Wild nature, local traditions, history and the environment entwined — the famous mountain village of Samarina is one of Greece’s gems.
IT is located at an altitude of 1,600 meters (5,250 feet), on the slopes in of Mount Smolikas (2,637m), the highest peak of Greece’s Pindos range, in West Macedonia.
Samarina not only one of the highest villages in Greece but also in the Balkans. It has a summer population of about 5,000; during the rest of the year only a few hotels remain open due to the harsh weather conditions.
The area of Samarina is surrounded by pine forests and there’s plenty of natural water sources. The village is also known for its charming beauty and its healthy climate, which has earned it the name of “Good Samarina”.
Seen from a distance, the landscape is that of a postcard; a picturesque village at the foot of the second-highest mountain of Greece, under snow-capped cliffs which remain white until the end of May.
The buildings of the village are also well-known for their unique characteristics. One of them, the church of the Panagia, is the largest Basilica of Pindus; inside the sanctuary there’s a perennial pine tree that passes through the roof to reach the open air.
Samarina is the most famous of the Aromanian villages of the Pindus, where locals are proud of their heritage and continuously honor their traditions. On Aug. 15, Samarina celebrates the Dormition of the Virgin, an event that sees Samarinans from different parts of the world returning to the village in order to celebrate.
On that day, thousands of people gather on the main square of the Great Church for their “Great Dance” (Tranós Chorós in Greek, Corlu Mari in the local dialect). They hold their hands and, almost in a mystic atmosphere, people form concentric circles and walk slowly counterclockwise singing their traditional songs.