Paramythia (Greek: Παραμυθιά; Aromanian: Pãrmãthia, Pãrmãthii) is a town and a former municipality in Thesprotia, Epirus, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Souli, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit.[2] The municipal unit has an area of 342.197 km2.[3] The town's population is 2,730 as of the 2011 census.


Central street of Paramythia
Central street of Paramythia
Paramythia is located in Greece
Location within the regional unit
DE Paramythias.svg
Coordinates: 39°28′N 20°30′E / 39.467°N 20.500°E / 39.467; 20.500Coordinates: 39°28′N 20°30′E / 39.467°N 20.500°E / 39.467; 20.500
Administrative regionEpirus
Regional unitThesprotia
 • Municipal unit342.2 km2 (132.1 sq mi)
 • Municipal unit
 • Municipal unit density22/km2 (56/sq mi)
 • Population2,730 (2011)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
462 00
Area code(s)26660
Vehicle registrationΗΝΑ - ΗΝΒ - ΙΕ

Paramythia acts as a regional hub for several small villages in the Valley of Paramythia and features shops, schools, a gym, a stadium and a medical center. Primary aspects of the economy are agriculture and trade. The town is built on the slopes of Mount Gorilla and overlooks the valley, below. The Castle of Paramythia was built on a hill in one of the highest points of the town during the Byzantine period and today is open to tourists.

The modern Egnatia Highway which links Igoumenitsa with Ioannina, goes through the valley, north of the town of Paramythia.


During the Byzantine and much of the Ottoman era the town was known in Greek as Agios Donatos (Greek: Άγιος Δονάτος),[4] after the town's patron saint Saint Donatus of Evorea.[5][6] This is the basis of the Albanian (Ajdonat or Ajdhonat) and the Turkish name (Aydonat).[7] The name "Paramythia" derives from one of the Virgin Mary's names in Greek ("Paramythia" in Greeks means comforter).[8] One of the neighbourhoods of the town was named after its church which was dedicated to Virgin Mary (Paramythia) and the toponym replaced the previous name most likely in the 18th century, as in the 17th century in Ottoman official documents, the town and the corresponding kaza (district) still appear as Aydonat.[9] In Aromanian, it is known as Pãrmãthia.


The Paramythia municipal unit consists of 23 communities. The total population of the municipal unit is 7,459 (2011). The town of Paramythia itself has a population of 2,730 and lies in an amphitheatre at an altitude of 750 m, at the foot of Mount Gorilla, between the Acheron and the Kalamas rivers. The Gorilla range (altitude 1,658 m) lies on the eastern side of the city and the Chionistra (1,644 m) to the Northeast. At the city limits is the Kokytos (Cocytus) River, one of the rivers of the underworld in Greek mythology. Paramythia's valley is one of the largest in Thesprotia and is one of the major agricultural areas in Epirus.



The earliest known inhabitants of the area were the Greek tribe of the Chaonians. Late bronze antiquities have been found in the "Tsardakia" area were a Mycenean settlement probably existed.[10][11]

Paramythia originated with the ancient Chaonian city of Photike (Ancient Greek: Φωτική), named after Photios, a leader of the Chaonians.[12] A famous hoard of bronzes dating from the mid 2nd Century AD, nineteen bronze sculptures were discovered during the 1790s, near the village of Paramythia. Soon after their discovery, the hoard was dispatched to St Petersburg, to become part of Catherine the Great's collection. After her death, the original hoard was dispersed to various European collections. Eventually, fourteen of the statuettes reached the British Museum.[13]

Medieval eraEdit

Paramythia seen from the upper street during the dusk
Paramythia as seen from the Byzantine castle

Photike, as with the rest of Epirus, became part of the Roman and subsequently Byzantine Empires. In the late Roman era it was the seat of a Bishopric and was renamed after Saint Donatus of Evorea.

Following the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Photike became part of the Despotate of Epirus. The Despotate remained independent for the next two centuries, maintaining the Greek Byzantine traditions. In 1359 the Greek notables of the region together with those of nearby Ioannina sent a delegation to the Serb ruler Symeon to support their independence against possible attacks by Albanian tribesmen. The town remained part of the Despotate of Epirus but during the reign of despot Thomas II Preljubović the Greek commanders of Photike/Agios Donatos refused to accept them as their ruler. The town fell to the Ottomans in 1449.[14] Paramythia was part of the Ottoman Sanjak of Ioannina.[15][16]


In 1572 Paramythia came under the short term control of a Greek rebellion. According to Venetian reports Greek revolutionary leader Petros Lantzas killed the Ottoman commander of Paramythia [17] Up to the late 16th century and early 17th century, most of the population of Paramythia was Christian. In the 1583 defter, many of the names of household heads are typical Christian Albanian names (Gjon, Lekë, Pal). Most inhabitants possibly spoke Albanian within their household, but there were also Greek-speakers and bilingualism between Albanian and Greek was likely in the area.[18] In the Ottoman period, much of the economic and political life of Paramythia was controlled by the feudal landholding families which emerged in the region. One of the most significant of these in Paramythia was the Albanian Proniari family which had firmly established itself by the late 18th century.[19] Cham Albanian landlords of Paramythia and Margariti were in conflict with Ali Pasha of Yannina during much of the Pashalik of Yanina era.[20] These families by the end of the Ottoman era would hold almost 90% of the arable land of the plain of Paramythia. This economic division between mostly Muslim landlords and Christian peasants contributed strongly to a political shift of a part of the population towards the Kingdom of Greece since the late 19th century.[21]

A Greek language school, had been attested since 1682. It declined and closed in the mid-18th century,[22] however, another Greek school was continuously operating from the late 17th century and at 1842 was expanded with additional classes.[23] In 1854 a major revolt took place in Epirus and the town came briefly under the control of guerilla Souliote forces that demanded the union of Epirus with Greece.[24]


During the early 20th century, although the majority of local Muslims were Albanian-speaking, there were considerable communities Greek-speaking and Romani Muslim communities, which had emigrated to the area from southern Greece after 1821. The Christian Orthodox community was mainly Albanian-speaking.[25] After the end of the Balkan Wars (1912–1913) the town became part of the Greek state, as with the rest of Epirus region. In the interwar period, Paramythia was a centre of the Albanian speaking area of Chameria and mainly an Albanian speaking market town that after 1939 increasingly became Greek-speaking.[26] During the Greek-Italian War the town was burned by Cham Albanian bands (October 28-November 14, 1940) and Greek notables were killed.[27] In the following Axis occupation of Greece (1941-1944) the town had a population of 6,000 inhabitants; 3,000 Greeks and 3,000 Cham Albanians.[28]

Paramythia first fell under Italian control and then under German rule after Italy's capitulation (September 1943). As Italy entered its phase of capitulation throughout 1943, EDES tried to approach the Cham community unsuccessfully on May 1943, but they reached a brief ceasefire on July 1943 in the area of Paramythia.[29] Italian collapse in the region was followed by the entry of the German army. In Paramythia, as the Italian units were disbanding, the Cham militia clashed with left wing ELAS which tried to disarm them. ELAS controlled part of the town briefly, but was quickly routed by the German advance. Members of the Geheime Feldpolizei were also sent to Paramythia to organize and use the Cham groups.[30] In an operation which followed by the 1st Mountain Division with the assistance of the Cham militia during the week of September 20–29 up to 200 Greeks in and around Paramythia were killed and 19 municipalities were destroyed.[31] In one invicent, on the night of 27 September 1943, Cham militias arrested 53 Greek civilians in Paramythia and executed 49 of them two days later. This action was orchestrated by the brothers Nuri and Mazar Dino (an officer of the Cham militia) in order to get rid of the town's Greek representatives and intellectuals. According to German reports, Cham militias were also part of the firing squad.[32] On September 30, the Swiss representative of the International Red Cross, Hans-Jakob Bickel, visited the area and confirmed the attacks committed by the Cham militia in collaboration with the Axis forces.[33]

On June 26–27, 1944, under orders from the Allied headquarters the town was taken by the National Republican Greek League (EDES).[34] There are competing timelines about the events of the surrender of the town. Some sources mention that EDES possibly negotiated their entry in Paramythia with the German army which was about to retreat together with the Cham units.[35] The Cham militia then tried unsuccessfully to capture the town. Others mention that EDES took the town after defeating the Nazi German-Cham defence. The Germans retreated without significant losses, while the remaining armed Albanian units were disarmed.[34] Cham militia and German Wehrmacht then tried unsuccessfully to recapture the town.[36] EDES issued a proclamation which guaranteed the safety of the Cham community and their property, but soon after it established itself in the town the expulsion of Cham Albanians began.[35] According to an estimate, 600 Albanians were killed in Paramythia,[37] while other accounts limit this number to 300.[38] Almost all buildings inhabited by Muslim Albanians in the town were destroyed during World War II warfare.[39]

Notable inhabitantsEdit

  • Sotirios Voulgaris, the notable Greek [40] who founded the jewelry and luxury goods company Bulgari. His jewelry store in Paramythia survives. Following his wish, his sons funded the building of the elementary school of the town.
  • Dionysius the Philosopher (1560–1611), Greek monk and revolutionary.
  • Alexios Pallis (1803–1885), Greek writer.


The municipal unit Paramythia is subdivided into the following communities (constituent villages in brackets):

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b "Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών 2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός" (in Greek). Hellenic Statistical Authority.
  2. ^ Kallikratis law Archived 2018-06-12 at the Wayback Machine Greece Ministry of Interior (in Greek)
  3. ^ "Population & housing census 2001 (incl. area and average elevation)" (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece.
  4. ^ Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization M. V. Sakellariou. Ekdotike Athenon, 1997. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2, p. 183 "modern Paramythia bore the Saint's name for many centuries..." (c. from 7th to 15th centuries)
  5. ^ Duka, Ferit; Society and Economy in Ottoman Çameria: Kazas of Ajdonat and Mazrak (Second Half of the 16th Century) p.3, periodic Historical Studies (Studime historike) issue: 34 / 2004
  6. ^ Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, Hazırlayanlar: Seyit Ali Kahraman, Yücel Dağlı, YKY Yayınları, Istanbul 2002, pp. 107. (in Turkish)
  7. ^ Elsie, Robert (2000). "The Christian Saints of Albania". Balkanistica. American Association for South Slavic Studies. 13: 36.
  8. ^ Archived 2002-06-09 at
  9. ^ Balta, Oğuz & Yaşar 2011, p. 353:The neighbourhood of Paramythia owed its name to the church of the Panagia of Paramythia (known as the Paregoretria, or Comforter).30 From the name of this ‘great church’ the kaza’s capital later took its name, most likely in the eighteenth century, because throughout the seventeenth century the city continued to be known as Aydonat, as is shown in the head tax registers (Fig. 2).3
  10. ^ Papadopoulos Thanasis J. The Late Bronze Age Daggers of the Aegean I: The Greek Mainland, Franz Steiner Verlag, 1998, pp. 22, 23
  11. ^ L'habitat égéen préhistorique: actes de la Table Ronde internationale organisé par le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, 1987, p. 361
  12. ^ An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis: An Investigation Conducted by The Copenhagen Polis Centre for the Danish National Research Foundation by Mogens Herman Hansen, 2005, page 340.
  13. ^ British Museum Collection
  14. ^ Epirus, as an Independent State: The Despotate of Epirus (in "4000 years of Greek history and civilization" Nicol D. Ekdotike Athenon, 1997. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2, pp. 214, 219.
  15. ^ H. Karpat, Kemal (1985). Ottoman population, 1830-1914: demographic and social characteristics. p. 146. ISBN 9780299091606. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  16. ^ Motika, Raoul (1995). Türkische Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte (1071-1920). p. 297. ISBN 9783447036832. Retrieved 22 September 2011. Sancaks Yanya (Kazas: Yanya, Aydonat (Paramythia), Filat (Philiates), Meçova (Metsovo), Leskovik (war kurzzeitig Sancak) und Koniçe (Konitsa)
  17. ^ Χασιωτης, Ιωαννης Κ (1970). Οι Ελληνες στις παραμονες της ναυμαχιας της Ναυπακτου: ηκκλησεις, επαναστατικες κινησεις και εξεγερσεις στην Ελληνικη χερσονησο απο τις παραμονες ως το τελος του Κυπριακου πολεμου (1568-1571) (in Greek). Hetaireia Makedonikōn Spoudōn. pp. 152, 215. Το 1572 ο Πέτρος Λάντζας, που είχε παίξει πρωτεύοντα ρόλο στην κατάλυση της τουρκικής εξουσιάς στα μέρη αυτά, ζήτησε από τη βενετική κυβέρνηση να του αναθύση τη διοίκηση όλης της περιοχής που είχε επαναστατήσει, δηλαδή από τη Σαγιάδα ως τα σύνορα της Πρέβεζας και σε βάθος που έφτανε στην Παραμυθιά... ...Alvive Zorzi αναφέρει ότι ο Λάντζας είχε επιτύχει σε μιαν από τις παράτολμες επιχειρήσεις του στην Ήπειρο να σκοτώση τον Τούρκο διοικητή της Παραμηθιάς
  18. ^ Malcolm 2020, p. 94.
  19. ^ Balta, Oğuz & Yaşar 2011, p. 361:The Venetian archive contains an interesting account of the conversion of a man who was in all likelihood a Christian sipahi by the name of Ahmet Proniari of Agia, who organized in June 1558 incursions against Parga undertaken with the help of other men from the same village.77 It is worth noting that Proniaris was the name of a large family of Albanian notables and agas with a strong presence in Paramythia at the end of the eighteenth century.
  20. ^ Malcolm 2020, p. 163.
  21. ^ Tsoutsoumpis 2015, p. 122:The majority of the arable land in the region was owned by a handful of absentee Muslim landlords who owned approximately 90% of the arable land in the areas of Fanari and Paramithia, and more than 60% in Filiates. (..) Land disputes created fertile ground for irredentist propaganda and the sympathies of the area’s population had been shifting towards the newly-created Greek Kingdom since the late 19th century
  22. ^ "Σχολή Παραμυθίας. [School of Paramythia]". Κάτοπρον Ελληνικής Επιστήμης και Φιλοσοφίας (University of Athens) (in Greek). Retrieved 2010-10-30.
  23. ^ Sakellariou, M. V. (1997). Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization. Ekdotike Athenon. p. 306. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2.
  24. ^ M. V. Sakellariou. Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization. Ekdotike Athenon, 1997. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2, p. 288
  25. ^ Tsoutsoumpis 2015, p. 121:quote=While the majority of local Muslims were Albanian-speakers, there was a significant presence of Roma and Greek-speaking Muslims in the towns of Parga and Paramithia, many of whom had emigrated from southern Greece after the 1821 revolution. The «Greek» community was also highly fragmented. The majority of Christians in the highlands of Mourgana and Souli were Greek speakers, while in the lowland areas of Margariti, Igoumenitsa and Paramithia, Albanian speakers comprised the majority
  26. ^ Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière (1967). Epirus: the Geography, the Ancient Remains, the History and Topography of Epirus and Adjacent Areas. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 27. ISBN 9780198142539. "The market towns of Filiates and Paramythia were mainly Albanian in speech before 1939, but Greek speech was beginning to flow back to them."; p. 50. "and it is the most southerly of the villages of Tsamouria, the Albanian speaking area of which Margariti and Paramythia are centres."
  27. ^ Georgia Kretsi. Verfolgung und Gedächtnis in Albanien: eine Analyse postsozialistischer Erinnerungsstrategien. Harrassowitz, 2007. ISBN 978-3-447-05544-4, p. 283.
  28. ^ Meyer 2008: 464
  29. ^ Tsoutsoumpis 2015, p. 133:Furthermore, EDES approached the Cham community in May 1943. This tactic failed, but talks were rekindled during July 1943 and resulted in a brief ceasefire between EDES and the Chams in the area of Paramithia.
  30. ^ Muñoz, Antonio (2018). The German Secret Field Police in Greece, 1941-1944. McFarland. pp. 79=80. ISBN 978-1476667843.
  31. ^ Meyer 2008: 476
  32. ^ Meyer 2008: 469-471
  33. ^ Meyer 2008: 498
  34. ^ a b Manta, Eleftheria (2009). "The Cams of Albania and the Greek State (1923 - 1945)". Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. 4 (9): 9. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  35. ^ a b Kretsi, Georgia (2002). "The 'Secret' Past of the Greek-Albanian Borderlands, Cham Muslim Albanians: Perspectives on a Conflict over Historical Accountability and Current Rights". Ethnologia Balkanica. 6: 182. On the night of June 26/27, 1944, the EDES 10th division advanced towards the city of Paramithia. By some accounts they even negotiated with the German forces whose retreat was imminent. (..) The EDES issued a proclamation alleging that all Muslims would be free and that their properties would be secure. After Paramithia was captured, however, the signal for the ultimate expulsion of the Muslims was given.
  36. ^ Kallivretakis, Leonidas (1995). "Η ελληνική κοινότητα της Αλβανίας υπό το πρίσμα της ιστορικής γεωγραφίας και δημογραφίας [The Greek Community of Albania in terms of historical geography and demography." In Nikolakopoulos, Ilias, Kouloubis Theodoros A. & Thanos M. Veremis (eds). Ο Ελληνισμός της Αλβανίας [The Greeks of Albania]. University of Athens. p. 39: "Επανειλημμένες απόπειρες των γερμανικών και τσάμικων τμημάτων να ανακαταλάβουν την Παραμυθιά τους επόμενους μήνες απέτυχαν."
  37. ^ Petrov, Bisser (2009). "National Republican Greek League EDES". Études balkaniques. Academy of Sciences of Bulgaria. 45 (3–4): 30. On June 27, 1944, EDES units overran the town of Paramythia and killed about 600 Albanians. On the next day, another EDES battalion reached Parga and killed another 52.
  38. ^ Kretsi, Georgia (2007). Verfolgung und Gedächtnis in Albanien: eine Analyse postsozialistischer Erinnerungsstrategien (in German). Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 284. ISBN 978-3-447-05544-4. in die griechische Stadt Paramithia ein... Allein hier verloren um die 300 Camen ihr Leben.
  39. ^ Kiel, Machiel (1990). Ottoman architecture in Albania, 1385-1912. Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture. p. 3. ISBN 978-92-9063-330-3. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  40. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-08-15. Retrieved 2009-06-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


External linksEdit