(Redirected from Lunxhëri)

Lunxhëri (Albanian: Lunxhëri; Greek: Λιούντζη) is a region in the Gjirokastër County, Albania. It is an ethnographic region along with neighboring regions such as Kurvelesh, Zagoria, Dropull. It is in the periphery of a wider ethnographic region known as Labëria,[1] though its population is said to be non-Lab.[2] Many of its native inhabitants prefer for Lunxhëria to be identified instead as Tosk, as are neighboring regions to the east such as Dangëllia and Kolonja, rather than Lab; some researchers instead prefer to view Lunxhëria as a "transitory region" that is linguistically part of Labëria (using the Vjosa river as the boundary) but culturally part of Toskëria (using the Drino as the boundary).[3] Lunxhëria is predominantly inhabited by Albanians, but also has Greek and Aromanian minorities.[4][5][6]


Apart from the Lunxhëri municipality, Lunxhëri traditionally incorporates a wider region that extends from Hormovë west, Gryka e Suhës south, the crest of Mount Lunxhëri east, and the valley of the Drino west. It includes the villages of Lunxhëri municipality, Odrie municipality, Antigonë municipality, Selckë from the Pogon municipality, Labovë e Kryqit which administratively belongs to Libohovë municipality, and villages of Lekël and Hormovë which administratively belong to Tepelenë District.[7][8] The region has some rivers and streams: Përroi i Dhoksatit, Perroi i Mingulit, Përroi i Qestoratit, and the river of Nimica.


Ancient and medieval periodEdit

A number of archeological sites in the region are located next to the modern villages of Këllez, Dhoksat, Erind as well the ancient Greek city[9] of Antigonia, today a National Park.[10] Ancient ruins near Erind appear to be related to the ancient settlements of "Hekatopedion", "Ongolion" and "Eliaion".[11]

In 1321 a decree issued by the Byzantine Emperor recognized the special status of the village of Soucha (today Suhë) is mentioned while its Aromanian (Vlach) population is exempted from military service.[12]

Ottoman periodEdit

In 1571 a short lived rebellion broke out under Emmanuel Mormoris and the local population was in favour of the movement, nevertheless Ottoman control was restored that same year.[13]

At 1630-1653 the Aromanian inhabitants of Saraqinisht were able to contribute to the foundation of several Orthodox monuments such as the churches of Saint Nicholas, Prophet Elija and the nearby monastery of Theotokos of Spilaio.[14]

During the era of conversions to Islam in the 18th century, Christian Albanian speaking areas such as the region of Lunxhëri strongly resisted those efforts.[15]

In the early 19th century Austrian, British and French travelers coming from Ioannina to Lunxhëria felt that they were entering in another country that differed from adjacent Greek regions in local customs and way of life while noting that the region was inhabited by Albanian-speaking Orthodox Christians.[16]

Modern periodEdit

The area has been characterized by frequent immigration during the 19th and 20th centuries. Members of the local diaspora became notable politicians, merchants, doctors, benefactors, scholars, giving immense contributions to the history of Albania and Greece. Although most of the locals that migrated to other regions declared themselves as Greeks, at the same time, the majority of the population in the end of the 19th century spoke Albanian.[17] In the same context, people like Koto Hoxhi and Pandeli Sotiri were pro-Albanian and part of the elite of Rilindas,[17] while Christakis Zografos, Evangelos Zappas and especially Georgios Zografos (head of the Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus), supported the Greek national ideas. However, the majority of the locals were between this two extreme points.[18]

After Lunxhëria's incorporation into the Albanian state and the departure or marginalization of many of the strongest pro-Greek ("filogrek") families, a strong Albanian national feeling paired with a strong regional identity took hold. The French anthropologist Gilles De Rapper found that Lunxhots express their pride to be Albanian by asserting that they are the truest Albanians of the area, as opposed to on one hand to members of the Greek and Aromanian ethnic minorities who are of non-Albanian ethnicity and suspicious loyalties, and on the other to the ethnically Albanian Muslim migrants from Kurvelesh, who are asserted to have abandoned their Orthodox faith and therefore become "Turks", as opposed to the Albanian Orthodox who are said to have better preserved their Albanian culture.[19] Lunxhëria villages of the interwar period were small and compact such as Saraqinisht and Stegopull containing some 50 houses each while the people of the region were all Albanian Orthodox Christians except in Erind which was inhabited by both Muslims and Christians.[20] British archaeologist Clarke visited in 1924 and noted that in Saraqinisht and Labove there was a certain amount of pro-Greek feeling.[21] During the interwar period and World War I many families both of pro-Albanian and pro-Greek left the area, with the pro-Albanian families being forced to leave at certain times by powerful pro-Greek families.[22] An Aromanian minority settled in the region as part of the resettlement policies of the communist regime (1945-1991).[17] During World War II and the developments of the Greco-Italian War (1940-1941) the region came under the control of the advancing Greek army, who were welcomed in the houses of the local population.[23]

State policies during the during the People's Republic of Albania also created a buffer zone between Lunxhëria and the nearby recognized Greek minority zone of Dropull with the settlement of Albanian Muslim communities in fear of Hellenization of Lunxhëria.[24]


Many families have emigrated after 1990, leading to a decrease in population.[25][26] The people of Lunxhëria mainly intermarried among themselves,[20] however during the communist era instances of marriage alliances, encouraged by the then regime, occurred with nearby Greek villagers around Gjirokastër to access better life opportunities.[17] Orthodox Albanians in the area do not marry Aromanians.[27][17]

  • the Lunxhots, who call themselves "ethnic Lunxhots" or "autoktonë" and are called "villagers" (fshatarë) by others
  • the Aromanian settlers, who call themselves çoban or Greek-Vlachs, and are considered as newcomers (të ardhur) by the Lunxhots,[28] after World War II. Despite being officially the same religion as the Orthodox Albanian autochthones of Lunxhëria, the native Albanians of Lunxhëria sometimes refer to them as being of a different fe (religion) and are reluctant to marry, or to let their children marry, Aromanians.[27] Almost all of them come ultimately in Ottoman times from the village of Kefalovrisso (known as Mexhidë in Albanian), now located in Northwest Greece. In modern times, Aromanians were the first group in Lunxhëria to emigrate to Greece.[29]
  • the Muslim-background Albanian settlers from Labëria region (beside Erind who are locals), settling in throughout all 20th century, called Labs by the locals.

The census of 2011 counted for Lunxhëri municipality 1941 inhabitants of whom 58.01% declared Albanians, 3,55% Greeks and 2,42% Aromanians. The same census for Odrie (that belongs to the wider Lunxhery region) counted 433 inhabitants of whom 51,73% Albanians, 31.41% Aromanians, 9,70% Greeks. The rest of the population did not declare any ethnicity while the procedure was affected by boycott by the Greek minority.[30]


The population is of Orthodox religion majority, with Lab families being a Muslim minority.[8] The so-called "autoktonë" families are completely Orthodox, beside Erind which is mostly Muslim.

Orthodox church in Labova e Kryqit

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ De Rapper, Gilles. "Better than Muslims, not as good as Greeks". page 6: "Lunxhëri is thus an ‘ethnographic region (krahinë etnografike) surrounded by others, namely Zagori, Pogon, Dropull and Kurvelesh, and a part of the larger ethno-linguistic unit called Labëri."
  2. ^ De Rapper, 2008, p. 5: " Its population, however, is said to be ‘non-Lab’... "
  3. ^ Pistric, Eckehard and Dalipaj, Gerda. "Celebrating the Imagined Village: Ways of Organizing and Commenting Local Soundscapes and Social Patterns in South Albanian Feasts". Pages 163-165, 185
  4. ^ "Statistical Atlas of Albania". INSTAT. 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Bespyatov, Tim. "Ethnic composition, all communes: 2011 census [Albania]".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Ethnic composition: 2011 census: "Delvine ..."Note: 1) The census was boycotted by significant number of Greeks."
  7. ^ Malo, Foto, Emra vendesh në krahinën e Lunxhërisë (Toponyms in Lunxhëri region) (in Albanian), Tribuna, archived from the original on 2014-04-30, retrieved 2013-08-29
  8. ^ a b King, Russell; Mai, Nicola; Schwandner-Sievers, Stephanie (February 1, 2005). The New Albanian Migration. Sussex Academic Press. p. 180. ISBN 978-1903900789.
  9. ^ Winnifrith, Tom, ed. (1992). Perspectives on Albania. Basingstoke, Hampshire [u.a.]: Macmillan. p. 37. ISBN 978-0333512821.
  10. ^ Antigonea Archaeological Park website
  11. ^ Konstantinos., Giakoumis (2002). "The monasteries of Jorgucat and Vanishte in Dropull and of Spelaio in Lunxheri as monuments and institutions during the Ottoman period in Albania (16th-19th centuries)": 83. Retrieved 8 July 2018. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ Nicol, Donald M. (1984). The Despotate of Epiros 1267-1479: A Contribution to the History of Greece in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. p. 88. ISBN 9780521261906. The document ends with the matter of a village called Soucha... were exempt from military service.
  13. ^ Konstantinos., Giakoumis (2002). "The monasteries of Jorgucat and Vanishte in Dropull and of Spelaio in Lunxheri as monuments and institutions during the Ottoman period in Albania (16th-19th centuries)": 21. Retrieved 8 July 2018. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ Γιακουμής, Κωνσταντίνος Γ (23 November 2011). "Κριτική έκδοση επιγραφών συνεργείων από το Λινοτόπι στις περιφέρειες της ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας της Αλβανίας". Δελτίον της Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας (in Greek). 21: 249–266. doi:10.12681/dchae.563. ISSN 2241-2190. Φαίνεται ότι οι βλαχόφωνοι κάτοικοι του χωριού...άλλων εκκλησιών
  15. ^ Gerogiorgi, Sofia (2002). "Επιγραφικές μαρτυρίες σε λειψανοθήκη από τη Βόρεια Ήπειρο". Δελτίον της Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας. 23: 79. "Ιδιαίτερη εντύπωση προκαλεί η ισχυρή αντίσταση που προέβαλαν ορισμένες περιοχές στο έντονο κύμα εξισλαμισμών του 18ου αιώνα, όπως οι περιοχές της Ζαγοριάς (όπου υπάγεται η Κόνσκα και η Σέπερη), της Ρίζας (όπου υπάγεται το Χόρμοβο και η Πρεμετή) και της Λιντζουριάς, μολονότι κατοικούνταν από αλβανόφωνους χριστιανούς."
  16. ^ De Rapper, Gilles. "Better than Muslims, not as good as Greeks", page 9: "By the beginning of the nineteenth century and later on, the British, French and [183] Austrian travellers who visited Lunxhëri, most of them arriving from Ioannina, described the Lunxhots as Albanian-speaking Orthodox Christians, and had the feeling that, starting north of Delvinaki, they were entering another country, although the political border did not exist at the time. Greek was not spoken as it was further south; there was a change in the way of life and manners of the peasants."
  17. ^ a b c d e King, Russell; Mai, Nicola; Schwandner-Sievers, Stephanie (February 1, 2005). The New Albanian Migration. Sussex Academic Press. p. 175; 180; 190. ISBN 978-1903900789. Today the population of Lunxhëri can be classified in three main groups:"While Lunxhëri practiced (as did many other regions) a high level of (territorial) endogamy, marriage alliances started to occur between Christians Lunxhots and members of the Greek minority of the districts of Gjirokastër (Dropull, Pogon) and Sarandë. Such alliances were both encouraged by the regime and used by people to facilitate internal mobility and obtain a better status and life-chances."; "In fact, the ‘exclusive Albanianness’ is still dominant as a discourse, emigration and the loosening of state control have brought radical changes in the sense of belonging. To claim a Greek origin or Greek familial connections is not a problem anymore as far as the state is concerned, and it is even considered a positive feature as far as emigration to Greece is concerned. Most of the Lunxhots in Greece present themselves as Northern Epirotes, and any evidence of Greek nationality, kombësi greke, is looked for as a positive feature in the context of migration." "the Lunxhots do not claim a Greek identity through an invented Vlach identity, but rather directly, through intermarriage with the Greek minority members in Dropull, Pogon and Sarandë."
  18. ^ p.10 On the other hand were those who insisted on the Greekness of the Lunxhots and were opposed to the development of an Albanian national identity among the Christians. We recall here the names of the famous Christodoulos (1820-1898) and Jorgos (1863-1920) Zografos – the latter having been the head of the Government of Autonomous Northern Epirus in Gjirokastër during the First World War – and of Vangelis Zappas (or Vangjel Zhapa, 1800-1865), all of them from Lunxhëri (Qestorat and Labovë e Zhapës). ...
  19. ^ De Rapper, Gilles. "Better than Muslims, not as good as Greeks", page 12: "not only are the Lunxhots ethnically and nationally Albanian, as opposed to the Greeks and Vlachs, they are even supposed to be the only true Albanians of the area, as opposed to the Muslims of Labëria who are seen as having abandoned their religion to become ‘Turks’ and, in so doing, have betrayed."
  20. ^ a b Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière (1967). Epirus: the Geography, the Ancient Remains, the History and Topography of Epirus and Adjacent Areas. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 9780198142539. In Lunxherië the villages are more compact but smaller, Shtegopul and Saraginishtë, for instance, having only fifty houses each; the people of Llunxherië are all Albanian Orthodox Christians, except those of Erind, who are partly Christian and partly Mohammedan, and the men, but not the women, know some Greek. They intermarry within their group, which consists of a dozen or so small villages."
  21. ^ De Rapper, Gilles. "Better than Muslims, not as good as Greeks", page 11: "He noted that then as now he was crossing a linguistic border from an area where Greek is spoken to one where it was merely understood. But he also said that there was little difference between the architecture of Labovë and of the villages he had previously visited, and that both in Labovë and farther north at Saraganishtë [sic for Saraqinishtë] there was a certain amount of pro-Greek feeling Winnifrith 2002. "
  22. ^ p.10 These fluid identities were to be crystallised at the time of the creation of the Albanian state (1913) and during the process of Albanisation that followed. Lunxhëri was actually included in the definition of Northern Epirus as a land of Hellenism that should have been given to the Greek state in 1913, and many families left the area, and Albania,during and after the First World War, to avoid becoming citizens of the new Albanian state. These people are called in Albanian propaganda filogrek and seem to have been powerful enough at some times to force pro-Albanian families to leave Lunxhëri...
  23. ^ De Rapper, 2008, p. 16: Greek soldiers and officers seem to have been welcome in the Lunxhots’ houses during the counter-offensive against the Italian invasion army in 1940-41, and people recall today how well the Greek officers were treated by the Greek-speaking and aristocratic Lunxhots who had lived in Istanbul or in the United States. A villager from Këllëz thus recalls how Iorgos (George) Papadopoulos (who was to lead the 1974 coup) stayed six months in his house from June to December 1940 (sic). ‘Italian soldiers did not know to fight. The Greeks were cleverer. Greeks were welcomed here, even though they pretended it was their own country’.
  24. ^ King, Mai, Schwandner-Sievers 2005, p.181-182
  25. ^ Emigrantët, riintegrim në vendlindje (Diaspora, re-integration in the homeland) (in Albanian),, 2012-03-27, retrieved 2013-11-09
  26. ^ Lunxheria e braktisur (Abandoned Lunxheri) (YouTube) (in Albanian). Top-Channel. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  27. ^ a b De Rapper, Gilles, "Better than Muslims, not as good as Greeks" page 9-10: "The Vlachs are often said by the Lunxhots to be of another fe, although they are both Orthodox Christians and go to the same churches. The feeling of otherness that characterises so strongly the relation between Vlachs and Lunxhots is thus expressed in term of religious communities; at the same time, the definition of Vlachs as another fe justifies the reluctance for intermarriage with them as well as a lack of trust and sympathy."
  28. ^ De Rapper, Gilles, "Better than Muslims, not as good as Greeks" page 2
  29. ^ De Rapper, page 5
  30. ^ Ethnic composition: 2011 census: "Delvine ..."Note: 1) The census was boycotted by significant number of Greeks."
  31. ^ "Thanas (Nase) Jani". Archived from the original on 2013-10-08. Retrieved 2013-09-14.
  32. ^ Thanas Nano (1979). Shtypi i lujtës nacional çlirimtare, 1941-1944 (National Liberation War Press, 1941-1944 (in Albanian). Shtëpia Botuese "8 Nëntori". OCLC 181774265.
  33. ^ Owen Pearson (Apr 3, 2007). Albania in the Twentieth Century, A History: Volume III: Albania as Dictatorship and Democracy, 1945-99. I. B. Tauris. p. 336. ISBN 978-1845111052.
  34. ^ Miltiadh Muci (August 2009), "Janko Poga, komandanti i artilerisë së Pashallëkut të Janinës (Janko Poga, Chief of Artillery of Pashalik of Yanina)", Gazeta Odria (in Albanian), "Odrie-Golik" Organization, 51
  35. ^ Kraja, Musa (2002). Bijë të Lunxhërisë për arsimin shqiptar : Pandeli dhe Koto Sotiri [Distinguished Lunxheri's sons for Albanian education] (in Albanian). Tirana. OCLC 163382713. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
  36. ^ a b Nga vizita e Kryeministrit Fatos Nano ne Qarkun e Gjirokastres (from the visit which Prime Minister of Albania, Fatos Nano, held in Gjirokastër region) (in Albanian), Albanian Council of Ministers, 2003-05-17, retrieved 2013-09-07[permanent dead link]
  37. ^ Promemoria për Enverin në '45: Dhunimi i pronës private, vetëvrasje [Memorandum to Enver in 1945, violation of private property, suicide] (in Albanian), Gazeta Panorama Online, June 5, 2012, archived from the original on March 25, 2013, retrieved 2013-09-14
  38. ^ Si u persekutua drejtori i parë i Bankës pas '45-s, miku i Ajnshtajnit [How the first Governor of Bank of Albania, Einstein's friend, got persecuted] (in Albanian), Gazeta Metropol, retrieved 2013-09-14
  39. ^ Enkelejda Riza - Albanian Telegraphic Agency (1999-01-23), Father Gjergj Suli - Martyr of Albanian Autochephalous Orthodox Church - portrait, HRI-NET, retrieved 2013-09-14
  40. ^ KUSH KA BËRË MË SHUMË TË MIRA SE VANGJEL E KOSTANDIN ZHAPA? [Who has done more philanthropy than Vangjel and Kostandin Zhapa?], vol. 58, Gazeta "Odria", archived from the original on 2013-12-28, Gjithashtu, Vangjel Zhapa financoi për përgatitjen e hierarkisë fetare, të klerikëve e priftërinjve që shërbenin në kisha e manastire, nga ku kanë përfituar familjet,Haxhiu, Toti, Papa Kosta, Papa Leonidha Duka si dhe At Gjergj Suli nga fshati Lekel etj. [Also, Vangeli Zhapa funded the preparation of the religious hierarchy, the clergy and priests who ministered in churches and monasteries, in benefit of families: Haxhiu, Toti, Papa Kosta, Papa Leonidha Duka, and Father George Suli from the village of Lekel etc..]
  41. ^ Julius Millingen (1831), "5", Memoirs of the Affairs of Greece, retrieved 2013-09-24

External linksEdit

Traditional costumesEdit

Traditional musicEdit

  • Pjergulla në lis të thatë
  • Lunxheri Plot Lezete

"Odria" newspaperEdit

Ethnocultural booksEdit