voulgareli) are just some of the activities in which lovers of alternative tourism can indulge.



Also, of the most adventurous mountain activities is certainly paragliding, parapente, while there is also a Moto-Cross track in Filothei of Arta, where sometimes competitions are organized.

Finally, the area of Tzoumerka has many shops, restaurants, cafes, hotels and rooms to let, traditional market, shops selling local products and handicrafts, thereby satisfying the requirements of the most demanding visitor.