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Zoupaniotikos Ailias – Voio’s trademark


Zoupaniotikos AiliasVoio’s trademark 


The austere peak of mount Voio, which dominates the western part of the Region of Kozani, is Profitis Ilias, or Rosoutari. There are many who use the name Voio when referring to the mount Ilias. Locals also refer to it as Ailias Zoupaniotikos or Ailias tou Voiou. In the texts of French ambassador François Pouqueville it is mentioned as Rosoutari. It reaches 1,810 meters and, along with Paliokrimini creates another remarkable sight in Voio, that of the twin peaks, as it is lower than its “twin” by only two meters. From here on, the mountain grows wilder, great forests of beech and pine cover the steep slopes and enormous precipices create wonder and awe.


I went up Ailias,

And beheld Grammousta, 

Which the Turks have spoiled,

They took a thousand sheep from us, and two thousand goats 

(Vlachian song)

Right on the peak we find a snow-white chapel dedicated to saint Helias, which can be seen sparkling in the sun from afar. Every July 20th, inhabitants of Vythos and Pentalofos organize a group ascent, where they perform Mass and celebrate on the mountain. This route used to be carried out on horseback. The date of erection of the first temple, which was destroyed during World War II by an Italian bombshell, remains unknown. It was reconstructed in 1955 by two artisans from Pentalofos and funded by Kosmas Pantazis. Today, it is maintained by donations from citizens from the two villages and the personal efforts of the old local artisan Giannis Kassos. Right beneath it, on the foot of the mountain, the exquisite chapel of Taxiarches is still preserved in the location Fteri, where the village bearing the same name was raided by Turks and Albanians and the old inhabitants took refuge in Vythos. Today the area provides the nearby villages with high quality drinking water.

From the peak of the mountain, the unobstructed view to the steep slopes of Voio, the rest of Pindos, Olympus, the lake of Kastoria, the artificial lake of Vythos, the mountains of Western Macedonia and the enormous mountain chains of Albania is nothing short of spectacular.

Zoupaniotikos Ailias forms a steep mountain, dominating the scenery, as the rest of Voio’s peaks appear quite lower, while in reality they are not. It is one of the most characteristic peaks of Northern Pindos, due to its shape, which from the west resembles a perfectly equilateral pyramid. The lush vegetation does not cease until only a few meters from the chapel. Forests of beech on the northeast side interchange with pines on the southwest, in an area characterized as being of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where several streams spring from.

This area is not accessible by car, but there are paths that begin from Pentalofos or Vythos and cross the southeast side of the mountain. From Vythos and Avgerinos there is also the possibility to access the peak through a dense network of forest roads in just 40 minutes both from the south and from the north side, meeting the European path Ε6. The northwest side is steep and inaccessible. Just before the peak, the path crosses two iron staircases perched on a rock, placed there by the Commercial Club of Pentalofos to facilitate the ascent.

Ailias Zoupaniotikos, the master of old Anaselitsa. This mountain has always created feelings of awe in me. Even now, as I read or listen about remote and misty mountains, I bring the image of this mountain in my mind. The teacher would talk to us about Olympus and the Olympian gods and I would unwittingly cast my gaze on that mountain, in case I would see one of them descending from Anaselitsa.

Day and night, the gaze of farmers scans its peak to detect the daily meteorological messages. At dawn, it smiles as it coyly accepts the caresses of the sun’s rays and at dusk its breast swells with pride as it wears its golden-scarlet gown and bids the world goodnight.

This mountain has a lot to share from the old and new history of our land. The ancient Voiotoi used to live here originally. In the bleak years of Turkish occupation, beyond it stood the region of the Albanians. When, in later years, the fascist delusion of grandeur was attempting to breach the gates of our nation, this is where the enemy’s shells would reach and from where men and women would throw themselves into the fire of battle.

Lazaros Papaioannou 



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